After the official presentation of its smaller i3 electric car, see now BMW is revving up for the big boom – the official outing of the production ready i8, treat which will be presented at Frankfurt.
Besides being the pinnacle of new technology and the best of the “i” brand, the new i8 – presented these days as a rolling prototype at a driving event at the BMW Group’s Miramas test track in France – will also become the new flagship of the entire BMW line-up. And all that while being a plug-in hybrid, with an electric engine and a smallish turbocharged 1.5-liter TwinPower petrol engine.
The i8 is really no stranger to us, after seeing it in concept form (Vision EfficientDynamics) at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show, then with the concept’s design revised, as a Spyder and with numerous prototypes testing all around the globe.
Building expectations for the official debut, confirmed for the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show in just over a month, BMW has decided (just like with i3) to provide details on the car’s technology and specifications. As we already know, i8 features a sophisticated drivetrain that pairs a turbocharged and direct-injected 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine with an electric motor. The former is used to drive the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission while the latter powers the front pair via an integrated two-stage automatic gearbox. Of course, both can be paired to provide a form of all-wheel-drive setup.
The engine develops 231 HP, with the electric one providing an additional 96 kilowatts (131 HP), and the system total output is 362 HP and 420 Lb-Ft, good for 0-60 mph in under 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. The characteristic BMW i LifeDrive architecture consists of the aluminum “Drive” module, which incorporates the internal combustion engine and electric motor, the battery, the power electronics and the chassis components, along with structural and crash functions, and the “Life” module, which essentially comprises the 2+2-seater CFRP passenger cell. This architecture also gives a very low centre of gravity and a near-perfect 50:50 axle load ratio.
In the U.S., a full recharge of the lithium-ion battery takes approximately 3.5 hours from a conventional 120-volt, 12-amp household socket while at a BMW i Wallbox it will take less than two hours. The all-electric driving capability has a range of up to 35 km (approx. 22 miles) and a top speed of 120 km/h (approx. 75 mph). Also, the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles averages the fuel consumption at 2.5l/100 km (over 113 mpg) with CO2 emissions of less than 59 g/km.
The new i8 has a length of 4689 mm (15.4 ft), a width of 1942 mm (6.4 ft) and a height of just 1293 mm (42 ft), with a long wheelbase of 2800 mm (9.18 ft) and a drag coefficient of just 0.26. Weight is at less than 3,285 pounds (1490 kg).