BMW, a hallmark of German engineering, has shown a firm commitment to electronic technology with its “i” sub-brand. This is evident after the launch of it i3 utility vehicle, but, above all, in the promising future of the imminent i8 series. BMW´s first plug in hybrid aims to compete with other super sport cars with efficiency rather than amenities, although it will certainly feature many luxurious extras.
The 2014 BMW i8 has a mechanical system that features a gasoline engine with three-cylinders, 1.5 cubic inches and 231 horsepower, plus a 131 HP electric engine and a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged at home “in less than three hours,” according to the German firm. With 362 hp, the vehicle can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, reaching a top speed of 155 mph.
This acceleration surpasses by 0.2 seconds the BMW 650i, which has 449 hp. How is this possible, considering that the 650i is a more powerful car? The main difference is that while the Series 6 model weighs 4,122 pounds, the i8 does not exceed 3,306 pounds thanks to the lightweight technology used in its aluminum chassis and a body made of plastic reinforced with carbon fiber.
But it is in the field of efficiency where the BMW i8 really beats its counterparts. The hybrid offers a very low fuel consumption: it can travel 94 miles with one gallon of gasoline while the level of CO2 emissions declared promises not to exceed 60 grams per kilometer.
In addition, for short distances, the new BMW i8 allows the exclusive use of electric mode, which lets you drive up to 21 miles with zero-emissions at a top speed of 74 miles per hour. At that time, the vehicle will transfer the driving force to the front wheels only because when both engines work simultaneously, the vehicle has AWD. Besides, the i8 supports three additional driving modes: Sport, for those who prefer to drive the sports car as such, Comfort, for a more comfortable and assisted drive, and Eco Pro when the autonomy takes priority. Other models from the firm also allow different driving modes, including the 6 Series.
The BMW i8 is a traditional coupe for four passengers (2 +2) with two doors that open vertically and swing out. Its dimensions are 16.27 feet long, 6.36 wide and 4.23 high, with a wheelbase of 9.19 feet and a drag coefficient of 0.26. It comes with independent suspension on all four wheels, shock absorbers of varying hardness, and 20-inch tires.
A striking feature in the interior of the i8 is the digital display on the dashboard, but the feeling of quality and exclusivity is also marked by other elements such as leather sports seats and the BMW iDrive system with separate screen. The bad news is that, within the amenities, there are several elements of information technology, entertainment and driver assistance that don’t come standard, but are offered as extra options, which raises its price significantly.
The new BMW i8 is expected to hit the market in early 2014 with a starting price for the United States that has already been set at $135,700. ■