BMW i8 Spyder

September 19, 2013
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BMW i8 Spyder

BMW i8 Spyder

BMW’s i8 Spyder shows that no matter how high-tech, carbon-fiber-clad, or battery-laden the car, some conventional rules still apply.

In this case, even the mighty Bavarian automaker couldn’t escape the Aristotelian maxim, “Where there is a coupe, soon follows a convertible.” (We may be a bit rusty on our Greek history.)

And so we have this BMW i8 Spyder, which essentially is an i8 coupe without a fixed roof. Critically, though, the BMW i8 Spyder looks more like a production vehicle than did the coupe concept, and so it gives us a decent idea of what both body styles will look like when they actually go on sale.

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BMW i8 Spyder doors open

BMW i8 Spyder

What’s Been Changed

The fundamental construction of both roofed and roofless i8s is the same: a carbon-fiber passenger cell called the Life Module” mated with the “Drive Module,” which contains the electric motor for propulsion, lithium-ion battery pack for energy storage, and three-cylinder gasoline range-extender. There are, however, many differences between the i8 coupe and BMW i8 Spyder.

For starters, BMW says the open-top car is a little shorter overall than the i8 coupe, and the wheelbase is shorter, too. The proportions look more like those of an actual car, and the driver no longer appears to sit in the forward half of the wheelbase.

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BMW i8 Spyder top view

BMW i8 Spyder

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Doors are now made of opaque material—presumably the same thermoplastic that covers the rest of the exterior—and they have bona-fide handles to open them. We saw the same thing on an BMW i8 Spyder prototype recently caught by our spy photographers. The doors of the BMW i8 Spyder are still hinged at the front and swing upward and outward. Above them, a windscreen surround is now black instead of body-color, and the side windows actually look like they could slide down into the doors. Around back, the Spyder is similar to the coupe below the beltline, but above it, replaces the coupe’s sheet of glass (or plastic) with a panel incorporating dual fairings. BMW also has added a gimmicky storage bay for two electric scooters. It’s unknown how the open-air area will be covered in production form.The car will feature all-LED lighting, and not the laser-based units currently under development.

The BMW i8 Spyder’s interior also looks just a hint more ready for real life than the coupe’s. The psychedelic center console seems to be coming down from its trip, with real buttons next to the shifter, a discernible climate control system, and a standard iDrive knob.

BMW i8 Spyder front view

BMW i8 Spyder

A Quick Powertrain Refresher

Stashed beneath the BMW i8 Spyder’s body panels and interior trimmings you’ll find the same powertrain from the coupe. A 129-hp electric motor lives up front, and a turbocharged 220-hp inline-three is mounted in the rear. BMW says total output is 349 hp and 406 lb-ft, and that power can be shunted to the front, rear, or all four wheels. It’s possible that both the i8 coupe and BMW i8 Spyder could get much more power, as there won’t be an M version.

BMW i8 Spyder engine

BMW i8 Spyder

 

BMW i8
BMW i8 IAA 2015 04.jpg

 

BMW i8

ManufacturerBMWAlso calledBMW Concept Vision Efficient DynamicsProductionLeipzigClassSports carGrand TourerBody styleCoupéCombustion engine1.5 liter, 3 cylinder turbo gasoline
Electric motor98 kW (131 hp)
Battery7.2 kWh lithium-ion battery
Range500 km (310 mi) Comfort mode
600 km (370 mi) Eco Pro mode
Electric range35 km (22 mi)
Wheelbase2,800 mm (110 in)
Length4,700 mm (190 in)
Width1,940 mm (76 in)
Height1,300 mm (51 in)
Curb weight1,500 kilograms (3,300 lb)RelatedBMW i3DesignerMario Majdandzič (Vision EfficientDynamics)
Benoit Jacob (Production i8)

 

For the first 19 miles, the BMW i8 Spyder can run on electricity alone; after that, the gasoline engine kicks on and both feeds power to the rear wheels and juices the battery pack. Recharge time is said to be two hours on a 240-volt European power outlet. Overall weight won’t be too different between the coupe and convertible i8s—the rigid passenger compartment shouldn’t need any strengthening—and so BMW claims both cars will do the run to 60 in five seconds or less.

The i8 models will be built at BMW’s Leipzig plant; we expect this BMW i8 Spyder to arrive in 2015, or roughly the same time as the coupe.

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Richard Kim (2011 BMW i8 Concept)

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Aggregate Rating
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Brand Name
BMW i8 Spyder rival
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BMW i8 Spyder rival with a new 2013 Mustang 5.0 engine for US$23,000.
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