Private Preview 2014: Eighth Wonder

  • The i8, which is scheduled to arrive in U.S. showrooms this spring, is capable of achieving 94 mpg. It also can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
  • The forthcoming i8, a 2+2 sports car, impresses with its looks alone.
<< Back to Robb Report, January 2014
  • 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

From Around the Web...
Indian Roadmaster Classic
Vintage design elements distinguish the Roadmaster Classic, a variant of the acclaimed Roadmaster…
Faraday Future Dragon Racing competes in Formula E.
The premier publishing brand brings added voltage to the hard-charging electric-vehicle race team…
A Woodill Wildfire from the 1954 film Johnny Dark with Tony Curtis.
From McQueen’s racer in Le Mans to Presley’s Corvette in Clambake, these machines made movie magic…
The Chevrolet Camaro 1LE performance package makes the legendary muscle car more agile on the...
Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic
Shorter than the SVAutobiography, the new SUV handles better and is just as refined…
Copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. Photo by Mathieu Heurtault.
Two Aston Martin coupes and a roadster from Lancia are among the favorites to fall under the hammer…
Cadillac takes the top two spots; the Porsche 911 RSR and Mercedes-AMG GT3 earn podium places…
The exhibition space’s lavish clubhouse stands where Carroll Shelby’s personal apartment had been…
See the contemporary car that McKeel Hagerty believes will soon become a seven-figure collectible…
Cadillacs place first and second in Prototype class, while eight Huracáns compete in the GTD class…