Usually, BMW introduces a concept car at an auto show, then follows up with the real thing—the production model. Then they build another concept for another show. But the Vision Concept of 2009 has not only come back as another concept coupe—the i8 hybrid—but it’s now about to appear in concept form in another iteration: the i8 Concept Spyder.
Alas, the swoopy little roadster will not appear at the New York Auto Show, but will debut at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in late April.
And it seems to be a true roadster, or a true roadsterish thingie, with no top (although there is mention of a folding top to be developed) and no back seats, even the vestigial 2+2 afterhoughts of the i8 hybrid coupe.
Like the coupe, the Spyder features upward-pivoting doors and an intriguing array of power equipment. Primary power comes from a mid-mounted turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine sending power—223 horsepower—to the rear wheels. A 96 kW (131 horsepower) electric motor on the front axle works in tandem with the gas engine, giving the car rear-drive, front-drive, and all-wheel-drive characteristics.
In full storming mode, the aggregate system puts out 354 horsepower—and the benefits of electric torque give it over 400 pound-feet of torque. Why, yes, roadster fans, that should suffice: 62 mph come up in five seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph—electronically governed, of course.
But here’s the cool part about electric technology. The i8 Spyder’s lithium-ion battery can be recharged on ordinary household current in about two hours. The car can run on the battery alone for nearly twenty miles, but that’s not really what it’s for; as with current BMW hybrids, the electric motor augments the gasoline engine—and the gas engine serves to re-charge the batteries, making the whole setup into a range-extended platform. The overall effect results in a sports car that performs quite nicely—did I mention 50:50 weight distribution?—while delivering fuel economy of just three liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers. That works out to over 78 U.S. miles per gallon: Take that, Mister Prius!—Satch CarlsonBack to News