Facelifted i3 spotted... in hot i3S guise?

BMW’s facelifted i3 has been spotted masking its subtle cosmetic revisions underneath a thin strip of camouflage. The lettering on the front doors and trunk lid may say “Hybrid Test Vehicle,” but in reality this was the full electric variant judging by the absence of a fuel cap on the right front wing. The range-extender version called “i3 REx” has a second cap to fill up the small nine-litre gasoline tank necessary to feed the 647-cc two-cylinder combustion engine.

The disguise can’t hide the fact the prototype was riding substantially lower than a regular i3 EV, though. This leads us to believe it was actually the rumoured i3S featuring a stiffer suspension setup. Expected to debut alongside the facelift for the regular i3, the sporty version will allegedly use an upgraded electric motor: the current version delivers 168 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

2018 BMW i3 facelift spy photo
2018 BMW i3 facelift spy photo

As a result of the extra electric punch, the BMW i3S will shave off a few tenths of a second from the 0-62 mph sprint time, which in the case of the regular model takes 7.3 seconds. A minor bump in terms of top speed over the i3’s current electronically capped 93 mph is also expected.

We should point out the i3 was updated last year, when it made the switch from a 22- to a 33-kWh battery, boosting range of the pure electric version to an NEDC-rated 186 miles. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume the Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) will come along with a prolonged range as a result of getting a beefier battery pack.

Expect the facelifted BMW i3 to be introduced in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where it will presumably share the spotlight with the i3S – which is set to become the most expensive version in the line-up.

Photos: CarPix