2015 BMW i8. Click image to enlarge
Preview by Justin Pritchard, photos courtesy BMW
When BMW officials pulled the sheets off of their upcoming i8 plug-in sports car, fans the world over took to Twitter, blogs and Facebook excitedly ranting about the striking looks, advanced technologies and the fact that this machine did something unconventional and looked even better than its concept.
Riding a Carbon-Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) shell to which cutting-edge, so-called ‘e-drive’ implements are bolted, the i8 was developed to provide all-electric around-town mobility and a sporty dose of BMW performance in more open spaces.
The gist? BMW i8 drivers will benefit from a three-cylinder gas engine that the automaker says is “highly turbocharged”, as well as an electric motor drive system that work together via intelligent energy management. The mid-mounted 1.5L unit, which should make its way under the hood of the next-generation Mini Cooper, makes 231 hp, all of which are sent to the rear wheels by a six-speed automatic for now, and a nine-speed automatic later. No manual transmission, of course.
The 131 hp electric system powers the front wheels with a range up to 35 kilometres and a top speed of 120 km/h – after charging fully in as little as 1.5 hours on an available quick charger, or 3.5 hours if you plug it into the same outlet as your exterior Christmas lights. Of course, as this is an electric motor, more power is a few laptop keystrokes away for the right engineer when it comes time to launch a higher-performing, perhaps M-badged version. A convertible i8 Sypder concept has also been launched, too.
But, for the time being, the i8 should satisfy even hardcore driving enthusiasts. Total system output for the i8 when it goes on sale as a 2015 model? How does 362 hp – alongside consumption figures of 2.5 L/100 km. You’d probably spend more money feeding a Chihuahua.
Other important numbers? The electric motor, with its constant torque output, helps net 420 lb-ft of the stuff, and the curb weight is reported at 1,490 kg (3,285) pounds – or about the same as a Honda Accord. There are two doors, four seats and all-wheel drive.
The advanced aerodynamics and BMW-designed propulsion systems all work towards the goal of pure-bred performance and an ultra-efficient package, as do the weight savings. These extend down to materials selected for the climate control ducts, seats, and even the window glass. Said glass is thin and chemically-hardened and nearly identical in make up to the stuff you’ll find on your iPad.