The BMW i3 has been officially displayed at Frankfurt motor show today. BMW will give its new range of i-cars broad appeal with the launch of the cheaper and more practical BMW i3, which Munich insiders claim will be comparable in price to more powerful versions of today’s 1-series.
Set to launch in 2013, the BMW i8’s urban-orientated sister car will be offered with standard plug-in electric or optional range extender-assisted, electric-drive powertrains.
The i3, previously known as Megacity Vehicle, eschews the traditional low-slung lines of contemporary BMW small cars for a distinctly more upright stance aimed at providing the i3’s four adult occupants with excellent all-round visibility. There is a nominal 200 litres of luggage space behind the rear seats.
As with the i8, the i3 is based around a light but highly resilient CFRP (carbonfibre reinforced plastic) body structure and rides on a predominantly aluminium chassis. BMW claims the production version will weigh 1270kg – some 265kg above the more conventionally constructed Mini One.
At 3845mm in length, 2011mm in width and 1537mm in height, the five-door i3 is 120mm longer, 326mm wider and 132mm higher than the Mini One. It rides on a platform boasting a 105mm longer wheelbase at 2570mm and wider tracks. Therefore the i3 has a larger footprint than its Mini stablemate, yet it’s still smaller than any existing BMW model.
BMW claims the i3 boasts a “comparatively small turning circle” and keenly describes its handling as being “agile at typical city speeds”, both in keeping with its urban driving brief.
By mounting the new car’s liquid-cooled battery - a lithium-ion unit of unspecified weight and capacity - within the central section of the floor, BMW claims the i3’s centre of gravity is lower than all current 1-series models.