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BMW has made the facelifted version of its i3 locally available. The i3 has reigned as the top-selling premium electric car in its class since 2014, not just in Europe but worldwide too. The company’s upgrades aims to solidify its place at the top and includes restyling of the front and rear aprons. which places particular emphasis on the car’s width and sporty dynamism. A chrome-design trim strip running across the full width of the rear and the positioning of the model and eDrive badges on the outer edges of the boot lid also serve to reinforce this impression.

The new BMW i3 comes equipped with all-LED headlights as standard, which employ LED bulb units for dipped beam and high beam as well as the daytime running lights. The new turn signal indicators also feature LED technology and are integrated into the front apron in the form of horizontal strips. This means that LEDs are now used for all lighting functions at the front of the vehicle too, as was already the case with the glass-covered rear light assemblies.

The driving experience in the BMW i models has played no small part in the growing appeal and popularity of electric mobility and consequently, the synchronous electric motor powering the new BMW i3 generates a maximum output of 125 kW and peak torque of 250 Nm, with the latter being available instantly from a standstill, as is usual with electric motors.

This means that stepping on the accelerator pedal immediately unleashes a thrilling burst of speed. The motor smoothly delivers the kind of performance that drivers expect from a BMW via a single-speed automatic transmission, with continuous power delivery that builds up the car’s tempo in a characteristically dynamic fashion. 0-100 km/h is achieved by the new BMW i3 in 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is limited to 150 km/h.

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Located low in the vehicle floor, the lithium-ion high-voltage battery provides a range of up to 200 kilometres in everyday use according to BMW. The combined electric power consumption of the new BMW i3 on the NEDC cycle varies between 13.6 and 13.1 kWh for every 100 kilometres.

The agile handling characteristics of the BMW i3 are improved still further by the optimised Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. This comprehensively revised, faster responding traction control system guarantees confident handling under all driving conditions. The BMW i3 now features a globally unique form of wheel speed limiting that ensures increased directional stability, both under dynamic acceleration and on the overrun with strong regenerative braking. Traction during pull-away on snow and wet roads has also been noticeably improved. DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) mode now boosts agility at higher speeds and during sporty cornering, even allowing mild and safely controllable drifts when grip levels are reduced.

A 28 kW two-cylinder range extender petrol engine is available as an option. The engine drives a generator that produces power as required while driving to maintain a constant level of charge in the high-voltage battery. This extends the car’s overall range in everyday use by 150 kilometres, increasing it from around 180 kilometres to a maximum of 330 kilometres.

Parking Assistant and Traffic Jam Assistant take over control of steering

The driver assistance systems available for the new BMW i3 ease the driver’s workload and provide support in various traffic situations, as well as helping with longitudinal and lateral vehicle control. The optional Parking Assistance package includes Park Distance Control, a reversing camera and the Parking Assistant. Once a suitable parking space parallel to the road has been selected, the Parking Assistant takes control of acceleration, braking, gear selection and steering.

Driving Assistant Plus, also available as an option, incorporates Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, Speed Limit Info, Proactive Driving Assistant, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, and the Traffic Jam assistant, which not only maintains a safe distance to the car in front in stop-start traffic at up to 60 km/h, but also keeps the car in lane. The system takes its cues from lane markings, the width of the road and vehicles travelling ahead.

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Updated iDrive system and ConnectedDrive with navigation

The new BMW i3 comes with an updated version of the iDrive operating system, which provides an intuitive interface for controlling numerous vehicle, infotainment, communications and navigation functions. In vehicles equipped with the Navigation system Professional, the Control Display has a diagonal of 10.25 inches and an increased resolution of 1,440 × 540 pixels. The main menu is also presented in the form of horizontally arranged tiles with a live mode. The voice recognition system has also been further optimised. With the aid of Natural Language Understanding, spoken instructions can now be executed more quickly and precisely, e.g. when searching for music and phone numbers or dictating emails and SMS messages. New to the options list is Apple CarPlay preparation. This allows additional smartphone apps to be integrated seamlessly with the vehicle’s operating system.

The further expanded BMW i ConnectedDrive offering – unmatched by any rival – ensures intelligent connectivity through services specially tailored to electric mobility. The digital On-Street Parking Information search service, now available for the first time in the BMW i3, can also be used alongside the Real Time Traffic Information system if the Navigation system Professional is specified. Public charging stations and information about their availability can also be displayed on the navigation system’s map. When route guidance is activated, data about the route is also used to calculate the range shown in the instrument cluster as accurately as possible. The range map provides a visual representation of the current operating radius. It is also possible to display the different ranges achievable in each of the Driving Experience Control modes. BMW i-specific navigation features also include intermodal route guidance. This helps users to quickly and efficiently reach their destination by factoring in local public transport timetables and connections. Regular, automatic updates of the navigation data are now also provided “over the air” in the BMW i3, using a mobile network connection.

A package of new services were introduced in July 2017 under the BMW Connected+ banner which enable a highly personalised and more straightforward display of information inside the car. All of the digital services related to BMW Connected and BMW Connected+ will be available in the BMW i3. These span intelligent route planning, including stop-offs at charging stations or petrol stations (Send my Routes to Car), sharing of the car’s current location via SMS and live link (Share Live Trip Status), personalised display of relevant in-car information (BMW Onboard), seamless transfer of route instructions to the customer’s smartphone or smartwatch once the car is parked (Navigate Door-to-Door) and direct syncing of contacts and addresses to the navigation system (My Destinations).

Pricing for the facelifted i3 range kicks off at R637 300 for the pure electric version (i3 94Ah) and R717 100 for the range-extender model (i3 94 Ah REX). In other motoring related news, VW recently launched the new Polo GTI in South Africa.