When BMW first unveiled the new i-brand cars, the world did not expect the concepts to become reality in such a short time. When a conceptual design study is undertaken, most of the time the designers are let lose on to a clean sheet of paper and come up with the best possible show car for the occasion. In recent times, BMW has shown us some production ready concepts, but the i8 always seemed way ahead of its time.
In 2012, BMW unveiled the i8 Spyder Concept . Based on the coupe, the i8 Spyder has been confirmed for production in 2015. We could expect the electric sports car to be available in showrooms in the latter part of 2015. The open-top version wouls use the same composite materials and architecture unique to BMW’s i-range of cars which also includes thei3 hatchback .
Although, its too early to comment on the pricing of the upcoming BMW i8 Spyder , we expect it to cost slightly more than the coupe. Performance shouldn’t affected despite the roof being chopped off.
Click past the jump to read in detail about the 2015 BMW i8 Spyder
BMW launched the i-brand in multiple markets across the globe simultaneously. Today, the company has two models on offer with demand for both all-electric cars being extremely high. They already have bookings pending for this year and will not be accepting anymore orders. Now, lets take a look at what the 2015 BMW i8 Spyder has to offer.
Based on the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept, the BMW i8 Coupe is one of the most advanced automobiles on the planet. Like the coupe, the i8 Spyder will use aluminium and carbon fiber composite plastics in abundance. The combination of a high-strength aluminium-composite chassis which houses all the drivetrain components and a superstructure shaped like a star-ship of some sort.
The BMW i8 Sypder Concept shown earlier featured a removable hard-top. The production model is expected to use a similar setup. That said, the exterior would be no less striking than the coupe. The concept however, had a shorter wheelbase than its coupe cousin. A semi-transparent window on the bonnet offers a glimpse of the electric motor that resides underneath. The headlights are all-LED and the twin-kidneys have neat blue borders which has become a trait of the i-brand cars.
The front bumper is complex part with multiple surfaces overlapping to form a very attractive and sporty, yet functional bumper. All the exterior panels are made of carbon fiber composite plastics- a new material that is being manufactured on an industrial scale specifically for BMW-i. CFRP is strong and weighs less than conventional steel or aluminum panels.
Doors open like the wings on a bird and since hinges are placed around the A-pillar we could expect them to be a part of the Spyder . The scissor doors on other cars sometimes cannot be accommodated on open-top versions due to its design constraints. The ones on the i8 should not cause much of an issue. The raked rear windshield will be replaced with more 3D surfacing and a flat deck lid.
From the outside, the BMW i8 looks very special. But, what about the interior? The dashboard is lined with specially tanned leather and uses a new design technique called "layering". The complete passenger-cell is made up of carbon fiber reinforced plastic for high strength and rigidity.
The center console is angled towards the driver which can be found on all BMW cars these days and the layout is very familiar too. i-Drive controls and drive select lever is located on the central tunnel. The instrument cluster is made up of a large display panel. Multi-functional steering wheel bespoke to BMW-i electric cars has been provided. Overall, the switch gear looks and feels very premium.
BMW offers customers to choose from four interior color themes with contrast stitching. The seats are wrapped in leather which gives it a more exclusive look. Now, given the shortened wheelbase of the i8 Spyder, the rear seats of the coupe would not make it onto the Spyder. Also, since there isn’t much space to store your luggage, the 2015 BMW i8 Spyder would be a no-nonsense sports car through and through.
We expect the upcoming BMW i8 Spyder to use the same powertrain as that of the coupe. The BMW i8 Coupe uses a 1.5-liter range-extender. This 3-cylinder motor puts out 231 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. An electric motor is connected to the front axle which drives the front wheels, while the engine provides power to the rear axle.
The electric motor is rated at 131 horsepower and develops a torque of 184 pound-feet. Thus, combined output of the whole system comes to 362 horsepower and 420 pound-feet putting the i8 right contention with some the most popular sports cars available in the market today. Batteries are neatly tucked away under the central tunnel.
A six-speed automatic gearbox has been employed to get the best out of the 1.5-liter engine while the electric motor has a two-stage transmission mated to it. That may sound a bit confusing but as driver, you are offered two drive modes; "D" and "Sport". Then there’s something called a "Driving Experience Control Switch" which allows the driver to choose between "Comfort" and "ECO PRO" modes. The default mode whenever you get into the car is "comfort".
