First off, the 33.2 kWh battery that became available in 2017 makes the i3 a real 100-mile EV. While that may not exactly be considered anything special for 2018, when there are cars like the Bolt and Model 3 with 200 – 300 miles of electric range, coming from my 2014 i3 REx, the extra 40 miles of range really makes a difference.
So much so that I opted for a BEV this time around. In my opinion, BMW should have figured out a way to stuff 33 kWh into the original i3, even if it meant slightly lower efficiency numbers. But they didn’t, and the 81-mile EPA range wasn’t enough for most people, which is why about 75% of i3 owners in the U.S., like me, had the range extender option.
So far, I’ve been averaging over 90 miles per charge, and it’s the dead of winter here in NJ. Therefore, I fully expect to average 120 – 130 miles of range once the weather warms up. My 2014 i3 REx would average about 60 miles of electric range in January temperatures and about 80 miles per charge in warmer temperatures. That all adds up to roughly a 40% range improvement over the 2014 i3 REx that I owned for over three years.
I knew all about the increased range of the larger battery as it had been available and well-documented since BMW upgraded to the Samsung 94Ah cells in August of 2016. What was unknown to me was how much “sport” would BMW put into the new i3 Sport. I leased mine without having the opportunity to test drive one, so I was going on reports from my BMW contacts that had promised me I wouldn’t be disappointed.
The i3 Sport has 14 more horsepower (184 hp vs. 170 hp), and 15 more lb-ft of torque (199 lb-ft vs. 184 lb-ft) than all other i3 models (REx or BEV). That in itself isn’t a huge power increase, and it’s not really felt too much at the low end. The 0-60 times are only 0.4 seconds faster than the base i3 (6.8 sec vs. 7.2 sec), according to BMW. However, the i3 Sport’s increase in power becomes obvious once the car is going faster than 40 mph. At highway speeds, it really feels like a totally different car. The base i3’s power flattens out at about 60 mph, while the i3 Sport still pulls strong up to around 90 mph.