The New BMW i3s Is A Sporty Hatch In Name Only

Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

BMW tried to spice up its electric i3 city car with a new sport model, but it’s not quite the EV hot hatch that’s going to convince us to give up anything.

Advertisement

In Carfection’s latest video, Henry Catchpole got the new i3s out of the city to see if it could hold its own as a sporty hot hatch. It couldn’t quite make it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. Here’s the video:

BMW widened the track, tuned the suspension, propped it up on some big 20-inch wheels, boosted power to 180 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque, shaved off 0.4 seconds over the normal i3 to hit 60 MPH in 6.9 seconds, and painted this one red.

Advertisement

This is Catchpole’s first i3 drive, and the impression is not that of a hot hatch. While it grips the road well and could probably keep pace with the smaller hot hatchbacks, it’s just not as engaging as it should be.

Instead, he says, it’s “nippy,” and points out the interesting distinction of electric cars, which is that often their biggest thrill is an initial one. The best part of driving an electric car is the surge of power and speed when you first get going. That’s great for city driving. The thrill of a hot hatch is more about finding the power and stretching the car through its gears on a more secluded stretch of road, which the i3s is simply incapable of.

As Catchpole points out in his conclusions of the i3s, it makes for a great second car. It’s fun in the city, has a unique aesthetic and vibe, but it doesn’t quite compare to the other hatchbacks out there, including the 1 Series from within the same stable. At least not yet.

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I counted quite a few contradictions in that video. He calls it slow and fast, tall and low, and keeps going back and forth with the fact he cant decide what he likes or hates about it. I wish he put more effort into explaining one detail at a time instead of jumping all over the place sounding like he doesn’t know anything.

I’ve had an i3 BEv for a year now and autocrossed it with all 3 traction modes, (1 that most do not know exist)

Ask me anything about what its really like to drive/own one.