There has been much speculation about the potential release of a production version of the i8 that was teased back in February. This time we are being nice and not just teasing you, BMW is releasing this hybrid semi-supercar in 2014.
This release is coming on the heels of Ferrari announcing that it will officially debut its V-12 hybrid Enzo next year, which will bear a similar, though significantly larger, gasoline engine-electric motor setup as the i8 will. It seems with all of these sporty and relatively fast super-Eco cars coming out of the wood work even the big boys are taking a turn toward the green market.
With this sudden push to the green, it may be just a matter of time until the entire supercar realm is dominated by super-electrics, and these hybrids are certainly a push in the right direction. Plus, as automakers start seeing these hybrid and electric supercars, they might decide that their own high performance vehicles, like the Camaro, Mustang and Corvette, can bear electric or hybrid drivetrains and still deliver the performance their customers require.
Hit the jump for more information on the BMW i8.
Apparently, BMW is staying rather true to its concept, as the production i8 is reportedly going to be nearly identical to the concept, pop-up doors and all. The gasoline engine is confirmed as a 223 bhp, turbocharged 1.3-liter that also cranks out 221 pound-feet of torque. This gasoline engine will only drive the rear wheels. Driving the front wheels is a 170 bhp electric motor. This allows the i8 to be three cars in one, a rear-wheel-drive gasoline vehicle, a front-wheel-drive zero emissions vehicle, or even an all-wheel-drive hybrid vehicle. It’ll also feature a four-speed transmission, giving the i8 a nice performance range.
We’ll start of by telling you, this ain’t no Prius… At peak performance – gasoline engine and electric motor working together in all-wheel-drive mode – the 393 combined horsepower propel this ultra-modern vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in under five seconds. Top speed is also not an issue, as the i8 will reach 159 mph. As time progresses and its release becomes more firm, we will provide additional specs.
Range and Economy
Being a high-performance machine means that the i8 is not going to be your typical commuter, but it certainly could be if you wanted it. On a complete charge, the i8 can run in electric-only mode for 20 miles. This gives it a range nearing the Chevy Volt’s 30-mile maximum – not bad for a performance car. On average, the i8 will provide around 94 mpg, which exceeds the 2012 Prius by nearly double. Its recharging time is claimed to be six hours on a 220-volt system, but only about 60 minutes is needed on a higher voltage system.
So, What’s the Problem?
Well, there is always bad news, right? In this case the worst news is that BMW eliminated the M version of the i8, for now. So this means no option for the V-8 or L6 models we were hoping for when this project started. The other problem is its projected price of just above $132,600. Then again, if you were expecting a sub-$100,000 high-performance car with hybrid technology and fuel economy greater than a Prius, time to venture out of Wonderland, Alice… In the realm that this car is entering, which includes the $95,000 Fisker Karma and the $95,000 Porsche Panamera Hybrid, that price range seems somewhat reasonable for its combined performance and fuel economy.
Our suggestion is to wait it out before getting too excited about this car. Keep in mind that the performance numbers listed are at its maximum power, which is only good for 20 miles or so. Once it runs out of juice, you are then reliant on just the 223 bhp, 1.3-liter engine. Don’t misunderstand us, a 223 bhp 1.3-liter engine is impressive, but it’s not getting you to 60 mph in less than five seconds. We’ll continue to provide more updates as they become available.