With the batteries charged up and the tank brimmed with fuel, the i8 coupe has a range of up to 372 miles (on ECO PRO mode). The car can be driven on electric power only for about 22 miles after which you would need to find an electric socket. That said, in the i8 coupe’s case, you always have the petrol engine as backup.
Charging the batteries takes about 3.5 hours on a 120-volt household plug. The i8 Spyder should deliver similar performance as the coupe. This is a true hybrid sports car as 60 mph comes up in just 4.4 seconds and can reach a top speed of 155 mph.
Drivetrain Specifications (Est)
|Gasoline Engine||BMW TwinPower Turbo 1.5-Liter|
|Electric Motor||Hybrid Synchronous Motor With Power|
|Total Output||362 Horsepower|
|Total Torque||420 Pound-Feet|
|Acceleration (0-60 Mph)||4.2 Sec.|
|Top Speed||155 MPH|
|Fuel Economy (MPGe)||95|
|Total Range||310 Miles (372 Miles W/ ECO PRO)|
|Electric Range||22 Miles|
BMW is yet to reveal the price of the 2015 BMW i8 Spyder. Having said that, the coupe is available at $135,925. We could expect the i8 Spyder to be priced slightly higher than that of the coupe.
Comparing the BMW i8 to something like a Porsche 911 does not seem right. In fact, the only reason why I chose to mention the Carrera 4S is for what it costs. The 991-generation Porsche Carrera 4S is priced just above $105,000 for the base coupe while the cabriolet would be somewhere around $120,000. That having said, similarities between the i8 and the C4S are almost non-existent.
However, if you are in for a car this price bracket, the Porsche 911 will cross your mind during the thought process. Unlike the BMW i8 which is plug-in hybrid, the Porsche is more of a planet killer, so to speak. If you want a sports car to take you around town and be noticed, the Porsche seems like a good choice. However, if style is what you are after, then the BMW i8 is undoubtedly more attractive of the two.
The Porsche uses a 3.8-liter boxer engine with 400 horsepower on tap (about 40 horsepower more than the i8 coupe) and 325 pound-feet of torque (thanks to a combination of electric motor and gasoline powered engine, the i8 coupe puts out 420 pound-feet of torque). Now, the C4S uses an all-wheel drive system which means the least amount horsepower is wasted. Thanks to this, the C4S is propelled to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 187 mph. That’s seriously quick.
So to sum up, you get more power, less torque, blistering speed, a bit more space and bad fuel economy. But, you don’t need to plug-in to charge the batteries and you will do more harm to the environment with every mile covered.
Gallery Porsche Carrera 4 and 4S
Yes, the Audi R8 is a brilliant piece of kit. It is well built and ticks most of the right check boxes when it comes to supercars. It is a 2-seat, mid-engine, all-wheel drive supercar with a V8 engine nestled under a very attractive body. Much like the Porsche, the 4.2-liter V8 puts out 430 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque and the sprint from 0-60 mph is over in just 4.5 seconds. The Audi R8 can do speeds well over 155 mph where the BMW i8 would top out.
Having said that, the Audi R8 is not the most fuel efficient of the lot. It would attract attention, for sure. But, not the kind of attention you would like. I mean, would you like to be called a spoiled brat over a civilized and responsible auto enthusiast? Certainly not.
Audi plans to introduce a hybrid car based on the Audi R8. According to Audi, the e-tron would use new generation lithium-ion batteries that should give the car a maximum range of 250 electric only miles. It would be a limited production model.
Gallery Audi R8 Spyder
BMW’s foray into the electric car segment has been something the company can be proud of. The world has responded in a positive way to both the i3 hatchback and the i8 sports car. The efforts put into the project is really commendable as we have two premium electric-hybrid cars built from the ground up. Until now, most car makers were experimenting with electric drives fitted into a standard bodyshell.
The i8 Spyder does seem like a better alternative to gas-guzzling supercars. The performance is simply mind-boggling for a hybrid. The electric motor plays a huge role in providing instant torque and coupled with the 1.5-liter engine, the i8 can give most supercars a run for their money. It may not sound as good as an Audi V8, but it would most definitely get more attention. And it handles like a Bimmer!
- Futuristic design
- superior performance
- acceptable overall range
- No back seat
- replacement parts can be expensive