The new i3 gets a modest makeover. Its A-pillar and roofline now receive a glossy black finish that matches other accents on the car. The redesigned front and rear bumpers give the i3 a wider look. The front bumper has a matte-black U-shaped accent surrounding the horizontal LED turn indicators. LED low and high beams and daytime running lights now come standard. The rear of the car gets a horizontal chrome strip across the tailgate, and the badges are pushed out toward the edges, emphasizing the sense of width. The i3 also gets two new colors for the 2018 model year: Melbourne Red metallic and Imperial Blue metallic.
The interior remains mostly unchanged, still making use of sustainable materials and providing a sense of openness. The Giga World trim level now offers Giga Brown leather (tanned using olive leaf extract) and Carum Spice Grey wool cloth seat surfaces. The new i3 also includes the latest version of the BMW iDrive interface. The 10-inch touchscreen is of higher resolution, and the voice recognition uses cloud-based speech processing.
New for 2018, BMW is offering a sportier version of the i3 called the i3s. It is more powerful than the standard i3 (which leaves output unchanged at 170 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque), at 184 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. Its track is wider by 1.57 inches, with a 0.4-inch lower ride height, providing a more aggressive stance. The i3s's sport suspension includes unique springs, dampers, and anti-roll bars. The sporty model gets 20-inch light-alloy wheels that are a half-inch wider than the standard i3's shoes. The i3s has a number of exterior design accents to set it apart, as well as blue seat belts inside the car.
The Sport driving mode offered in the i3s tightens the steering and sharpens acceleration, providing a 0-60 mile-per-hour time of 6.8 seconds, an improvement of 0.4 seconds compared to the standard i3. The i3s also has a higher top speed of 100 miles per hour, compared to the standard model's 93-mph limit. While the i3s isn't doing anything majorly transformative in terms of performance, it's nice that BMW is acknowledging there's more fun to be had while still being conscientious about consumption.
The new i3 and i3s will make their public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and BMW will announce pricing at prior to when the updated i3 goes on sale.