First U.S. 2018 BMW i3s Delivered: InsideEVs Exclusive First Look

2018 BMW i3s


BMW i3s

The first 2018 BMW i3s delivered in the U.S. seen here at its first trip to a DC Fast charge station

The first 2018 BMW i3s was delivered in the U.S. on Saturday, December 30th, 2017.

I was the happy recipient of a Fluid Black i3s BEV, the new Sport version of BMW’s electric hatchback.  The delivery took place at BMW of Bloomfield, in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

The BMW i3s is the only version of the i3 that has a Sport mode.

My car actually arrived in Port Newark about three weeks ago but was held there until the recent i3 stop sale was rescinded. The recall and stop sale affected all BMW i3 vehicles sold in the US since its 2014 launch, and lasted for about three and a half weeks. The issue was resolved by a reprogramming of the driver’s airbag.

This is actually my second i3. The first was a 2014 i3 with the range extender option. I had a little over 72,000 miles on it when it was unfortunately totalled in an accident this past June. I had been contemplating whether or not to upgrade to a new i3s at the time, so the accident made the decision an easy one for me. I decided to go with a BEV this time because of the additional range that the 33 kWh battery offers, as compared to the i3’s original 22 kWh battery.

I’ve only had a day to drive it so far, but I wanted to get out some of my first impressions.

The first thing I noticed is the new Sport driving mode. Previous versions of the i3 have three driving modes: Comfort (default mode) Eco Pro, and Eco Pro Plus. The i3s has all of those, but it adds a new Sport mode. The owners manual states that the Sport mode offers a “more direct accelerator response and tighter steering characteristics” and I definitely found that to be true. In addition to the Sport mode, The i3s has a new sport suspension which features specially developed springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars.

BMW i3s

The i3s has a 44 mm wider track and wider tires than all other versions of the i3.

The new Sport suspension unique to the i3s is 10 mm lower and 44 mm wider, and there’s also more rubber on the ground. The i3s has new 20″ wheels, which are .5″ wider than the previous 20″ optional sport wheels available on the i3 (that I had on my 2014). This allows the rear tires to upgrade to 195/50 R20 and the front tires to use 175/55/R20. These new wheels are available in the standard polished silver, and also in Jet Black, as a no-cost option. We had some snow yesterday so I couldn’t push the car in the turns too much, but I can already tell that it handles much better than my 2014 Rex did.

The i3s has 14 more horsepower (184 hp vs. 170 hp), and 15 more lb-ft of torque (199 lb-ft vs. 184 lb-ft) than the non-sport i3 models. The increase in power isn’t felt too much at the low end though. Claimed zero to sixty times are only .4 seconds faster (6.8 sec vs. 7.2 sec) as offered by BMW. The i3s’ increase in power is really felt once the car is going faster than 40 mph. At highway speeds, it really feels like a different car.

The power increase combined with the new sport suspension, wider stance, and better tires makes a huge improvement, especially at higher speeds. The i3s also has a slightly higher top speed than other i3 models. It tops out at 100 mph, which is 6 miles per hour faster than the non-Sport i3.

BMW i3s

i3 owner David Bricknell make this Power Curve graph comparing the standard BMW i3 and the new BMW i3s

Other notable differences is all 2018 i3 models get an LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) refresh. They have newly designed front and rear ends and gone are the round halogen high beams that were positioned under the headlights on the bumper. The i3’s high beams are now included in the headlights and are LED. They are a great improvement over the halogen high beams of past i3s.

I actually upgraded my halogen high beam bulbs for LEDs because I wasn’t happy with the performance of the halogens. These new LED high beams provide excellent coverage and brightness, and are at least as good as the upgraded LED bulbs that I installed on my 2014 i3. I live in a rural area and good high beams are essential if you don’t want to assist the local deer that are trying to commit suicide.

On the inside, there aren’t too many changes, the biggest being BMW’s new version of iDrive. It’s got a completely new look, and now displays three different menu tiles at a time. After using the previous-generation iDrive for four years, I’ll need some time to get used to this new one and learn how to quickly access the information I want. At first blush I like what I’ve seen though.  The 2018 i3’s display is not a touchscreen, so all input will be done via the large controller button on the center console, just like the previous version.

BMW i3s

All 2018 i3 cars have a new front end with horizontal blinker lights in the bumper where the round high beams used to be. The BMW i3s has the added trim (seen here in blue) on the bottom of the front grill, and it sticks out well beyond the rest of the bumper.

BMW i3s

The Deka interior is gray and black cloth with blue trim.

BMW i3s

Highway driving is really where the BMW i3s shows its improvements the most.

My car’s pretty much fully loaded, except this time I opted for the standard Deka interior. I had the top-of-the-line Tera interior on my 2014 i3 and wanted to change it up this time. The Deka interior wasn’t available in the US (it had been standard in Europe since 2014 and called “Atelier”) until 2017. I also got the newly-available Blue seat belt option ($300). The back-up camera on my previous i3 was very good, but this one seems to be even better. It’s much clearer with less fish-eye effect than the Tesla Model 3’s back up camera for sure.

BMW i3s

The backup camera is exceptionally clear.

The i3s is a little less efficient than a standard i3. The official EPA rating has it with a 107-mile range, down seven miles from the standard BEV i3’s 114-mile range. It’s MPGe rated at 126 city, 99 highway with a combined rating of 112 MPGe. The standard i3 BEV with the same 33 kWh battery has a combined MPGe rating of 118 MPGe. I suppose this is a product of the wider tires and the increased power. I managed to get between 90 and 100 miles per charge so far, but it’s under 20 degrees here in New Jersey and the roads aren’t all completely free of ice and snow. I don’t think it will be difficult to get 120 – 125 miles per charge once it warms up here in a few months.

BMW i3s

The 2018 BMW i3s window sticker efficiency and range ratings

I’ll be doing a more comprehensive report soon after I get a couple thousand miles on the odometer first, so I’ll have had enough time to really get to know the latest electric hot-hatch from Munich.

I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to the entire InsideEVs community. May 2018 be an electric year for you all.

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71 Comments on "First U.S. 2018 BMW i3s Delivered: InsideEVs Exclusive First Look"

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Congratulations! It looks sharp! 🙂

Happy New 2018!

I second vdiv’s motion.
Interesting read Tom M. Nice new look also.
So you are going to own an i3 AND a Model 3??
Way to go Tom M!!!

the restaurant business must be good:)

You paid $300 for blue seat belts? Please tell me there is more to it than that.

Great first impressions, Tom! My ’14 REx is still going strong at 57k miles but I really long for the extra range of the new version (preferably i3s).

Tom, Congratulations, thanks for the quick report and a happy, safe and electric 2018!

Tom, sorry to hear about your original i3. The new one looks even sharper tho and you don’t even have to wrap it to attain this good look. ?
I’m curious if you tried to talk yourself into a Bolt instead? I know You took that long road test in one and like it, but I’m guessing it just isn’t a BMW so that sealed its fate. But I imagine that extra range and power cost were tempting?? Curious to see how else these two compare in YOUR mind.
The Chevy is rather plain, compared. But it’s a solid car.
Happy cruising.

I assume the fisheye effect in the Model 3’s backup camera is only temporary, as the software is way behind where it should be.

Fisheye gives a wider field of view and removes stretching at the edges you get with rectilinear view, making distances easier to judge.

Six Electrics, I assume you are paid handsomely for your non sequitur Tesla bashing posts, but the quality of your efforts are way behind where they should be.

Ha ha ha, well played! Yeah, that one really came out of left field! Maybe SE forgot what thread this is?

Awesome car. I will be replacing my 2017 Fluid Black fully loaded Terra BEV i3 at the end of this year for the “s” . I think without the Rex,this should definitely feel quicker than your previous i3. Let us know how the throttle response differs in the sport mode. If the next battery upgrade becomes heavier with no more HP, yours might be the sportiest one of all. When it drys out, give us more feedback on handling improvements. And please line up next to a Bolt for a 0-60+ comparo. Would especially love to see the i3 rocket away from a standstill compared to the traction starved FWD Bolt on damp roads. Like I said, of all the approx 30kWh EV hatchbacks out there, only the i3 breaks into the 6 second 0-60mph range.

