BMW's green sports car goes topless

By IOL Motoring staff Time of article published Apr 2, 2012

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As BMW's eco-pedantic 'i' sub-brand nears reality, the company has taken the wraps off a topless version of its i8 hybrid sports car concept.

Eye-catching in every sense of the word, the i8 Concept Spyder has upward-swivelling, windowless doors, laser headlights and a transparent tailgate through which its electric kickboards are proudly exposed.

The Spyder is shorter than the i8 2+2-seat tin top that's set to go on sale next year and only allows seating for two. While the concept itself has no roof, BMW says it's working on a two-section folding roof for this vehicle - this hinting that the open-top is also set for production.

Like the i8 tin-top, the Spyder is a plug-in hybrid that claims to combine the performance of a sports car with the fuel economy of a small hatch.

To achieve this, a 96kW electric motor on the front axle works together with a 164kW three-cylinder turbopetrol engine (powering the rear wheels) to allow a total system output of 260kW, while maximum torque amounts to a meaty 550Nm. According to BMW, the i8 Spyder will screech from standstill to 100km/h in just five seconds and on to a top speed of 250km/h.

The electric motor, which can be charged from a domestic power socket in under two hours, allows the car to travel up to 30km on electric power alone before asking the petrol motor for some help. On the standard EU combined cycle, the i8 achieves fuel consumption of just three litres per 100km.

Designed for control as much as it was for performance, the car's drive system can send power to the front, rear or all four wheels at the same time.

Despite the heavy batteries, the i8 Spyder weighs just 1630kg, thanks to its carbon-fibre-reinforced-plastic passenger cell and drive modules that are made mainly from aluminium.

Inside its three-layered cabin (clad in a mixture of carbon, leather and plastic), the Spyder is further distinguished from the tin-top by a new material and colour theme featuring off-white and bold orange.

Just like the car's exterior, the interior features interlocking surfaces and lines, with the outer layer framing the support structure and the inner 'comfort' layer comprising the seat surfaces and stowage compartments.

The third tier, which BMW calls the 'technical' layer, brings together the instrument panel, steering column and steering wheel. The driver is fed information via a 22.4cm high-res, 3D screen.

As you'd expect, BMW is working on a huge range of connectivity features for this car, gizmos that will tell you if there's a traffic jam ahead or where the nearest charging station is. A smart navigation system will even guide you through the last part of your journey on foot via your smartphone and help you find your car in a crowded parking lot.

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