Like its Coupe sibling, the emotionally charged BMW i8 Concept Spyder combines intelligent lightweight design with the leading-edge drivetrain technology eDrive, while its open-top two-seater construction delivers an even more intense driving experience.
Compared with the Coupe variant of the BMW i8 Concept, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder has a slightly shorter wheelbase and overall length. With its compact dimensions and distinctive exterior paintwork, the sports car exudes a feeling of dynamism before it so much as turns a wheel, while striking features of its design include upward-swivelling, windowless doors and a transparent glass panel at the rear.
Underneath this cover two electric kickboards are stowed, providing a visual showcase for the fun factor in mobility and adding another layer to the car’s recreational appeal. Inside, a revised material and color concept provides an extra dose of sportiness.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]The BMW i8 Concept Spyder with eDrive is a plug-in hybrid combining two different power sources and employing the specific advantages of its electric motor and combustion engine to optimum effect. The hybrid drivetrain’s key components gel together with outstanding smoothness, allowing it to offer peerless dynamic capability and maximum efficiency. In other words, the open-top two-seater produces the performance of an out-and-out sports machine yet posts the fuel economy of a small car.
The 96 kW (131 hp) electric motor on the front axle works in tandem with a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine sending 164 kW (223 hp) through the rear wheels. Both units are in-house BMW Group developments and generate an aggregate system output of 260 kW (354 hp) and peak torque of 550 Newton meters. That is enough to accelerate the BMW i8 Concept Spyder from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in five seconds on the way to an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Despite this performance, the two-seater burns just three liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers (equivalent to fuel economy of 94 mpg UK or 78mpg US) in the European test cycle.
The electric motor sources its energy from a lithium-ion battery which can be fully charged from a domestic power socket in less than two hours. The high-output battery is located in the energy tunnel between the front and rear axle modules in order to keep the car’s centre of gravity as low as possible – and therefore to maximize the car’s dynamic performance. The space-saving and well-balanced packaging of this and other drive and chassis components gives the sporting two-seater ideal 50:50 weight distribution.
With its battery fully charged, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder can cover up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) on electric power alone. As such, far from filling in as a bit-part player, the electric motor plays a role equal to that of the petrol engine. If required, a high-voltage alternator hooked up to the combustion engine generates extra power, which is then stored in the hybrid battery. This range-extending function during the course of a journey allows the two-seater to travel further between charging stations.
Another special feature of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder is the ability to send power through the front, rear or all four wheels at the same time. Intelligent control electronics ensure that the optimum drive configuration is available for the situation at hand. The driver can view the driving mode currently engaged and monitor the activity of the two drive sources on the large information display in the cockpit.
Like the Coupe, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder is also built around the innovative LifeDrive architecture, a fusion of independent functional units. For example, the carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) Life module gives the car an extremely lightweight passenger cell, while the Drive modules – made primarily from aluminum components – bring together all the car’s operational driving functions, such as the powertrain, chassis and safety structure. Impressively extensive use of high-tech materials allows this innovative concept to chart new territory in terms of weight minimization, structural rigidity and crash safety. This is good news not only for the car’s dynamic performance, but also for its range and fuel economy. Intelligent lightweight design, encompassing the use of innovative materials, has allowed the unavoidable additional weight of the high-output hybrid drivetrain to be cancelled out in full. Plus, the LifeDrive architecture has been carefully adapted to the sports car character of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder. The front and rear axle modules are connected by an “energy tunnel”, which houses the hybrid battery. This allows the engineers to give the car a low centre of gravity and ideal balance.
The car is chock-full of new BMW technology, from the iPhone-enabled finders that pinpoint charging stations and parking spots to 3D console screens and high-sensitivity monitoring systems that alert drivers to precisely how much power the car is using. Sport mode and eco-mode are other drive options.
As you can see from the photos, the car features an aggressive, progressive design with verticle-hinged windowless doors and seats for two–this in contrast to the 2+2 seating we saw in the i8 coupe last year.
The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is also slightly shorter across the wheelbase and overall length than its predecessor.
Set to be produced at BMW’s Leipzig factory in Germany from the third quarter of 2014 onward, the i8 Spyder is destined to follow the i8 coupe to showrooms in 2014.