BMW has confirmed it will turn its open-top i8 Spyder concept into a production variant of the petrol-electric hybrid supercar in 2015. The 94mpg, 155mph hybrid is expected to cost around £80,000.
Due to make its first public appearance at the Beijing Motor Show later this month, the i8 Spyder is the third pre-production version of the revolutionary 90mpg-plus, 155mph supercar.
According to BMW, the latest concept will give a clearer indication of how the production coupé will look: it’s scheduled to go on sale in 2014.
While perhaps the main difference is the replacement of the transparent sides of the previous concepts with solid doors, there are also a couple of other significant styling tweaks.
In a bid to cut aerodynamic drag, the kidney grille has been blanked off, while the ‘layered surfacing’ styling treatment has also evolved slightly.
As a result of its open-roof design, BMW has given its i8 Spyder a new, free-standing windscreen. The car also comes with conventional door glazing which integrates with fixed rear three-quarter side panels.
Prominent safety hoops — which the designers have faired-in by body panels at the rear of the cabin — deliver roll-over protection.
It’s also expected the i8 Spyder will have a removable panel — probably made from carbonfibre, though BMW has still to confirm this — in the roof.
There’s a flat, transparent engine cover in place of the sloping coupé roofline at the rear, which doubles as the luggage cover.
BMW has based the Spyder — as it has done with all its future ‘i’ sub-brands models — around a lightweight carbonfibre-reinforced plastic structure. The body panels are clothed in a similar material.
At 4480mm long, 1922mm wide and 1208mm tall, the two-seater i8 Spyder is 130mm shorter, 142mm wider and 187mm lower than a 335i cabriolet.
As you would expect, it also uses the same plug-in petrol-electric hybrid system used by the i8 coupé.
Mid/rear-mounted, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine delivers up to 220bhp to the rear wheels. The same engine will be offered in future Minis and a new front-wheel-drive entry-level BMW.
In the i8 Spyder, the 1.5-litre petrol engine is mated to a front-mounted 129bhp electric motor driving the front wheels via a fixed-ratio gearbox.
Capable of operating on either petrol or electric, or a combination of the two, the i8 powertrain can also deliver front, rear or four-wheel drive. Range-extending technology recharges the battery on the move.
When combined, the petrol and electric motors deliver 349bhp and 405lb/ft of torque and will propel the i8 Spyder from 0-62mph in 5.0sec, and on to a ‘restricted’ top speed of 155mph.
As for fuel consumption, BMW states the i8 will be capable of 94mpg and will have an an all-electric range of up to 19 miles.