Car news

02 August 2011

BMW reveals its i8 hybrid sportscar

Full details on Bee-Em’s petrol-electric sportscar and its i3 city car, coming here 2013

Vijay Pattni
Car image

BMW has just revealed a brand new sportscar, capable of hitting 62mph in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 155mph, while returning 100mpg. Welcome to the future, Internet.

This is the new i8 (above left), revealed today in Frankfurt alongside its baby brother, the i3 city car, as part of the Munich company's new ‘i' sub-brand with LifeDrive archiecture; a brand created to save the likes of the tufted puffin and green sea turtle from extinction while providing congestion-busting ‘mobility-solutions' for the city.

First, the i8. A near facsimile of the rather splendid Vision EfficientDynamics supercar revealed two years ago, the 2+2 sportscar features an electric motor over the front axle, and a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine on the rear producing 220bhp and 221lb ft of torque. In total, the hybrid drive - much like Peugeot's Hybrid4 system - pushes out 350bhp.

On battery power alone - and therefore FWD - the i8 can travel approximately 20 miles and takes 1.45h for a full charge, while emitting 66g/km of CO2.

But it's the lightweight design that allows for those astonishing base-911 performance figures and, hopefully, dynamic integrity. The central passenger tub is made from carbon fibre with aluminium crash structures sat at either end, while the front and rear powertrain are connected by an ‘energy tunnel' housing the high voltage battery, mounted to give the car a low centre of gravity and claimed 50/50 weight distribution. The whole car weighs just 1,480kg.

The aerodynamics of the car play an important role too, channelling air to create minimal disturbance and creating an ‘aerodynamically efficient silhouette'. It even gets those utterly bewitching scissor doors.

Next, the i3. Previously known as the Judge Dredd-sounding Megacity vehicle, it's an all-electric four-seater built for the city.

Using the same motor as the i8 sportscar mounted over the rear axle - and thus making it rear-wheel-drive - BMW's i3 (above right) produces 170bhp fed through a single-speed gearbox, good for a 0-60kph time of 3.9 seconds, a 0-100kph time of 7.9 seconds, 80-120kph in 6 seconds and a literally dizzying top speed of 93mph.

The battery takes six hours for a full charge or just one hour for an 80 per cent charge, and BMW has used lots of carbon-fibre and aluminium for the body, which keeps weight down to 1,250kg. Range is estimated at between 80-100 miles, but BMW says the i3 can be specified with an optional range extender (a small petrol engine and generator).

We'll see the i3 first, scheduled to launch in UK sometime in 2013, followed closely by the i8 in 2014. You need to start saving those milk-bottle tops, because the i8 is one fabulous vision of an electric future that doesn't induce a boredom coma.

What are your initial thoughts, loyal votaries of our Internet?

Lots of pics of the i3 and i8 here.


Tags: bmw, i8



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