Updated BMW i3 Spotted Out Testing In First Spyshots

9 months ago by Jeff Perez 31

Slightly refreshed/updated BMW i3 out testing under some camo!

BMW’s electric subcompact is getting a makeover.

With more than 100,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids sold since the i sub-brand was introduced in 2013, BMW plans to continue its electric onslaught into 2017 and beyond. In doing so, the company will introduce a new i8 Spyder – which was recently spotted testing  – and a refreshed i3.

BMW i3 out testing new larger battery pack?

Spy photographers caught the new i3 – covered up, of course – out and about on public roads in Germany. Unfortunately, the photos don’t show much. A heavy dose of camouflage and a familiar shape leaves us mostly in the dark as to the look of the new i3.

What we do know is that it will be more powerful. Earlier reports suggest that it could significantly improve on its 168 horsepower (125 kilowatts) and 184 pound-feet (249 Newton-meters) of torque in the top-trim ‘S’ moniker (up to ~200hp), improving the current 7.3-second 0 to 62 mile per hour (100 kilometer per hour) time and 93 mph (150 kmh) top speed. Range is also expected to get an upgrade of nearly 50 percent, which would bring it close to 200 miles (321 kilometers).

Along with a sporty ‘S’ designation, the i3 will get improvements throughout the range, including a more ergonomic cabin, a range of new color options (similar to the i8), and a number of styling tweaks both inside and out. BMW hopes that EVs will make up 15 to 25 percent of the firm’s volume by 2025. Already the company has delivered around 60,000 i3s and 10,000 i8s since the two cars were introduced in 2013.

The updated i3 is expected to make its debut later in the year and go on sale sometime near the beginning of 2018. No word on pricing just yet, but expect it to stay under the $45,000 mark.

Refreshed BMW i3 in camo

Current BMW i3 for comparison – looking similar

BMW i3 in camo

BMW i3 in camo

Source: Automedia

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31 responses to "Updated BMW i3 Spotted Out Testing In First Spyshots"

  1. David Murray says:

    We own an i3.. I look at it every day. And to the best I can tell, it looks exactly the same… what have they changed?

    1. Brian says:

      They added camo 😉

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Not a lot visually, maybe a little front bumper (although that is debatable), extra front quarter panel width.

        The development is in the testing of the new battery/powertrain on the roads in Germany. Not 100% sure why they had to wrap it like that for such a subtle change.

        1. albertito says:

          I think is very obvious why.Because if they wrap the car , the media thirsty for clicks will put them on the focus again.Cheap advertising.

          1. unlucky says:

            Agreed. They wrapped it because if they didn’t no one would notice it.

    2. alohart says:

      We, too, and this “refreshed” version looks identical, even down to the base wheels. Not sure why BMW bothered with the camouflage because no one would know that this isn’t the current model. Might these photos be from 2013?

      The current electric motor has 125kW of power, so the article is either incorrect or the ‘S’ version has the same motor as all i3’s.

      The i3 pictured appears to be a U.S. model because European models do not have the orange front and red rear side reflectors.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Photos are definitely brand new, perhaps BMW just figured they would do a wrap for the light body changes while out testing the new power-train? Maybe it was easier than re-painted to match? Who knows what they are thinking…or maybe they did just want attention, lol.

      2. Alexander H. says:

        The article may have been updated, or my reading of it is different: I read that BMW is going to improve upon the current 125kW motor in a new “S” trim.

        I agree on the looks: I can’t see any difference whatsoever.

    3. greenspark says:

      The front and rear fenders are different. Zoom into the full size images to see the difference. The most noticeable change is the fog lights. Look at the shape underneath the fake fog lights on the camo car and you can see an elongated and slit shape. The camo car also has a new line going from just under the license plate to above the fog lights. The camo car also has a new structure to the sides of the air intake.

      The changes to the back bumper are more subtle. On the camo car there is no longer a single horizontal line below the license plate. Instead it looks like there is a bump under the license plate and two mildly concave sections to the left and right of the bump.

      I don’t see any difference on the sides.

  2. Spoonman. says:

    Are they gonna add a fifth seat?

  3. speculawyer says:

    Looks exactly the same to me.

    I hope they have some non weirdmobiles in the pipeline.

  4. Franz Tozt says:

    125 kW/168 HP? It’s already got that. That’s the spec fort both 60 Ah and 94 Ah. They should put in two of the existing motors, for a total of 250 kW.

  5. Jay Castro says:

    Ugliest car ever. BMW is making a horrendous job at this. Why in hell do I have to have an ugly car if I want an electric BMW?

    1. instant tq says:

      it’s damn marketing, they don’t want to cannibalize own sales with better looking design. or keep demand under control. those who want bmw EV, will buy i3 despite of how it looks

  6. Rick Danger says:

    Lord knows, it needs an update – the more I look at this car, the uglier it gets, and it was ugly to start with.

  7. Tom Moloughney says:

    I suspect this is the new i3S pictured. It looks like it has fender flares to accommodate wider tires (which aren’t on this test car).

    There are probably mild changes to the nose and rear, too. It looks to me like the area around the license plate may be a little modified also.

    1. an_outsider says:

      I guess you nailed it: to accommodate larger (standard) tires.

    2. unlucky says:

      Fenders don’t look flared to me. It just looks like this one has the narrower tire choice, making the fender overhand a bit larger. Put the upgraded wheels on as the car in the promo picture has and it would be the same overhang.

      I don’t think the license plate area has changed. And I think the foglights are the same, just masked to a different shape with tape.

      I would love to see the black area around the foglights go away. That would require disconnecting that section of the fascia from the chin spoiler. I can’t see if that has been done here or not.

      And another note while I’m posting, I expect if the battery really does grow 50% in capacity then that would counter any motor power increase and keep the 0-60 about the same as before. It would increase the potential top speed though, but that’s likely governed on the i3 already.

      1. mx says:

        Disappointed. That tire width is off putting.

  8. Koenigsegg says:

    Only thing that’s different is the LED DRL. Don’t know why that one is so wimpy and small. They better not have made the lights smaller rofl.

    I just dont get it. Why can’t anyone besides Tesla make a desirable EV.

    BMW out of all people with their nice sedans, can’t just build nice EV sedan.. Boggles my f**king mind

    1. David Murray says:

      Well, I guess that depends on what you mean by desirable and what you mean by EV. There are several PHEVs out there, including from BMW that look very nice, or in many cases just like their gasoline counterparts. Myself, I love my 2nd Gen Volt and would not trade it for a Tesla. As for EVs.. I think Hyundai’s Ioniq will be very nice for the low-end of the EV market. The Bolt EV is also a very nice offering that looks pretty much like a normal crossover. Nothing “weird” about it.

      Also… don’t forget. People used to (and still do) say the Prius is weird looking. And yet, which hybrid out there sells the largest numbers?

    2. Warren says:

      Actually, if the i3 was just as quick as a Tesla. I would prefer it. Not everyone wants a larger sedan vs a small hatchback configuration. I can’t wait till I can order a i3 S model. Wish they would have it by June when it is time to turn in my Focus EV. If this car truly improves on its acceleration times (I bet it will). It will again be at the top of its class in performance for all the EV offerings out there aside from the Teslas.

      I wonder if the I-drive interface will be modernized like the newer 2017 updated displays on other BMW models. As it is, the BMW I-drive interface is regarded as top in the industry. Perhaps there will be even more driver aids on top of the active cruise, pedestrian detection, auto parallel parking, front collision avoidance features, etc.

      Just trying to figure out if I want to go with a different color than the fluid black of my 2017 i3 I got a couple months ago, which I really like.

      1. DL says:

        Hear, hear. I’m totally with you on this. 99% of the time it’s just me in the car, so the smaller the better (and the faster the better too). I’d still be RIDING a BMW if there weren’t so many idiots on the road now. I can’t wait for autonomous vehicles to take over so maybe I can ride again with risking my life every mile.

  9. Kdawg says:

    “Range is also expected to get an upgrade of nearly 50 percent, which would bring it close to 200 miles”

    Close = 171 miles

    1. vin says:

      And in reality, close = 151 actual miles

      1. Samwise says:

        Which for 90% of the universe is plenty!

        1. R.S says:

          I think the Zorgs on Gliese 667Cc would disagree. They usually have commuting distances of 200 miles or more. Or all the good folks at Kepler-62f, which work at one of the many the banking districts on Kepler-62e.

      2. John says:

        Too low, no go! Bolt can do 280 miles now

  10. Joe says:

    The current price of the i3 is a little bit to justify with such a small battery.
    Otherwise, this is an excellent car.

    1. John says:

      No way, used one cost twice as much as competitionswith similar range. This BMW will not attract hot girls either, so what’s the point?