2022 BMW i3 sedan leaked in China

Leaked images show an all-electric version of the BMW 3 Series, called the i3, that's expected to be a China-only model.

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It’s a BMW i3, but not as we know it.

Images of the 2022 BMW i3 sedan have been leaked on the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) website ahead of its reveal.

This i3 sedan is an all-electric version of the facelifted BMW 3 Series, similar to the 4 Series Gran Coupe-based i4, that’s nothing like the quirky i3 electric hatchback that was first revealed as a concept in 2011.

There’s a single i3 variant, the eDrive35L, as indicated by the badge on the rear of the vehicle.

The ‘L’ in the nameplate indicates the i3 sedan will be based on the Chinese-market long-wheelbase version of the 3 Series.

Seeing this is the case, it’s unclear if the i3 sedan will be a Chinese-market only model as the long-wheelbase 3 Series isn’t available anywhere else.

The i3 sedan measures in at 4872mm long, 1846mm wide and 1481mm with a 2966mm wheelbase.

Compared to the Australian-spec 3 Series, the i3 sedan has a 115mm longer wheelbase.

Its powertrain will produce 250kW of power from an undisclosed number of electric motors which will be powered by a lithium-ion battery of unknown size. There aren’t any torque, range or economy figures listed.

The electric powertrain used in the entry-level i4 eDrive40 produces the same amount of power from its single electric motor.

It makes 430Nm of torque and has a WLTP-certified range of 590km thanks to its 84kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

At the front it’s obvious this model is an all-electric version of the 3 Series because the kidney grille is blanked-out, like on the i4, with a piano black finish and light blue surrounds.

This blanked-out grille is considerably smaller than the i4’s grille, though.

The i3 is also evidently based on the facelifted 3 Series model, as previously spied, with its slimmer headlights that feature redesigned LED daytime running lights along their tops.

This facelifted model is expected to debut in 2022.

Around the side, this i3 sedan is noticeably longer than the Australian-spec 3 Series thanks to the longer wheelbase.

There’ll be a choice of two different alloy wheel designs, one 18-inch and one 19-inch.

The 19-inch alloy wheel design appears to be very similar to the design used on the i4 eDrive40 trim level.

Notably, this i3 sedan will be equipped with rear air suspension as standard.

At the back is where the i3 sedan picks up another i4 design trait.

On the rear bumper there’s a faux-diffuser with built-in reflectors that’s accented with either light blue or body colour strips.

There are also a set of redesigned LED tail lights, as per the upcoming 3 Series facelift.

Overall, this i3 sedan is said to have a kerb weight just over two tonnes (2029kg), close to the 2050kg i4 all-electric coupe.

BMW is said to be developing another all-electric 3-Series-sized sedan on its Neue Klasse architecture that’s due by 2025.

Autocar reports the sedan, codenamed NK1, will be positioned as an electric alternative to the next-generation 3 Series much as Porsche will simultaneously offer its Macan and the new, unrelated Macan EV.

Unlike the i3 sedan, i4, and soon-to-be revealed i5 and i7, the NK1 will reportedly blaze its own path.

It’s set to receive an “electric-centric” design with unique proportions and fresh styling elements, plus the flat interior floor and longer wheelbase typical of dedicated EVs.

All new electric BMWs from 2025 onwards will use the Neue Klasse architecture, with the architecture eventually replacing today’s FAAR and CLAR architectures.

It’s said Neue Klasse will support vehicles ranging in size from a 2 Series Gran Coupe to an X7, and will support vehicles with front-, rear- and all-wheel drive as well as various different battery packs.

Neue Klasse will feature 800V battery technology and 350kW charging capability, as seen on the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT.

By 2030, BMW is aiming to have an electric version of every one of its nameplates and have vehicles based on the Neue Klasse architecture account for 50 per cent of global sales.

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Jack Quick

Jack Quick is an emerging automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Jack recently graduated from Deakin University and has previously competed in dance nationally. In his spare time, Jack likes to listen to hyperpop and play Forza Horizon.

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