BMW i might be about visionary concept cars but our guess is that the i3, i8 and a whole line-up of i-cars will be coming to a BMW showroom near you in the not too distant future.
For those folks wondering what BMW i is all about, think of it an entirely new brand from the luxury German carmaker, but one that focuses on the ‘Green’ approach to everyday motoring. BMW’s i brand will display both the i3 and i8 concepts at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September and what you see, is very likely, what you will get – meaning the series production version of these cars will look similar to the concepts.
Take BMW i3; this will be the company’s first mass-produced all-electric car that encompasses premium quality and sustainability in a city car package. Based on BMW’s LifeDrive architecture, the i3 concept is light (1 250 kg), spacious, safe and dynamic. Using lightweight materials and intelligent design, the i3 will be able to travel extended distances on a single charge. Occupant safety in the event of a collision is also a high priority on the i3, as are safety control systems, which give the car typical BMW style driving dynamics.
It’s not exactly slow either; the electric motor that sits over the rear axle generates 125 kW/250 Nm of torque and that’s enough to propel the i3 from 0 – 100 km/h in under 8 seconds. More likely though, given its urban environment, will be off the line starts from 0 – 60km/h in less than four seconds. That’s because pure electric powered cars get the benefit of near enough to their peak torque output coming on song from zero r/min, or the instant you drop the throttle.
Special attention has been paid to cabin space and comfort in the i3 too, with an open and lounge like environment using sustainable materials for much of the interior trim. The leather for instance, is naturally tanned and the easy ingress and egress afforded passengers by the wide-opening coach doors should be hugely practical for school drop offs and pick ups. There’s also a 200-litre boot capacity and another compartment up front for extra storage.
Tech convenience will mean drivers will be able to access many i3 functions remotely via a smart phone such as; find your car, locate charging stations and prepare for battery charging by simply hitting a button.
The i8 is a little different. It’s a two-plus-two plug-in hybrid sports car concept that is powered by a modified version of the i3’s electric drive and a tuned three-cylinder combustion powerplant. With 164 kW/300 Nm the i8 classifies as a green supercar. Performance is a highly creditable 0 – 100km/h in less than five seconds but that pails into insignificance against its less than 3L/100km fuel consumption.
Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the i8 can be re-charged from a home power outlet and that’s enough to travel 35 kilometres on electricity only. The electric motor is housed inside the front axle module and the combustion engine is at the rear for a perfect 50:50 weight distribution. The i8 is also dynamically sound with a very low centre of gravity.
Like all BMW’s, the i3 and i8 are driver-focused cars that allow for a high level of enjoyment for those behind the wheel.