02 April 2012 - 12:00
BMW i8 Spyder revealed
i8 Spyder. Not the sound of a Queenslander expressing hatred for an arachnid, but BMW's roofless, two-seat hybrid concept.
It'll be unveiled at this year's Beijing auto show later this month and is, as you'd imagine, a pretty good sign that Munich's going to give us a drop-top to join the i8 coupe. For those hard of memory, that's the 250km/h, 2L/100km sportster due to land in showrooms come 2014.
The i8 Spyder concept is a little stinted compared to its coupe brother, though. Under the two-section folding roof it's slightly shorter and there's a more compact wheelbase, suggesting its original proportions - based on the splendid Vision EffecientDynamics supercar of 2009 - have been rethunk.
BMW has kept the swan doors, which swivel up like the wings of a, umm, swan... They're retained thanks to the amount of carbon that's used in the i8's super-stiff passenger ‘Life' cell, which is made from carbonfibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).
Underneath, there's an aluminium chassis with a lithium-ion battery buttered along its length, keeping the centre of gravity nice and low and achieving a 50:50 weight distribution. It's got the same plug-in powertrain as the coupe, too; a petro-electro melange of 95kW electric motor driving the front wheels and three-cylinder turbo petrol engine sending 165kW to the rears (that's 260kW in all).
Unlike the 2L/100km coupe, the convertible only claims a piffling 2.5L/100km, but charge time on a domestic socket is impressive; BMW says it would be "less than two hours". It'll do 30km on EV power alone, and the batteries are charged up when you coast, cruise and stop.
There are, as you'd imagine, some spurious concepty add-ons. Also included are a pair of electric scooters housed under a transparent tailgate, a camera-based proactive collision warning feature, and the interior can be pre-warmed on a cold morning so it's all toasty and warm when you go to drive it.
But still, look at it. This is definitely a vision of the future we like. Your thoughts on the arachnid-hating Queenslander of tomorrow, TopGear.comrades?
And you can read about its slightly smaller twin brother, the i3, right here
UPDATE: BMW has now released footage of the i8 Spyder in action - watch it here: