Stunning BMW i8 Spyder revealed
This is the BMW i8 Concept Spyder, an open topped hybrid supercar that, despite the 'concept' part of its name, will make production in 2015. It will be nearly as quick as an Audi R8 Spyder, yet more economical than a regular Toyota Prius. Win...win!
The i8 is the halo supercar of BMW's forthcoming 'i' range of clean, green cars; so far, the company has unveiled the i3 city car and i8 coupé, which bookend what will become an entire range of eco cars.
Due in 2013, the i8 coupé was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, complete with a 349bhp output from a small petrol engine linked to an electric motor. BMW claimed 104mpg at the time.
This convertible version, which dispenses with the coupé's transparent doors as well as the roof, uses the same drivetrain. Slightly heavier - as is the convertible way because of the extra chassis strengthening needed - the i8 Spyder will hit 62mph in five seconds, while returning 94mpg. Its electric-only range is 19 miles.
The drivetrain works by linking a mid-rear mounted three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, capable of delivering up to 220bhp, to a 129bhp electric motor at the front.
The two combine to provide the i8's 349bhp peak power output, and with the petrol motor driving the rear wheels and the electric the fronts, it means rear-, front- or four-wheel drive is possible. It's a plug-in system.
BMW claims the battery will charge fully from empty in less than two hours using a special quick charging system, although as with all these things, the limitations of a regular household power supply mean laboriously long waiting times - probably six-to-eight hours.
The i8 uses carbon fibre extensively to keep weight down and chassis stiffness up. It's not quite the carbon monocell of the McLaren MP4-12C, but the combination of aluminium and carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) means the car weighs about the same as an Audi R8 Spyder, despite carrying two motors and a heavy battery pack.
The carbon-enabled structural integrity means the i8 Spyder can keep the spectacular 'swan' doors of the coupé.
We hope to find out more when the car is unveiled officially at the Beijing Motor Show this month, although BMW is unlikely to venture any pricing or on-sale details.
It's thought, however, that BMW will pitch both the coupé and Spyder versions of the i8 below the six-figure threshold. Back of the net.