facebook twitter pinterest instagram You Tube

Private Preview 2014: Eighth Wonder

Gary Witzenburg

Just as I follows H in the alphabet, BMW’s i cars are the company’s alternative-fuel successors to the H car, the short-lived Hydrogen 7 that was introduced in 2007. Given that the initial i cars, at least, will be powered by electricity or a combination of gas and electricity, which generally and perhaps accurately are perceived as more benign than hydrogen, the new models should enjoy greater success than the Hydrogen 7 did. 

The first of BMW’s i cars, the i3, is easier on the environment than it is on the eyes. The boxy little five-door, four-seat electric vehicle appears to have been designed with maximum mileage in mind and aesthetics as an afterthought. But the forthcoming i8, a 2+2 sports car, impresses with its looks alone. That it is a plug-in hybrid capable of achieving 94 mpg (according to European ratings) is just a bonus.

The i8, which evolved from the Vision EfficientDynamics concept of 2009, is scheduled to arrive in U.S. showrooms this spring, with a starting price of $135,700. Not surprisingly, the production i8 has relinquished the concept car’s glass doors and laser headlights, but it has retained the scissor doors, the hood scoop, the blue highlights on the grille and beneath the doors, and the rear spoilers.

These design flourishes accurately indicate that the i8, while remarkably fuel efficient, is a high-performance vehicle. It may not beat fellow hybrids LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 off the blocks, but the i8 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a reported 4.4 seconds. The car is equipped with an all-new 231 hp 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, which powers the rear wheels through a 6-speed automatic gearbox, and a 131 hp electric motor, which drives the front wheels through a two-stage automatic transmission. This propulsion system produces a total of 362 hp and 420 ft lbs of torque.

BMW, www.bmwusa.com

Read Next Article >>
For the most grandiose examples of automotive peacockery, a black paint job simply won’t suffice…
Though the car can reach 78 mph under electric power, it can go much, much faster than that using...
Photo by Olivier Staub
Love it or hate it, the new Spyder is perhaps the most fun you can have on three wheels…
The carmaker’s more modest models are not as far a cry from its higher-end vehicles as one might...
Photo by Saleen
The highly modified Foursixteen boasts improved performance and a new look…
Photo by Drew Phillips
With a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.9 second and a top speed beyond 200 mph, the new roadster will...
Photo by Dejan Sokolovski
The S60 Polestar and V60 Polestar were put through their paces by a professional racecar driver…
The upgraded iteration of Bentley’s flagship now carries the carmaker’s most powerful V-8 engine…
Seemingly minor power boosts lend the super-looking models some supercar performance…
918 Spyder Pure. Energy. Some stories are told in just 6 minutes and 57 seconds. For this story,...