The BMW i8 is an all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid that will be the halo product for the German automaker’s green-themed “i” sub-brand when it goes on sale in 2014. We’ve seen this dramatic coupe at various auto shows, first at Frankfurt in 2009 and now, most recently, at the 2012 New York Auto Show. The BMW i8 concept has evolved over the years, but still sports many design elements that have little chance at production. These illustrations, provided by a former senior designer at BMW DesignworksUSA, provide the clearest and most vivid look at what the street-legal i8 could look like in two years’ time.
Concept Car Wrapping
These images take away some features still seen on the concept, such as gullwing doors comprised of glass panels on their upper and lower surfaces. This rendering of the i8 has more conventional points of entry, as the bottom half is no longer a transparent pane of glass. However, during the New York Auto Show, a BMW rep did confirm the production version of the i8 would retain the concept car’s upward opening gullwing-style doors. Score one for the BMW design team.
Unlike what we saw a few months ago on a working prototype—which was caught in winter testing—the side mirrors have migrated from the doors to the front fenders. The front fascia appears remarkably similar to the concept’s, including the aerodynamic-looking vent in the nose of the car. Thankfully, the elegant sweep of the C-pillar, which extends over the rear fenders and onto the trunk, where it doubles as a rear wing, is also present.
BMW has stated that lightweight materials, such as aluminum and carbon fiber, will constitute a large percentage of the i8’s structure. Moveable aerodynamic devices are also possible, though nothing has been confirmed—and none of these images provide definitive proof that they might be included.
High Performance Hybrid
Beneath the striking bodywork is an electric motor driving the front wheels, while a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine is coupled to the rears. The combined output of 354 horsepower is enough to hustle this 2+2 coupe from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, according to BMW’s calculations. Capable of running purely on electric power for short distance—estimated at 20 to 30 miles—the i8 should be capable of returning fuel economy of roughly 80 mpg.
Pricing has not been revealed, but we suspect the i8 Coupe will start somewhere around $150,000. A roadster variant has also been revealed, but BMW maintains it’s merely a design study—a working convertible top was not factored into the initial concept.