Over the weekend BMW released the first details and images for its
i8 Concept Spyder
, the first convertible version of the string of previously revealed i8 coupes
and a somewhat more production-looking version too.
BMW has already confirmed that its i8 supercar, an advanced plug-in hybrid that promises 0-60 mph acceleration of less than five seconds and 78 mpg combined fuel economy, will enter production in 2013
ahead of a sales launch early in the following year.
However, there’s been no mention of a convertible version until now.
The reveal of the i8 Concept Spyder confirms BMW is at least toying with the idea, but a report from Autocar
goes further and claims that an i8 Spyder will enter production in 2015. The information was revealed by insider sources that also said the production i8 Spyder will likely feature removable roof panels, most likely constructed from carbon fiber.
Key differences between the i8 Spyder and previously shown i8 coupes are the non-transparent doors, which are thought to be more like the production units, as well as a transparent engine cover and rollover safety bars located behind the seats.
Otherwise, the i8 coupe and i8 Spyder are much the same, with both featuring a plug-in hybrid drivetrain comprised of a turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine matched to an electric motor. The engine is used to drive the rear wheels while the electric motor powers the front pair, though both power sources can work together to form an all-wheel drive setup. Running down the center of the floor is an "energy tunnel" that houses the high-voltage lithium-ion battery.
Peak output of the combined system should be close to 400 horsepower, which may seem low compared to some of its intended rivals but should offer strong performance thanks to the i8’s expected 3,200-pound curb weight.
The BMW i8 Concept Spyder will be revealed to a public audience for the first time at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show
later in the month.