Car Culture

BMW takes the top off the i8 hybrid concept

BMW will introduce a two-seater topless version of the i8 at the Beijing motor show later this month.

While most auto manufacturers are focusing their attention on the news and new models being revealed at the New York International Auto Show this week, BMW is setting its sights on the Beijing motor show, where it will debut the latest addition to the i family of vehicles.

The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is a topless two-seater version of the i8 coupe, and will make its first appearance at the Beijing motor show later this month. Slightly shorter than its 2+2 sibling, the Concept Spyder makes generous use of the carbon fiber reinforced plastic used in the LifeDrive architecture, features windowless doors that swivel up and a transparent tailgate. The interior is decked out in a mixture of plastic, carbon, and leather, and features an 8.8-inch high-definition screen that displays driving information in 3D.

Powered by a combined 354-horsepower eDrive power train (131-horsepower electric motor on the front axle and a 223-horsepower turbocharged three-cylinder engine in the rear), the i8 Concept Spyder achieves a 0-60 mph time of under 5 seconds and tops out at an electronically controlled 155 mph. And yet, the roadster sips fuel to the rate of up to 94 mpg in the European test cycle.

BMW introduced thei8 and i3 electric and plug-in car conceptslast year, and the i8 Concept Spyder will keep the sub-brand in the public eye until the plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles enter production some time in 2013. It's also a way for BMW to show off its lightweight and modular LifeDrive architecture by quickly developing a new model using the same powertrain and materials.