Barely a year after the unveiling of the BMW i8 Concept, BMW i unveiled the second variant of this innovative hybrid sports car. Like its Coupe sibling, the emotionally charged BMW i8 Concept Spyder combines intelligent lightweight design with the leading-edge drivetrain technology eDrive, while its open-top two-seater construction delivers an even more intense driving experience.
This third BMW i model embodies the future of cutting-edge and emotionally appealing mobility concepts. Its sporting design headlines the qualities of an open-top two-seater blending lightness, dynamic capability and efficiency with a very special aesthetic allure.
The combination of intelligent lightweight design and state-of-the-art hybrid technology imbues the BMW i8 Concept Spyder with genuine sports car performance, yet its fuel consumption is no higher than you would expect from a small car.
Among the most eye-catching features of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder are the upward-swivelling, windowless doors and a range of purpose-oriented on-board equipment including electric kickboards stowed under a transparent tailgate. The sports car is based around the innovative LifeDrive architecture, itself underpinned by a lightweight modular construction and the use of high-quality high-tech materials. The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is a plug-in hybrid powered by an eDrive drivetrain combining a high-performance electric motor and petrol combustion engine.
Compared with the Coupe variant of the BMW i8 Concept, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder has a slightly shorter wheelbase and overall length. With its compact dimensions and distinctive exterior paintwork, the sports car exudes a feeling of dynamism before it so much as turns a wheel, while striking features of its design include upward-swivelling, windowless doors and a transparent glass panel at the rear. Underneath this cover two electric kickboards are stowed, providing a visual showcase for the fun factor in mobility and adding another layer to the car's recreational appeal.
Inside, a revised material and colour concept provides an extra dose of sportiness. Like the Coupe, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder with eDrive is a high-performance plug-in hybrid, and it fuses the specific advantages of an electric motor and combustion engine to optimum effect. Exceptional efficiency and dynamic capability are the upshot.
Modular LifeDrive Architecture
Like the Coupe, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder is also built around the innovative LifeDrive architecture, a fusion of independent functional units. For example, the carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) Life module gives the car an extremely lightweight passenger cell, while the Drive modules - made primarily from aluminium components - bring together all the car's operational driving functions, such as the powertrain, chassis and safety structure. Impressively extensive use of high-tech materials allows this innovative concept to chart new territory in terms of weight minimisation, structural rigidity and crash safety. This is good news not only for the car's dynamic performance, but also for its range and fuel economy. Intelligent lightweight design, encompassing the use of innovative materials, has allowed the unavoidable additional weight of the high-output hybrid drivetrain to be cancelled out in full. Plus, the LifeDrive architecture has been carefully adapted to the sports car character of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder. The front and rear axle modules are connected by an "energy tunnel", which houses the hybrid battery. This allows the engineers to give the car a low centre of gravity and ideal balance.
The distinctive two-way split of the LifeDrive concept is also reflected in the car's design, which renders the basic elements of the body clearly distinguishable. Expressive surfaces and precise lines create a harmonious transition from one module into another. This overlap and interlocking of surfaces and lines - "layering" in BMW i speak - is displayed both on the body and in the interior of the new car.
Latest Interpretation of the BMW i Design Language
The BMW i8 Concept Spyder's emotion-led design vividly spotlights the car's qualities, with lightness, dynamic capability and efficiency highlighted to particularly prominent effect. For example, the two-seater embodies the perfect synthesis of technology and aesthetic appeal, and exudes unbridled driving pleasure even when stationary. Key to creating this impression of sporty dynamics are large body panels, a hunkered-down stance and numerous aerodynamic elements such as contact surfaces, spoiler lips, AirCurtains and aeroflaps. These features substantially reduce the hybrid car's Cd and enhance both efficiency and range.
Dynamic Front End
The front end offers a particularly revealing window into the open-top two-seater's dynamic talent. One defining element is the headlights with pioneering laser light technology, which follow the hallmark BMW i U-shaped design template. A semi-transparent "V" opens out from the front end of the flat bonnet towards the windscreen and beckons the eye to the electric motor below. A spoiler lip positioned on the windscreen frame guides the airflow over the heads of the passengers. And for journeys when the weather cannot quite be trusted, the planned two-section folding roof might well come in handy.
Short front and rear overhangs and a low-slung silhouette define the side view of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder and underline its athletic character. Alluring lines and forms generate a strong forward-surging stance even before the car powers off the line. The doors, which open by pivoting forwards around the A-pillar axis, further enhance the BMW i8 Concept Spyder's emotional impact. Below the doors, the side skirts create a powerful wedge shape which opens out towards the rear. At the same time, the open-top two-seater cuts a light and flowing figure and appears as if carved from a single mould.
Like the front end, the rear also sits low to the road. Its headline feature is a transparent cover revealing the two folded electric kickboards accommodated below. Adopting the hallmarks of BMW i design, the kickboards are perfect for relaxed cruising along promenades and paths or around city squares. There can be few more attractive advertisements for individual mobility. A visually imposing rear diffuser, three-dimensional air outlets and the U-shaped rear lights give the BMW i8 Concept Spyder an extremely wide appearance and emphasise its sporting credentials.
