At the Frankfurt Motor show today, BMW pulls cover off what could be one of the most unique and ground breaking cars in the company’s history. A new 2+2 sports car with a modern take on the 8-Series moniker, the i8 will be a halo to the new “i” brand of BMW electrified cars.
The 2014 i8 no concept car, but the first production plug-in hybrid from BMW, combining the most technologically advanced build techniques, forward-looking power-train design, and enjoying both extremes of performance and efficiency.
The i8 is built almost entirely of light-weight and strong carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, or CFRP, with aluminum sub-frames for its suspension and drive-train components. At 3,285 lbs it promises to use its 362 total system horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque well.
The style is emotional and daring, accentuating both its modern place in the BMW lineup as well as its sustainable goals. Like a true super-car it has doors that open upward scissor style, LED headlamps and even optional laser headlights.
The drive-train is a showcase of the latest thinking on power and efficiency. At the rear of the i8 is a 1.5 liter ultra high performance three-cylinder twin turbocharged engine which on its own produces some 231 horsepower. That’s over 150 horsepower per liter!
The engine sends power exclusively to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, while up front an electric motor powers the front wheels. With 131 horsepower, the motor features a two-stage automatic transmission to create a full all-wheel-drive sports chassis.
A lithium-ion battery stores power both from plug-in charging and regenerative braking, using that power to either assist the gasoline engine or to propel the i8 entirely on electric power when the engine isn’t needed. All in, the total system can deliver 362 horsepower.
Because of its light weight, the i8 can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds. And when you imagine that performance, keep in mind BMW says the new i8 can achieve 94 mpg with a full charge and full tank. Incredible.
Drivers will be able to choose a multitude of driving modes through a ”Driving Experience Control” switch and “eDrive” button. Five separate drive modes allow for mild to wild starting with an EV all-electric mode all the way up to a Sport Mode where the electric motor’s full power is added with the gasoline engine.
A few of the chassis highlights include double-wishbone front suspension, five-link at the rear, electric power steering, dynamic dampers and standard 20” alloy wheels. The passenger cell is made of strong CFRP, with doors made of a combined CFRP and aluminum structure. The instrument panel support is made of magnesium and the drivetrain chassis structure aluminum.
The cockpit has a 100% digital instrument display, the obligatory BMW iDrive, and sports seating for four. The infotainment and features list is too long to list here, suffice it to say it has everything you can get from BMW, almost all of it standard.
Many of the materials in the cabin are made of recycled materials but worry not, you still get genuine leather hides on the seats, instrument panel, door panels and console as we expect with a top-shelf BMW. Exposed bits of carbon fiber around the interior add a nice touch as well.
The new 2014 BMW i8 will be produced in Leipzig, Germany and will arrive in US showrooms in spring 2014. Pricing starts at an MSRP of $135,700 plus destination and handling. If you want one, you’d better get on the list at your local dealer now. For more news and test drives of hybrid or electric vehicles see our partner channel Motoring2.com.