BMW’s production i8 makes a world premiere at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

by Sayan Chakravarty

Ever since a prototype version made an onscreen appearance in Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, BMW i8 quickly managed to build itself quite a fan base across the globe. The moment that we all have been waiting for has finally arrived! The long awaited production version of i8 was unveiled by BMW at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. It is BMW’s second ‘i’ model to be launched following the i3 EV which was revealed earlier this year. This 2 + 2 sports coupe definitely is the best looking PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) and has it all to be a pin-up poster hero.

BMW claims it to be the world’s most forward-looking sports car and there are a fair bit of reasons to believe that. The overall design loosely resembles BMW’s M1 E26. The good news is, on the outside, BMW has changed very little from the i8 concept, retaining most of it. However, on the inside, the exaggerated futuristic cabin has been swapped for a more toned down interior lifted from the current BMW range. The three spoke steering wheel, electronic dash and lightweight racing seats give it a sporty yet futuristic feel.

Even in its production guise, it looks very attractive. For the first time, BMW has experimented with laser headlamps which will be available as an option. The U-shaped taillights are similar to the ones on i3. The layered panels on the body are function focused details that steer the airflow across the wheels decreasing the drag. The drag co-efficient of the i8 is just 0.26. The shaped wings that stretch from the rear door to the quarter panel not only act as spoilers but add visual appeal to the design. And not to forget the skyward opening butterfly doors, who can possibly ever dislike those?

The i8 features BMW’s proprietary LifeDrive architecture developed specifically for all the ‘i’ models. The passenger cell is moulded entirely out of carbon-fibre-reinforced-plastic (CFRP) which is integrated into the all-aluminium chassis. Thanks to all the super weight saving measures, the i8 weighs only 1,490 kg (3,285lbs), which is extremely impressive considering it is a Hybrid loaded with batteries.

Another first timer on this vehicle is its powertrain. BMW has fitted the i8 with an all new 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. It churns out 231 PS (228hp) and 320 Nm (236 lb-ft) of torque which is channelled to the rear wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is assisted by an eDrive synchronous electric motor that produces 96kW (129hp) and 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) of torque, which powers the front wheels through a two-stage transmission. The i8 gets a total power output of 362 PS (357hp) and 570 Nm (420 lb-ft) of torque, enough for it to make a 0-62mph sprint in just 4.4 seconds and flat out at 155mph (250 Km/h). That’s Porsche 911 territory. And for a car that does 94 miles per gallon, it’s an unbelievable feat.

It might not be a show-stopper, but is definitely one the stars of the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. It will go on sale in the US, which is expected to be its biggest market, in 2104 with a price-tag of $135,925.






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