From Autocar’s review:

“But I can say that, in ‘S’ form, the i3 is now more enjoyable than any other EV bar an i8, a Tesla Model S with ‘ludicrous’ mode engaged or a Nissan Leaf on plastic rear tyres. For that reason alone, it has become our favourite version of one of our favourite EVs.”

You think The Bolt is slower to 0-60, well at least damp roads? Both have good traction control, but the Bolt has nearly 100hp more and more weight on the tires, so I doubt The i3s is gonna run away at a stop light compared to the Bolt. FYI: the Bolt has a 1/2 second faster 0-60 time on dry roads, and traction is only an issue for both cars at take off.
Per Motor Trend: “It’ll do 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, and the Chevy will motor through the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds at 93.1 mph. Those are serious “hot hatch” numbers, on par with the VW GTI or Ford Focus ST.”
Bottom line, would be quite close.

You are saying the Bolt has almost 100 more HP? LOL. And based on the fact that every BOLT I drove loses it’s composure on high throttle starts, with torque steer and squealing tires, your average driver will have problems against an i3 in a 0-60 run with less than ideal traction. Car and driver tested the i3 at 6.5 seconds. As I said, all the 30kWh hatch backs are even close in acceleration. The BOLT need I remind you has about double the battery capacity for the motor to draw upon.

I leased a new Bolt EV last month and I want to know what everyone is talking about with the torque steer and squealing tires. I put mine in sport mode and it doesn’t really feel that fast at all. My RAV4 EV felt WAY faster jumping off the line. I’m not sure my Bolt is somehow being software limited, but when I floor it from a dead stop, the tires don’t squeal, it doesn’t push me back in my seat, and the torque steer stays to a minimum. I’ve been leasing an anemic E-Golf for the last two years and it really doesn’t feel much slower than this new Bolt. Any suggestions?

I really like the look of your car, the early i3 cars had those crazy interior colors, and they really cleaned up the look of the car. Black is one of the nicer colors. Love the blue seatbelts.

Toy car got an puny electric range boost? Too late too inadequate. I am tired of BMW playing this game now.

Oh man. I hate it when a car company builds a car that fails to appeal to every single car buying individual.

BMW knows very well thank you hose who buy this “car” are nothing else but fools.

45K for 120 miles? And n superchargers?
No auto pilot?

I wonder how much it will be for 310 miles!

Thanks for calling me a fool.. since I own one of the toys. Or more specifically my wife owns it. And guess what. She loves it and will not trade it for anything else. As hard as it may be for you to believe, some people actually do care about other things besides just range. And since we have the Rex model range has never been an issue for us. In fact, we’ve only used the Rex maybe 6 times in an entire year.

Sorry David,I just have a problem with the price.
I did test the I3 to 2013,I found it very fun and responsive.

Alltesla likes to wait hours in supercharger lines 🙁 Thinks waiting means there is something desirable and hard to get.

When you need it in a long trip, it’s there. After 3 hrs of driving, by the time you take a bathroom break and a coffee or burger, you and your car are ready to. No waiting for charging. Mic drop.

Hi Alltesla, Ru from Utopialand?

You’ve always been a weird troll.

Wow, you must be one of those guys that goes 100 miles/day, 36000 miles+/year? For my 12000 mi/yr lease, I am limited to a 33mi/day average, so the range is fine for me. I have to constantly try to keep my mileage down to the 24,000 miles/yr between the two of my 2017 i3 BMWs. Got the irex for the first time a couple months ago. Pretty much never use the gas. But for the family car that the GF drives, it was just extra assurance for her. For my personal car, I stick with the BEV i3, and the range is more than adequate for me. I have stretched it to 148 miles on one 97% charge averaging almost 50mph. And if I need to quick charge, I know I can pick up 25 miles in 10 minutes of DCQC.
Again, I am worried about driving too many miles a year, not the range limitation of my car.

I have to find the dyno graph I saw of the BMW i3s vs i3. Above 50mph the i3s made significantly higher HP, and had a higher redline. At 80mph, I believe it was making close to 30HP more!

Sorry,but I think most of us here don’t care about your Fugly, overpriced sub 100 miles i3.

User name “alltesla”. Got it. Another Tesla zealot.

So much for advancing EVs as a category.

Did you know that BMW sold over 100k electeified vehicles in 2017?

