When BMW revealed the i8 Spider concept, most reviewers said that it had a jaw-dropping design and great load of high-tech stuff that should be transformed into reality as soon as possible. However, several years have passed, but the automaker did not give any details about any plans to build this model, even though it was very well-received. This March brought good news, as one of the BMW executives has confirmed the model and outlined some of the future plans for the next few years.
We cannot really say that BMW’s intentions to build i8 in standard and Spider version come as a surprise because we have already seen two concept models that can help us to speculate over the model’s features and design. In fact, the latest concept was introduced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show and was called iFuture Interaction Concept. The main focus was given to the technologies featured in the vehicle, so we can competently say that i8 will carry an impressive load of high-tech. Let’s see what else could be interesting in this concept.
First and foremost, the concept that will be manufactured is called Spider, and it has the basic structure of i8 coupe introduced by BMW several years ago. Many reviewers have pointed that the Bavarian automaker followed the same principle as many brands before: “first release a coupe version, then make a convertible.” What BMW is doing is exactly the same because the i8 Spider is essentially based on a previous coupe version but does not have a fixed roof. Furthermore, the Spider looks more production ready vehicle than a concept, which is good news because it means that it will be coming into production pretty soon.
The basic construction of both coupe and convertible is the same. The German automaker calls this carbon-fiber passenger cell “Life Module” and connects it with another part, called “Drive Module.” Naturally, the first respective module is intended for driver and passenger and the second contains three important elements: electric motor designed for propulsion of the vehicle, lithium-ion battery pack for energy storage, and a three-cylinder gasoline engine for a significant extension of driving range and additional power.
The engine used in the i8 Concept Spider is the same with the coupe version, so let’s stop here and refresh our memory about the powertrain. It is the 1.5-liter three-cylinder unit which powered the rear wheels and was able to generate up to 220 horsepower. The platform of the Spider provided the rear placement of the gas engine and the front placement of the electric motor, which, by the way, generated up to 129 horsepower. According to BMW, the combined output of the two units was 349 horsepower and 406 lb-ft, (enough to accelerate the i8 from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds) and the model could direct the power to the front, rear, and all four wheels.
At this point, it is necessary to remember that the i8 models will not get a more powerful M version added to many other BMW line-ups, so we should not be surprised if the Spider comes with the much more powerful drivetrain. These are currently only speculations, but we hope to see it offered with a lot more power.
The combination of two engines is supposed to work in a usual gas-electric mode: the first twenty miles the Spider runs on the power provided solely by the electric motor and then switches to the gas unit. In turn, it powers the rear and front wheels and even provides the rejuvenation for the battery pack, which can be fully recharged in less than 2 hours on a standard 240-volt European power outlet. When we take a look at the powertrain features, we can agree that it’s nothing new and that we already see more than a decent number of vehicles with a hybrid powertrain. What makes this car special is the amount of power and the looks it brings.
Now, let’s continue to the technology features included in the Spider. Knowing BMW, we know that this should be very interesting. According to the manufacturer, most of the high-tech stuff contained in the vehicle relies on the cloud services and integrates with the Airtouch. It is an innovative gesture control functionality developed solely by BMW, which is amazing for controlling almost everything inside the Spider. To provide full control, the designers have placed three sets of sensors to control it in the cabin across its length, so it would be easier for the driver and the passenger to manage the system and have individual touch points.
BMW claims that the system anticipates the driver’s selection from a gesturing position and the selection is made from the soft button on the left of the steering wheel. As for the passenger, it will be possible to make selections from an illuminated point located to the right of their seat. By the way, the seats in the Spider are now completed in a comfortable lounge style but still supportive enough.
The spider will feature an autonomous drive mode, which resulted in a few changes to the interior when compared to what previous BMW models offered. The steering wheel is beautifully illuminated to inform the driver when the autonomous drive mode is on and when manual steering is required. Next, the size of the steering wheel is reduced to seven inches to prevent distractions of the driver. It would be very easy to get distracted because the new touch screen display shows beautiful sharp graphics and provides a wide variety of functions. These features are controlled through the system called BMW Connected, which acts a little bit like a personal assistant. On the recent video released by the manufacturer, the system was able to remind the driver to leave the house for appointments and offer him a number of options for the fastest route to the desired destination.
What we thought about BMW i8 Spyder Concept
BMW i8 Concept Spider represents the next generation of cars that have driver interact with the system in a completely new way. To maximize the driving pleasure, the manufacturer gave the driver a personal assistant, autonomous driving mode, gesture control, and lots of comfort features. Although Spider cannot be considered as a truly self-driving car, it sure it a breakthrough in the auto industry, because it shows what the cars of the future will be able to do. Unfortunately, BMW has not released the date of the official launch of the car; it may be revealed in just several months and before the end of this year. At this point, it is the closest time we have seen yet.