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2018 BMW i3S: Real World Review

You might not have noticed, but the BMW i3 EV received a minor facelift for the 2018 model year. Along with slightly revising the look, BMW added the sporty i3S model to the lineup. A few of the upgrades in the 2018 BMW i3S include a performance increase in the electric motor to 184 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. Other upgrades include anti-roll bars, a sport suspension and a sporty appearance package that includes wider 20-inch wheels. An optional upgrade in the i3S is a 2-cylinder range-extender engine, which our testers drove, that boosts the car’s total range from 87 miles up to 180 miles.

Behind The Wheel

So does the i3S live up to its sporty moniker? Is this the electric car you should buy? The reception was a little mixed with our staffers. We asked each of Autotrader’s staff to give their comments, here’s what they had to say. Data editor, Tommy, just didn’t like how the car drove, especially for a BMW. He thought it was a very rough ride courtesy of the sport suspension, which he found to be uncomfortable. Tommy said it was an especially bad ride over rough or uneven pavement.

Automotive Editor, Dwight, was a little more satisfied with how the car drove and found it to be a fun ride in sport mode. However, he also noted that the car felt a little top-heavy and unstable at highway speeds. Dwight also praised the interior and the technology in the car, especially the wireless Apple CarPlay.

Regenerative Braking

Ben, was impressed with the car’s regenerative braking, especially compared to the Nissan Leaf, as an EV in a segment that’s still quite new. When you let off the accelerator in an EV, it uses regenerative braking to capture some kinetic energy and give the car’s battery a little bit of a charge while you slow down. Ben was very impressed with the predictability of the regenerative braking in the i3S.


Autotrader’s Executive Editor, Brian Moody said “It’s expensive and doesn’t have the performance I would expect from a BMW. That being said, the interior is one of the most attractive of any car no matter how it’s powered. If style is important to you, you will probably like the i3S.”

As for the styling, everyone else was pretty split. The BMW i3 has a love-it-or-hate-it look, and you probably already have an opinion about how the car looks. The interior, on the other hand, was almost universally praised as being futuristic with high-quality materials and impressive technology.


Another thing everyone agreed on was the pricing. With our tester ringing in at over $50,000, it’s a price that’s tough to justify for this little BMW hatchback. Yes, it’s still futuristic even 4 years after its introduction, but with more affordable EVs with longer range and a lower price hitting the market since then, there are fewer reasons to buy an i3 than there used to be.

The 2018 BMW i3S makes this EV a little more fun and a little more stylish, but it’s just not quite enough to justify its lofty price tag.

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