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i8

i8 (Germany, 2013)

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Review


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BMW officially revealed the i8, its plug-in hybrid supercar, at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. The car combines cutting edge composite technology with a mostly carbon fiber reinforced plastic body, and BMW’s own electric motor and battery design. BMW has done whatever it can to keep weight low, and the i8 weighs just 1,490kg (3285lb).

BMW believes that the i8 is the future of sports cars. The production version is not much different from the previous concepts. The front is wide and low, and the BMW kidney grill has been given a similar stretched treatment. The grill is flanked by the headlights with LED running lights that echo the general shape of the grill. The hood is low and slopes downward with an air intake at the front to cool the batteries. 

In profile, the roof flows delicately from the windshield and down over the engine compartment. The doors open up and out in butterfly fashion. A line starts below the front portion of the door that becomes an air intake for the mid-mounted engine, and a line cuts up through the door and terminates at the taillights. 

At the rear, the exhausts are completely hidden, which gives the rear a clean, futuristic look. The taillights create one complete line across the rear and are contrasted by the blue trim on the rear diffuser. 

The i8 uses CFRP throughout the entire car. The passenger cell is entirely CFRP; the doors are a CFRP over aluminum; the instrument panel is made from CFRP and magnesium. The chassis itself is made from aluminum, and the partition between the passenger compartment and trunk is made from glass.

The i8 seats four in a pinch with two seats in the rear that are separated by a tunnel where the batteries are stored.

The i8’s powertrain consists of a 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine with 228hp (231ps) and 236lb-ft (320Nm) of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid motor provides 129hp (131ps) and 184lb-ft (250Nm) from a 5kWh liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery. It has a total system output of 357hp (362ps) and 420lb-ft (570Nm). The electric motor powers the front wheels via a two-speed transmission, while the engine supplies power to the rear wheels. It can reach 100km/h in 4.4 seconds and uses 2.5l/100km and emits 59g/km of CO2.

The i8 has a range of up to 35km (22 miles) on pure electric power at up to 120km/h  (75mph). The total range is over 500km (310 miles).

The chassis combines a front double-wishbone suspension and five-link rear suspension with electric power steering and standard dynamic dampers. It rides on 20in wheels with optional CFRP wheels.

The interior standard equipment includes BMW’s Professional Navigation system that tells drivers where charging stations are. It has a completely digital instrument display. Other standard tech features include park distance control, adaptive cruise control with braking, rain sensor, intelligent emergency call, high beam assistant, rear view camera, frontal camera with speed limit monitoring and collision warning with pedestrian recognition. An added Head-Up Display is optional.

BMW offers a Wallbox with the i8 that can be installed at the owners home for faster charging and ChargeNow card that allows for pre-paid charging at public chargers.



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Since its first steps on vehicle building, BMW has committed itself to advanced technology and constant improvement. The Germany-based pioneers were the experienced aviator Gustav Otto and the owner of Rapp Motorenwerke (an aircraft engine factory), Karl Rapp. These men combined efforts in order to start a real aircraft industry, placed in Munich, which would serve the German military during the First World War by providing them the airplanes. So, in 1913,...  more

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