Published August 29, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
BMW’s i8 Spyder plug-in hybrid concept is due to make its first U.S. appearance at the LA Auto show this fall.
Originally speculation had it that the car would bow at the NY auto show, but in combing the Internet for news, yesterday AutoGuide found a tweet from the LA Auto Show confirming its inaugural appearance late November-early December on the west coast, not east.
The outrageous Spyder is a premier example from BMW’s pending line of electrified i cars.
It is said to serve up 0-60 mph times of 4.9 seconds – not quite as quick as, say, a 4.4-second all-electric Tesla Model S sedan – but the i8 Spyder is a two-seater hybrid made by the Bavarian automaker proud of its heritage of “ultimate driving machines,” so this is not actually a head-to-head competitor to the California start-up EV maker.
Power for the i8 Spyder comes from a combination of a 170-horsepower electric motor driving the front wheels plus a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gas engine delivering 223 horsepower, 295-pound-feet torque to the rear wheels.
Its all-wheel-drive status further separates it from loose comparisons to the also high-performance Tesla, and actually, the Tesla to compare more closely to it is the one no longer being produced, the even quicker Roadster.
That car would have also stomped on the BMW's all-electric range of only around 20 miles – but again, BMW's gas-plus-electric attempt is a different approach to efficiency plus performance.
Essentially, BMW’s green sports car is said to be capable of greater than petrol car efficiency, but it is a balanced compromise between peak attainable efficiency that a pure EV might offer, with extra power and range-extending advantages a petrol engine has to offer.
Is such a concoction your cup of tea, and would your bank balance support its six figure expense? The hard top version of this car is slated to go for over 100,000 euros, and BMW has said it will sell all it makes of the limited-production cars, starting in the 2014 model year.
In any event, the i8 Spyder is a unique flavor of green BMW is yet testing, and demonstrating on the auto show circuit to drum up interest.
We expect it also to have dynamic handling characteristics with a high degree of engineered refinement. Just because BMW – along with other European marques – is making a show of going green, it would be wrong to suspect it will let pass a car that would disappoint discriminating expectations BMW customers have come to demand for its other high-line sporting cars.