Functional Aesthetics: Layering in the Interior
The interior of the BMW i8 Concept Spyder is defined by three levels showcasing its various functions. As with the car's body, the interlocking of surfaces and lines is also one of the stand-out features of the interior design. The outer layer frames the supporting structure, while the inner "comfort" layer comprises seat surfaces and stowage compartments. The cockpit fills the third "technical" layer, bringing together the instrument panel, steering column and steering wheel with the instrument cluster, central information display and control elements. The prominent driver focus of the cockpit and the low seating position, which adds further depth to the open-top two-seater's credibility, are particularly eye-catching. All the controls are in just the right position and, like the other functional components of the interior, designed to further enliven the driving experience. An 8.8-inch screen displays all the relevant driving information in three-dimensional, high-resolution quality.
The colour and materials concept also provides some stand-out touches. The Spyder's interior is defined by a mixture of plastic, carbon and leather, with the off-white of the outer layer and the bold orange tone of the naturally tanned leather generating a sporting atmosphere rich in contrast. The cockpit and centre console also show slight modifications over the Coupe. The overall effect of the interior is one of quality, purity and emotional appeal.
Connectivity: The Perfect Link Between Mobile Living Environments
BMW i sums up the idea of mobility geared to the demands of the future and the needs of its customers. To this end, BMW i drivers will have a new generation of driver assistance systems at their disposal which significantly enhance both safety and comfort. For example, the camera-based proactive Collision Warning system, Parking Assistant and Traffic Jam Assistant ensure all on board can enjoy a safe and relaxed journey.
In addition, BMW i is developing an array of innovative connectivity functions which provide a seamless link between its models and their owners' lives outside the car. Remote functions accessed via a smartphone help users to locate their car in large car parks (CarFinder), show nearby charging stations, allow the battery to be charged at pre-set times and inform drivers on the current status of their vehicle. Plus, the battery and interior can be brought up to peak operating temperature before the driver sets off on a journey. The Last Mile Navigation function, meanwhile, assists drivers after they have parked their car, with route instructions transferred directly onto their smartphone directing them along the last leg of their journey on foot - to a museum or restaurant, for example. And the Intermodal Route Planning function effectively integrates the car into the local public transport network and provides information on current parking availability at the driver's destination.
Interface Design Aids Intelligent Mobility
Two large displays inside the BMW i8 Concept Spyder make up the interface between the car, its passengers and the outside world. Positioned alongside the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, the central information display flags up all relevant information and assists the driver in the use of connectivity applications. A third display shows the automatic climate control settings currently engaged. All the screens display their information in 3D, and the cutting-edge, visually appealing graphics are also impressively clear.
The instrument cluster displays important driving data using two variable-form ellipses. Positioned alongside the digital speedometer, the efficiency display allows drivers to view how much energy they are currently using - or recovering through the recuperation process. Added to which, the display also contains extra navigation details and information on the car's range when running purely on electric power, its range when powered by the combustion engine alone and its range using both power units in tandem. If the driver switches to energy-saving ECO PRO mode, the display turns blue in colour to signal the shift in functional emphasis, and the ellipses now also vary in form. By the same token, moving into SPORT mode treats the driver to an emotional orange hue. As well as the changes in colour, the displays also provide information tailored to the driving mode selected and to assisting the driver as effectively as possible.
Central Information Display
The central information display in the BMW i8 Concept Spyder makes a key contribution to intelligent mobility. It allows the driver to view the current status of the hybrid system, provides a platform for menu navigation and route guidance, and uses innovative connectivity functions to offer drivers a gateway into their lives outside the car. This ensures drivers remain up to speed at all times on how the combustion engine and electric motor are being used, while also being able to monitor the energy flow within the system.
Forward-thinking Analysis of the Driving Situation
The car's power electronics are linked up to intelligent navigation and traffic guidance systems to enable the hybrid drive system to work at maximum efficiency. In this way, information on route profile, speed limits and unavoidable traffic congestion are incorporated into the calculations of the energy management system so that the hybrid system's operating strategy can be adapted accordingly. For example, proactive charging of the hybrid battery allows the BMW i8 Concept Spyder to negotiate a traffic tailback on the road ahead using electric power alone - and therefore without producing any emissions. In addition, handy displays such as fuel consumption history allow interesting reflections on past journeys and help to optimise the driving style of the individual at the wheel.
Perfectly Prepared at All Times Thanks to Diary Synchronisation
Intelligent connectivity functions open the door to a host of other practical solutions when it comes to preparing the BMW i8 Concept Spyder for its daily workload. One example of this is automatic diary synchronisation with the driver's smartphone. The system registers upcoming appointments and, when plugged into a power socket, ensures that the battery is topped up overnight so that the car is ready for action with a fully charged battery the following morning.