Over in China, BMW have revealed a new version of their 3 Series four-door executive saloon. The big difference here is that it lacks a combustion engine and instead uses batteries and an electric motor.
The Munich-based automaker has done similar EVs previously where an existing vehicle platform is repurposed into a zero emissions version of itself with the most obvious examples being the i4 (based on the G26 4 Series Gran Coupe) and the iX3 (based on the G01 X3).
In keeping with somewhat convoluted naming scheme, they’ve called it the i3 to denote it as an electric 3 Series. The problem is that there already was an i3 that BMW produced as a standalone model - alongside the i8 hybrid sports car - back in 2013. They’re still being produced today and is only scheduled to be put to rest in July 2022.
Of course, that original i3 has nothing to do with this G30-based saloon, which is apparently only to be sold to the Chinese market given the appetite for EVs there. That could soon change, though.
The iX3 In Sedan Form
Interestingly, this i3 eDrive35L is more closely related to the long wheelbase version of the current 3 Series in terms of dimensions. The extra space in between the axles would make to store floor-mounted batteries, of which it has 70.3 kilowatt-hours worth of.
Its single electric motor drives the rear axle and produces 285hp and 400Nm, giving it identical outputs to the iX3 and deliver a 0-100km/h sprint of 6.2 seconds. On a full charge, BMW claims this all-electric 3er will do 526km before going kaput, calculated/estimated based on China’s own light vehicle test cycle.
Previews G20 3 Series Facelift
Speaking of which, replenishing the i3 eDrive 35L’s power reserves (10% to 80%) can be done as rapidly as 35 minutes if plugged into a DC charger that meets its 95kW maximum charging rate. There’s also the option to accommodate a slower but more commonplace 11kW AC charger, though no firm figures on charge time are disclosed on that.
Due to be fully launched in China some time May 2022, the i3 eDrive 35L will be built in Shenyang by BMW Brilliance, a joint venture between BMW and Chinese automaker Brilliance Auto.
In terms of styling, this electric 3 Series actually previews the model’s upcoming facelift - called Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) in BMW lingo - that features some subtle visual alterations such as a revised bumper design and headlight clusterm and the same goes for the rear end.
Inside, the dashboard has been reworked to feature an ultrawide integrated digital gauge cluster and infotainment screen in the same vein as Mercedes-Benz's older MBUX implementation. It seems that BMW are turning their back on the traditional instrument binnacle.