I don’t call anytime with 20 or 30 ev miles electric.
Second, all cars are electrified!
There are no cars out there that don’t have electricity running in them.

Range on PHEVs could always improve.
I think new battery technology will take care of that.

On the other hand, it is an important category.
I have colleagues driving PHEVs, and we talk cars during lunch.
Several of them only use the engine 1-2 times a week, at most.

They drive to work in a pre heated, fully charged car, get to work, and during work they charge the car, and can drive home again in a pre heated car.

There is a reason BMW and others had to design special tank caps on the cars – to preserve the gasoline from going bad, since it’s so seldom they fill up the tank.

They are at least happy with their cars. At the same time, a few of them are right on the edge of when the engine kicks in. Just 15-20% extra range would be good. Double the range would of course be better.

Maybe very high gas prices result in extra high use of the charging feature. For several of them, It’s kind of a competition to use as little gas as possible as well.

My PHEV goes 3 months without ever starting the gas engine. I have 82,000 EV miles and 98,000 total miles. While more range would be nice I do just fine with my 38 miles range.

Thus the genius of the Volt is Honda Clarity PHEV.

No charge available at work? No problem. 53 or 47 miles EV with 42-45 MPG afterward on a gas tank that is completely practical unlike the i3’s tiny tank which requires a hack in . America that voids your factory warranty.

I consider those high-cost “premium brand” PHEVs with minute EV range and high MSRP + luxury-brand mainteance costs a bit of a joke, and an insult to the car consumer. Most struggle to get 26 MPG after their EV range is up.The cars were born from the need to go all-electric in European countries with zero emission zones, and to collect any emissions credits they can.

Sure, any EV range is better than zero EV range, but hopefully buyers of those types of 17-25 mile PHEVs (Even Toyota Prime) will only whet their appetite for more EV range – and go out and buy/lease their next car accordingly.

*Correction: “Volt or Honda Clarity PHEV”.

If an EV doesn’t have 200 useful miles, it does not need to go exist as far as I am concerned!
Just go back to the drawing board until you have a useful product.

Wrong wrong wrong, wrong! Just like with ANYTHING, each product has its own market niche and intended function.
We need more choices in EV’s, and that means different sizes of bodies, batteries and different form factors. Tesla is not the best, it’s just the best in its segment.
The i3 is a great car and perfect for a fun commute. The bulky Tesla MX? Absolutely no fun to drive in comparison.
How bout the Smart ED? Only 60 miles of range, but would perfectly suit more than 50% of Americans commuting needs.

What exactly are you TRYING to say??

He could be saying two things.

-Bigger batteries mean more range.
-Bigger batteries mean more power.

Both blanket statements, but both basically true and especially so when going from 33KWh, to 60KWh. As much as the new i3 falls short of the Bolt’s “usable” ~200 mile range, it also falls short on the KW (or Horsepower) that is possible from larger, versus smaller batteries.

All GM can do is detune the goodness, that sits underneath the Bolt. I’d strongly advice leasing, as word is BMW “gets it” and is considering 43KWh in the not distant future. Not that 43 won’t still lag what we see near 2020.

Sounds like Tom’s previous EV had over 72,000 “useful miles” and would have had a lot more had it not been destroyed by a careless driver.

They all have their use. I drive a company car (i3), and have been for a while now. It covers my daily trip to kindergarten, to go to work, to drive kids to sport activities, buy groceries and what not. Since we have many kids, we have a lot of short trip driving. Range is no problem what so ever – there are chargers everywhere, but I charge at home and at work. That does the job. My mail problem with EVs are the limmited options to choose from. I can not buy an EV that will fit all the kids and my wife. With an ICE engine I can at least by 10 different models that fit my needs. I see there might be an option in a few years, but they come with inner city range.. , which equals useless range (for me). The first versions will come with vans only.. I’m just waiting for a proper battery size AND the “high tech” job of mounting some extra seats in it . and call it a passenger van or a minibus. Obviously they need years and years to do this simple thing. The closest option I have now… Read more »

. . the company in Poland I was thinking of was Polster ( .

A very naive opinion. Do you drive 200 miles a day? Most people drive under 30 miles a day. So a 30 mile PHEV can offset all their gas use for normal driving and a range extending engine lets them take a 2000 mile trip without ever having to stop and charge.

