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BMW’s i8 Concept, an innovative and sporty plug-in hybrid, which is also an integral model in the company’s new i sub-brand, is coming to South Africa! It is one of two electrically-assisted vehicles, along with the i3 Concept, to be presented by the world’s best-selling luxury car brand this year.
Visitors to the 2011 Johannesburg International Motor Show will be able to see this beauty up close on BMW’s stand at the Expo Centre, Nasrec, from October 6-16.
Unlike the Vision concept, which utilises a diesel engine and an electric motor, the i8 Concept is powered by a turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor. The 1.5-litre three-cylinder forced-induction petrol engine produces an astonishing 164kW and 300Nm of torque, and is ably assisted by a 96kW/250Nm electric motor, which draws power from a lithium-ion battery positioned between the front and rear axles.
With a combined maximum power output of 260kW and 550Nm, the i8 Concept is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds (80-120km/h in 4.0 seconds) and will go on to an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.
Besides being a high performance car, it can also be driven in fully electric zero-emissions mode for up to 35 km from a standard power socket takes approximately 105 minutes. Even more impressive is the i8 Concept’s fuel consumption of 2,7 l/100km in the combined European driving cycle.
Despite its frugality, the i8 promises a very sporty drive – by positioning the petrol engine over the rear axle and the electric motor over the front axle, with the battery positioned between the two – the i8 boasts perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity. But it’s not all about high-performance, dynamic driving – the 2+2 i8 is versatile too, and can be driven in silent, front-wheel drive electric form, rear-wheel drive or even in all-wheel drive mode, depending on your requirement.
The exterior features BMW’s new i design language, with the body incorporating carbon fibre-reinforced plastic in white, high-gloss black and stream blue, while vast expanses of glass make up the roof section.
Aerodynamics was a major influence in the overall construction, which has been optimised to cut through the air as efficiently as possible. The overlapping, layered surfaces contribute to this, and give the i8 Concept a dynamic, three-dimensional appearance.
This flowing design continues inside the cabin, with the central screen and console directed towards the driver, while a smaller instrument panel sits behind the steering wheel to provide further information. Interior surfaces are a combination of leather, metals and high-gloss piano black plastics.
The i8 concept also introduces Last Mile Navigation and Intermodal Route Planning. The former sends navigation information to your Smartphone to help you locate your final destination on foot, while the latter analyses public transport options to complete the journey. The navigation system also calculates the best way to manage energy consumption for the trip to ensure that it operates at peak performance and optimal efficiency when required.
A production version of the BMW i8 Concept is expected to go on sale in 2014.