When BMW first debuted the i3 a few years back, it was revolutionary. It was the first car ever to offer an EV powertrain and carbon fiber construction for under $50,000. Its range was competitive, its performance was surprising and its handling was impressively BMW-like. But nothing was more revolutionary than the way it looked. It was like Doc Brown came back from the future with something new and shiny. Since then, though the charm surrounding the BMW i3 has waned. It’s not the revolutionary car it once was and has been desperately in need of a facelift. Well not that facelift is here.
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This BMW i3 LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) treatment is a facelift in the purest sense. To be honest, there isn’t much different about the post-LCI i3 aside from its exterior looks. Thankfully, the facelift has given the i3’s looks a handsome update.
It’s at the front where the updates are most noticeable. New as-standard full LED headlights start it all off, making it look more high-tech. LED lighting just gives the face a sleeker, more modern look. Then you notice how much wider the new i3 looks. Thanks to flare out fenders, the new BMW i3 looks wider and more dynamic than before. It’s not drastic but it’s effective. BMW also updated the foglights, which always looked like an after thought on the first-gen car. What were just two circles slapped on the front bumper, the new foglights are now horizontal and look more in keeping with the rest of the design.
A new front bumper is featured, with a piece of trim that starts out atop the new foglights and makes its way down, wrapping around them, and around the bottom of the bumper. It’s a much more cohesive looking bumper and trim package that makes the i3 seem more premium and grown-up. Now it looks like a luxurious futuristic car, rather than a playful childish one. Gone are the pre-LCI i3’s cartoonish looks, with a more mature mug taking their place.
Out back, a new, more rounded rear bumper makes the rear end match the front. So it’s more cohesive still and looks less dumpy than the original. Though, the back is the most unchanged part of the exterior. There is a new silver horizontal bar that spans the entire rear end. But aside from that, it’s pretty boring back there. You can see the rear fender flares, though. They look quite good and actually give it a sportier stance.
Down the side of the new i3, BMW has put some product in its hair. A silver trim piece runs the length of the roof and comes down atop the D-pillar, making it look as if it’s hair is slicked back. It looks good, though, a breaks up the looks a bit. Aside from that, though, the side isn’t changed much. Though, there are some new color options, such as Melbourne Red Metallic and Imperial Blue Metallic.
Now, from the outside, the newly facelifted BMW i3 looks better than before. It looks more premium and more mature. Having said that, it’s a bit lackluster in terms of an upgrade. Maybe my expectations were too high but I was hoping for something a bit more exciting. However, if you think the outside is lacking in new visual drama, the inside will disappoint.
Inside the cabin of the i3, not much is changed at all. There are a couple of new interior color options. Giga Brown Natural Leather & Carum Spice Grey Wool Cloth are your two color choice with the new Giga World line and there is a new wood trim option.
The big news on the inside, though, is the switch to BMW’s latest iDrive. It’s odd that it took so long, as the BMW i3 is supposed to be a techno-powerhouse. The pre-LCI i3 had to make do with the brand’s older system and it felt outdated. Now, it gets the new tile-based iDrive system. Considering that this is the best infotainment system on the market, we’re happy about that. We’re also happy that its tech finally lives up to its looks. Especially when it comes with Driving Assistance Package offers Active Driving Assistant and Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go while Advanced Real-Time Traffic Information and ConnectedDrive Services and Apple CarPlay.
Underneath the skin, not much has changed. The facelifted BMW i3 is still powered by a 94 Ah battery, which powers an electric motor that makes 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. That can scoot the i3 from 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, just like the pre-facelifted car. It has a pure electric range of about 100 miles, give or take a few depending on weather and driving conditions. With the optional gasoline range extender, that range increased to around 180 miles, which could be quite helpful for the right customers.
What’s interesting is that BMW is now offering a new way to charge the i3. Replacing the old OUC (Occasional Use Charger) is BMW’s new TurboCord. The new TurboCord is essentially a more usable version of the OUC. It’s still used the same way but can now charge the i3 via either 120V or 240V. The previous OUC was only capable of 120V but now users can charge at 240V anywhere possible.
Despite being a bit behind on the times now, the BMW i3 is still a great car. It’s punchy, fun looking, fun to drive and completely electric. Now, though, BMW has made it ever better, with better looks some more features and a better way to charge. You may have been hoping for something more exciting but this is a good refresh of a great car.