There aren’t too many upgrades you can do to a BMW i3, but one of the more common is to firm up the ride by installing a slight lowering kit. The BMW i3, as stock, gives the impression of a slightly jacked up hatchback / compact SUV, even though it’s just a small hatchback.
The stock ride is OK – it’s both somewhat firm, yet a bit bouncy when it comes handling bumps, and when cornering on the hard side has some slightly wallow-y elements. It’s going to be good for most people, but at the same time, I thought there was room for improvement – or at the least, an (expensive) experiment to see if it could be made better.
Here’s my i3 before the upgrade:
The most common spring upgrade out there seems to be the H&R sport springs. Note that these are offered with two different spring ratings for the BEV vs the REX models of the i3, given the REX is slightly heavier with its small petrol engine. There are others too, but not that I could find that would easily be imported and fitted in Australia.
The H&R’s offer a lower of around 20mm at the front and 30mm at the rear which gives the i3 a much sportier stance. The purchase and installation of the H&R i4 spring set was taken care of by City Performance Centre in Artarmon – and as I’d expected, this was the first i3 they had worked on. The spring cost was just over $500, plus another $500 labour, give or take, to install. Best to ask them for a final quote if you are interested in the same upgrade, now they have worked on an i3 it may be a little cheaper.
From a visual point of view, I definitely prefer the i3 in it’s mildly lowered stance. It would look better still with a slightly wider wheel track with spacers installed, but I didn’t feel like going that far this time around. Maybe in future.
It’s a subtle upgrade from the outside. The ride is definitely firmer and planted during cornering , but it’s not perfect – with some of the bounciness over Sydney’s bumpier roads still there, and a little added crashiness which I assume is due to less overall spring travel.
I feel like for 70% of the time where it’s just me in the car, I’m fine with the trade-off. However when the family jumps in and I’d like everything to be a little smoother and compliant, I’d possibly be prefer to be back on the stock springs – but it’s hard to say as I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison with another i3 since the upgrade.
All up, it’s a trade-off. If I keep the car for a few years (I am not sure I will with the Tesla Model 3 around the corner) then I would be tempted to test drive a stock i3 again before deciding about a downgrade.
Worth the upgrade cost? I’m not sure. I’d hoped these would be a total solution (improved appearance and ride) for a relatively minor problem, which they are not – so in that regard, no. But I don’t regret trying it, and am happy enough keeping the H&R springs on for now.