The buzz around the 2014 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid has been building for some time, and today, at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW has revealed their newest sports car’s price tag. Buyers will pay $136,625, including destination fees and taxes, to get behind the wheel of a 2014 BMW i8 when it hits the U.S. market in spring 2014.
The 2014 BMW i8 is the second model in the German automaker’s new “i” sub-brand, closely following the all-electric i3 city car. With its underlying structure and crash protection made from aluminum and its bodywork from carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRP), the BMW i8 weighs just 3285 pounds despite its complicated plug-in hybrid powertrain.
A turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-three engine develops 170 hp and drives the rear wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission, while a separate 131-hp electric motor generator draws power from a lithium-ion battery pack and feeds the front wheels through a two-speed transmission. Together, the power sources yield a claimed 0-to-62-mph time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. Using electricity alone, the BMW i8 can drive for about 22 miles at up to 75 mph. With the gas engine and motor working in tandem as a hybrid, BMW expects fuel economy equivalent to 94 mpg.
The BMW i8 has made it to production with much of the futuristic coupe styling first seen two years ago, yet engineers managed to keep the body ultra slippery with a drag coefficient of just 0.26. Electric-blue trim accents the grille, rocker panels, and rear fascia, and the doors open upward to reveal a modernist two-plus-two cabin. The interior is similar to that of most new BMWs, but it includes novel touches like a full-LCD instrument cluster. The navigation system, displayed on a familiar 8.8-inch screen atop the dashboard, decides when to use the electric motor, gas engine, or both depending on the particulars of the chosen route. Full-LED headlights are standard; options include a backup camera, forward collision warning, the surround-view 360-degree camera, and a head-up display.
BMW says the 5-kWh lithium-ion battery can be fully recharged from a standard 110-volt outlet in less than four hours or from a high-speed charger in just 90 minutes. A smartphone app lets owners monitor the car’s charging process or schedule charging for certain times — such as when electricity is cheaper. The cabin can also be heated or cooled while the car is charging so that less energy is wasted on the climate control once underway.
With the i8, BMW has demonstrated a totally new path for future sports cars. The BMW i8 is at once hugely efficient and hugely fast, luxurious and lightweight, stylish and aerodynamically sound. The only remaining question is how many customers will be willing to shell out $136,625 when it goes on sale in the spring.