The i8 from BMW is the German automaker’s first production plug-in hybrid and a part of its all electric sub-brand, BMW i. With an aerodynamically groundbreaking body design complemented by a luxurious and stylish interior, the BMW i8 immediately grabbed the attention it deserved when presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show this year.
Accentuating the design of the car is a layer over layer approach which gives a distinctive visual impression. Each section of the car has been designed with attitude and the clean lines impart lots of appeal to the i8. Dimension wise the i8 stands at 4,689 mm long, 1,942 mm wide and 1,293 mm tall, and features a 2,800 mm wheelbase. Being a hybrid car it has to be efficient in all aspects and this is reason behind the car’s low drag coefficient of 0.26. Other noticeable exterior highlights include air ducts along the upper surface, partially-blanked off kidney grilles, sealed underbody and a low-slug bonnet.
For the first time BMW has adopted long, upward opening doors. BMW is offering full-LED lamps as standard on the i8, while laser headlights are offered as an optional feature.
The construction of the i8 comprises of two parts – the first part is the life module passenger cell which is made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) and the second one is the drive system which consists of high-voltage battery, chassis, and crash structures that are seamlessly integrated in the life module passenger cell.
With lots of carbon-fibre and aluminium components, the total weight of the car builds up to 1490 kg that includes the battery pack and electric motors. In spite of a reasonably heavy weight the weight distribution has been so done that the car offers a very low center of gravity.
Talking about the powertrain of the car it features a new plug-in hybrid system comprising of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Majority of the power comes from an all new 1.5 litre three-cylinder petrol engine featuring BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, capable of developing 231 hp of power and 320 Nm of peak torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox that transmits the power to the rear wheels.
Working in parallel to the combustion engine is a bespoke hybrid synchronous electric motor that is capable of sending 131 hp and 250 Nm of torque that reaches the front wheels via a two stage automatic gearbox. The electric power is drawn from a lithium-ion high-voltage battery with liquid cooling. Together the two systems offer 362 hp and 570 Nm of torque, a 0 to 100km/h sprint time of 4.4 seconds and an electrically limited top speed of 250 km/h. The combination of these systems also offer all-wheel drive characteristics.
The i8 consumes 2.5 litre per of fuel per 100 km and CO2 emissions of 59 grams per kilometer, which is astonishing for a car of that size. BMW claims the car’s battery could be charged in three hours with a domestic power socket, whereas it takes only 120 minutes when using BMW i Wallbox.
eDrive, which is the car’s all electric mode, offers a driving range of up to 35 km and a top speed of 120 km/h. But when working in parallel with the petrol engine the car offers a range of over 500 km. Topping that off is a set of five distinct driving modes that are a apart of the Driving Experience Control system.
The car will have a suggested retail price of $135,925, and is expected to reach the showrooms in spring of 2014.