It sounds like you don’t own a plug in.

I don’t need a car that just cover the amount of miles a drive a day.Do you know if any ice car makers that makes a car with a small gas tank and small range because people don’t drive any more than 30 miles or 60 km?.no the give you as much as they can.
Thanks need the same when it comes to EV.

Qoute: You save $3750 in fuel costs over 5 years……. just imagine how much we save in Europe at $7.70 a gallon.

My Dad pays about $0.30/kWh(all in) in Germany and it is not different in Belgium. A lot of people in Europe only have 1 car per family. Cars are in general at least 1 size smaller in Europe than the US. Try and drive at 80-100mi/hr with the current EVs, some won’t even get there. The range just gets killed at these speeds. This makes the case for an electric car much harder.
I doubt, that I would drive fully electric in Europe, I’d rather go for a PHEV with at least 30mi electric range. Public transport in Europe is a hoot.
BTW: I drive electric since 2013 with a 2012 MiEV @ 78,000mi and a 2017 Bolt @ 2,500mi since 11/24/2017.

“i3s was delivered” should be “i3s were delivered”

Oh, maybe that’s not plural. Heh.

We are now at the point where 200 mile EVs that are styled to look like a regular car and not like the ugly styled i3 and the first generation Leaf, will become available. Additionally, the 200 mile EV will give you the flexibility to enjoy driving against instead of having to worry about your remaining range.

Don’t buy a short range EV…wait and force the makers to supply a car drivers want, i.e., a nicely styled car, like a BMW series 3 ora Tesla model 3, all electric car without Range Anxiety.

“2013Volt January 1, 2018 at 4:13 pm My PHEV goes 3 months without ever starting the gas engine. I have 82,000 EV miles and 98,000 total miles. While more range would be nice I do just fine with my 38 miles range.” For all the complainers about range, look what some of us are saying, like the owner of the 2013 Volt above. He did 82,000 EV miles out of almost 100,000 miles. The point is, imagine if he had an i3 with almost 3 times the range, and DCQC capability. What you have to understand is that the 100 mile range is fine for 98% of most peoples needs. And on a long trip like from the LA to the Bay area over Xmas vacation, we did 850 miles in the Acadia, averaging 80-90MPH for long stretches. Left at 7:30pm from Los Angeles and arrived in the Bay area around 1:30 am. Even with a Bolt, it would have been a PIA. Especially traveling at 80mph, and trying to find an open charger during holidays. Not to mention the 2 hrs it would take to fully charge a Bolt on a DCQC. So the point is, the 100 mile… Read more »

Okay Tom,
I knew the BMW press release showed a bigger difference in engine output. Here is the graph from the BMW press release. So the difference is pretty remarkable from 6000 rpm on (approx. 50mph).

Engine Speed: i3 i3s Difference:
6000 RPM 118kW 133kW +15kW
8000 RPM 105kW 132kW +27kW
10000RPM 93kW 127kW +34kW
11000RPM 87kW 123kW +36kW

And a kW is more than 1HP, so this even more significant than you would think.

Compared to GM, BMW has always been underrating their engines and performance specs.

Just look at this inside EVs dyno test of an early i3.

Thanks Tom for another good i3 article. The i3 has been evolving well, and it seems to continue to be a good Lease value. Some dealers have great incentives on their weekly/monthly advertised lease specials, bringing the i3 into the affordable price segment for many.

Tom – any initial thoughts on ride quality vs. your 2014/rex…and maybe Bolt and Model 3 you drove recently? (and looking forward to your next review after a few thousand miles)!

And you said its better driving on the highway now, does that include coping with wind gusts? As the previous i3 was quite twitchy and exhausting driving on 495 because of it.

As I drive into the city, Philadelphia, often.
I will not be picking up the i3s, I need a good ride over those bumps.

But, If I were driving suburb and highway the i3s would be my next pick.

But, I wish BMW would add that additional rubber to the standard i3 too.

Thanks for the quick review!

Glad you like your new I3 Tom.

BMW I was quite surprised has made over 100,000 plug in vehicles – supposedly a record outside of Chinese manufacturers.