BMW has taken great strides recently with its i-series models, and the latest i8 spyder design shows some real signs of maturity as we get closer and closer to a public release. The BMW i8 Spyder Concept will be on show at the auto show in Beijing in late April 2012.
Upwards Swiveling Doors
Compared to the previous coupe variant, the i8 Spyder Concept brings a slightly shorter wheelbase of 2.65 metres, with the overall length being reduced by 15 centimeters to 4.48 metres. In addition, the Spyder is a pure two-seater, as opposed to the original i8 which was designed as a 2+2. One of the first new features you will notice is the striking upwards-swiveling window-less doors which give a clear indication of the futuristic direction BMW are taking with the i8 Spyder. Under a transparent glass cover of the rear area, there are two e-kickboards, a type of scooter with handlebars and an engine. Inside, the materials and color scheme have been revised from the original i8. The switches were previously rather “futuristic” but have now been scaled back slightly as we near a production version.
BMW has kept its so-called “LifeDrive” architecture, which consists of multiple independent functional modules put together to create the overall body. The passenger module (“Life-module”) is constructed almost fully from carbon fiber making it very light, while the majority of the other drive related modules are made of aluminum, including: the powertrain, chassis and safety structure. The BMW i8 Spyder Concept has a curb weight of 1,630 kilograms, which for a 2 seater sports car, is actually on the heavy side. The i8 Spyder will be on show in Beijing without a roof, but the eventual production model will receive a two-piece targa top in case you do actually want to drive it for more than 3 months a year.
One of the most exciting features (in our minds anyway) of the i8 is the dual power hybrid system. The front wheels are powered by a 96 kW (131 hp) electric motor, while the rear wheels have their own independent three cylinder turbo petrol 164 kW (223 hp) engine. Combined, these engines produce a total output of 260 kW (354 hp) with a maximum torque of 550 Newton meters. All this means that the i8 sprints to 100 km/h in just 5 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. Now comes the exciting part, according to BMW, the i8 Spyder uses only an average of 3 liters of fuel per 100 km or 94 mpg. Of course this doesn’t take into account the extra costs involved in charging the electric motor, but even so, these are very impressive numbers from a powerful sports car.
The electric motor draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery that can be fully recharged at any household outlet in less than two hours. The battery sits in the so-called “energy tunnel” between the front and rear axles to keep the center of gravity as low as possible with perfect 50:50 weight distribution. With full energy storage, the BMW Concept Spyder i8 can cover up to 30 kilometers on electric power alone. It is stressed that the electric motor is not an auxiliary power unit, it should be used in conjunction with the petrol engine. A high-voltage alternator is hooked up to the petrol engine to generate electricity that is stored in the hybrid battery. Another exciting feature of the i8 spyder is that it can run in front wheel drive mode, rear wheel drive mode, or all wheel drive mode. In auto mode the computer will automatically select the most economical mode for the current driving conditions, or the modes can be changed manually by the driver.
To run at the maximum of efficiency, BMW have included a smart networking system allowing live traffic data to be fed into the computer. This allows the computer to calculate the most efficient route based on traffic jams, roadworks and speed limits, and also the drive mode of the engines. BMW are also developing a range of other smart phone enabled features including an app to locate your car in a large car park and an app to show you near-by charging stations.
Still being a concept, there is no data available on pricing, but the i8 Spyder will be the flagship model in the i-series and will demand a price fitting of this title. As soon as more information becomes available, we will do another write-up.
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