The i3 has been available for us since 2013. It started off being the first electric vehicle by a renowned luxury car brand and quickly became a modern classic in the automotive world. BMW designed the i3 with their other luxury EV, the i8 in mind, but it’s hardly recognizable as such. The i3 gained popularity at the release because of the luxury BMW styling and the extensive tech features. Other brands then started developing and releasing EVs that rapidly outshone the 2017 BMW i3 94AH. That’s why BMW now returned with a new i3 for 2017, with a better battery and a higher electric range. However, the new battery is not the only upgrade the i3 got. That’s why the i3 will be discussed as a whole and the new 2017 specs get special attention.
The i3’s exterior hasn’t changed much from the outgoing model’s. The notable short, stumped hood and small waist are still present. It’s hard to see how the i3 was inspired by BMW’s i8, since the proportions are all mixed up. The front fascia maybe looks most like the i8, but then again, every BMW fascia looks like that.
The side of the 2017 BMW i3 94AH is most striking due to the large wheels and funny-shaped rear window. Most EVs sport really small wheels that are at risk of looking out of proportion. The Toyota Prius is a good example of this, the large rear makes the car especially disproportionate to look at. The i3 is of course much smaller, so the relatively large wheels work really well. We’re glad BMW adopted the standard 19 inch wheels again for the 2017 model year. New for this year are optional 20 inch wheels.
The rear of the i3 is just as remarkable as the front and sides, especially with a contrasting exterior colour. The body metal then is in the chosen colour, but the sideskirts, hood, roof and rear are black. Especially on the rear these contrasts are visible. The futuristic-looking taillights, which are sunk into the body metal, really complete the i3’s styling.
This year there is one all-black and five two-tone colours available for the exterior. All but one exterior colour come with an “iBlue” highlighting line on the sideskirts. The new 2017 colour is the Protonic Blue metallic paint with Frozen Grey highlight for the US. Europe gets a bright Solar Orange hue.
The interior of the 2017 BMW i3 94AH had some nice updates as well. For starters, there are four different colour combinations to choose from, named Atelier, Lodge, Loft and Suite. Suite is new for 2017 and combines dark cloth from recycled materials. The two highest trims now offer Dark Oak Wood or Light Eucalyptus Wood dashboard inserts.
Standard sound system in the i3 offers four speakers. Optional is an upgrade to a Harman Kardon HiFi system with twelve speakers and an amplifier. Also standard is automatic air conditioning and a universal garage door opener.
Optional is a 6.5 or 10.2 inch infotainment screen and a 20GB hard drive for music. Also optional are heated and ventilated seats, rain and light sensors and a multi-functional steering wheel.
The electric motor comes combined with a 94AH (Ampere hours) battery for 2017. In Europe, the 2016 i3 will still be sold in dealerships too, with a 60AH battery. The new 94AH is a lithium-ion battery and much more efficient than the 60AH. The electric motor is a three phase AC synchronous electric motor, good for 170 HP. The car has an all-electric range of 114 miles (183 km).
A level 2 charger can charge the 2017 BMW i3 94AH battery in 4,5 hours, which is one hour longer than the i3 60AH’s battery. The car comes standard with DC Fast-charging availability. It takes a fast-charger 40 minutes to recharge a drained i3 94AH battery up to 80% again.
What makes the 2017 i3 really special is the optional Range Extender that can be opted. This is a 650 cc two cylinder gasoline engine that can deliver a maximum output of 38 horsepower. The gas engine does not directly power the car’s engine, but powers a generator to charge the electric battery. When the Range Extender is present, it automatically switches on when the battery percentage drops under a specified number. It then creates enough energy to keep the percentage on that level.
The tech area is one that BMW can be proud of. An amazing range of the most diverse tech features, standard or optional. The infotainment system comes including real-time traffic info, adaptive cruise control, navigation and BMW Assist (roadside assistance). Also standard are HD Radio, parking assist and keyless entry.
An optional feature is the Professional Navigation System, especially adapted for EVs. It includes ConnectedDrive, which can calculate the distance to your destination and advises the perfect driving mode. If possible, it recalculates to a more efficient route and highlights charging stations along the way. This navigation system is so intelligent that it can accurately calculate the distance-to-drained. It uses statistics like driving style, activated electric features, traffic, outside temperature and of course charge status.
BMW’s Home Charger Connect comes standard including WiFi and features remotely accessible charging services.
Other options are a rear view camera, Traffic Jam Assistant and Approach Control Warning with Pedestrian Detection and Autonomous Braking. Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Speed Limit info are also available for option.
Price and sale date
In Europe the 2017 BMW i3 94AH is already on sale. Prices start at €34.950 before options and packages. In the United States the i3 will go on sale this fall, probably in October. Prices will be made known closer to the sale date, but we expect a starting price of $35,000.