Thursday, September 15, 2011

BMW i3 and i8 make Frankfurt debut

BMW i3 and i8 make Frankfurt debut

BMW presented a pair of wild-looking electric cars – the i3 urban runabout and the i8 sports coupe, as well as its new 1-Series five-door that would undoubtedly be a smash hit in Canada if priced right to compete in the growing luxury compact class.

BMW’s second generation 1 Series will be a 2012 model in Europe and continue to be the only rear-wheel-drive model in the class. A Sport line and Urban line will appeal to younger buyers looking for BMW’s premium materials and feel, but the five-door design makes it plenty functional for any age buyer.

All engines in the 1 Series are now turbocharged with BMW’s TwinPower turbo – a single dual vane turbo system that reduces lag. A slate of engine choices that would make fuel-conscious Canadians drool include two diesels, one with 184 horsepower in the 120d, and the other with 143 horsepower in the 118d. Two gasoline versions are available, a 170 hp four cylinder in the 118i, and 136 hp in the 116i. For this country, the 120d and 118i seem a natural fit. Call your BMW dealer and demand these cars.
More interesting, if a little far away yet, are BMW’s eDrive concepts, the i8 and i3.

The i8 uses an electric drivetrain and three-cylinder TwinPower turbo gasoline engine to pull zero to 100 km/h times under five seconds, yet uses no more than 3.0L/100km. Thank the i8’s mostly carbon fibre and aluminum shell and aerodynamics for that, but also the sheer torque from the front-mounted electric motor, which drives front wheels. The gas engine drives the rear wheels for a perfect 50/50 weigh distribution, but also allowing all-wheel drive when both engines are working.

The i3, meanwhile, is meant for urban commutes, using a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that spans the undercarriage, supplying up to 170 horsepower to an electric motor mounted over the rear axle to allow for rear-wheel drive. The range is 160 kms, BMW says, yet it can reach 150 km/h and handle zero to 100 km/h in under eight seconds.

Either way, both of these cars appear as revolutionary as they are visionary. Let’s hope they’re built soon.

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