BMW i3 Concept Coupe
At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show BMW has revealed the i3 Concept Coupe, a three-door version of the i3 Concept that marks another step towards the launch of the BMW i electric vehicles.
The three-door model adopts the same design idiom created for the BMW i sub-brand, aimed at conveying a sense of dynamism and driving pleasure.
The transparent surfaces of the side doors have been replaced by more conventional panels, which underlines the production-ready nature of the concept as well as its aerodynamic properties.
|Comparison between the i3 Concept Coupe (left) and the i3 Concept|
Like the BMW i3 Concept, the Coupe is powered by an electric motor delivering a maximum output of 125 kW/170 hp and peak torque of 250 Newton metres (184 lb-ft), and coupled with a single-speed transmission driving the rear wheels.
The unit is fed by lithium-ion storage cells under the floor. Positioning the battery units here has the effect of lowering the centre of gravity considerably, which further adds to the vehicle’s sensationally agile handling.
The LifeDrive architecture translates into a horizontally split construction consisting of two self-contained elements.
The passenger cell forms the core of the Life module, which is built from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).
The drive system, chassis and energy storage unit, along with the structural and crash functions are incorporated into the Drive module that is made chiefly of aluminum.
Below we report selected details on the design from the official BMW’s release.
The BMW i3 Concept Coupe measures 3,964 millimeters in length, 1,768 in width and 1,555 in height. Compared with the BMW i3 Concept, the i3 Concept Coupe has a broader, lower-slung look that serves to highlight its agile nature at first glance. The wheelbase remains unchanged from that of the standard BMW i3 at 2,570 millimeters.
The exterior surfaces and color scheme are structured in such a way as to visualize the basic construction defined by the LifeDrive architecture.
The principle of overlapping levels known as “layering” serves to symbolize the interaction between the construction and design elements of the Life and Drive modules, as well as providing the basis for a transparency in the vehicle design that reinforces the concept’s sustainability.
For instance, the structure of the carbon-fibre material employed in the Life module can be clearly seen in the entrance area and the roof pillars when the door is opened. It is here, as the two-dimensional CFRP laminate typically used for load-bearing elements comes into view, that the material’s composition becomes particularly apparent.
The bodywork panels around the wheel arches, doors and rear sidewalls are painted in Solar Orange metallic, a warm shade bursting with energy that was created specifically for this concept.
It forms an electrifying contrast with the high-gloss black finish on the hood, roof and boot lid, as well as with the body’s black lower edge.
The front apron includes black embedded elements designed to create an air curtain effect that carefully directs the airflow in the vicinity of the wheel arches.
The rear apron’s lower section incorporates a diffuser component to optimize flow conditions towards the rear of the vehicle’s underside.
The license plate holder features a narrow border in Solar Orange, while the U-shaped rear light clusters are integrated into the rear window, just as they are on the BMW i3 Concept.
Contrasting touches of Frozen Grey matt for the BMW kidney grille and the sill lines along the sides are specific to this model and add to its visual appearance. The brand emblems in Stream Blue at the front and rear and on the wheel hubs are characteristic BMW i features.
A steeply raked windscreen that extends a long way forward and a roof line that descends gently into the vehicle’s tail are the defining features of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe silhouette.
The long doors with frameless windows also have a typical coupe feel to them. The specific way in which a CFRP passenger cell is constructed means there is no need for a B-pillar. Not only does this facilitate access to the rear seats, it gives extra impact to the dynamic flow of lines visible in the window styling.
The BMW i3 Concept Coupe includes a fresh interpretation of the brand’s hallmark “stream flow” design for the side window contours between the doors and the C-pillars.
As a result of the enclosed body concept around the doors and the rear sidewalls, the ratio between the body’s basic structure and the window area is clearly marked by the shoulder line. The latest version of the window outline tapers sharply towards the rear, once again putting clear emphasis on the vehicle’s excellent aerodynamic properties.
The upper and lower edges are spaced particularly far apart on the BMW i3 Concept Coupe, producing an enlarged window area at the rear. This means that, in contrast to conventional coupes, passengers in the rear compartment are able to enjoy a remarkable sense of spaciousness and feel far more involved in the driving experience.
The dynamic view of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe in profile is completed by the gently rising swage line on a level with the door openers, as well as a striking character line that produces an intriguing interplay between light and shade just above the side sills.
The exterior mirrors also sport a design that’s specific to this model, with black mirror bases and caps in Solar Orange metallic that pick up on the body’s overall colour scheme.
The sporty character is further underlined by the 20-inch light-alloy wheels with double-spoke design. They are shod with comparatively narrow, reduced rolling-resistance tires measuring 155/60 R20 at the front and 175/55 R20 at the rear.
All in all, the even more purist interpretation of the design idiom compared to the BMW i3 Concept, coupled with the more horizontal focus of the exterior’s styling, highlights the car’s enhanced aerodynamic properties.
The interior of the BMW i3 Concept Coupe illustrates how the cockpit design has evolved as it is readied for series production, while at the same time creating an individual ambience that fits in with the concept of a sporty three-door car.
The layering structure employed for the exterior underpins the arrangement of the function elements and controls, with a mixture of leather, wood, wool and other renewable raw materials.
The freestanding steering column’s two-part design is accentuated by the colour scheme. All supporting elements are finished in a light grey colour, whereas the steering wheel’s outer grip areas and all controls are coloured black.
Besides the display that acts as the instrument cluster and the control stalks for the direction indicators and windscreen wipers, the steering column also incorporated the electronic gearshift lever and the Start-Stop button.
Above the steering column and behind the instrument cluster, there is a horizontally mounted wooden panel that spans the full width of the interior in a dynamic sweep.
Sourced from certified sustainably managed European forests and treated using natural materials, the light eucalyptus wood adds a touch of class, and is made all the more noticeable by the contrast with the black, three dimensionally shaped controls.
The control panels on either side of the steering column are bordered by brushed aluminium accent strips. The sweeping design of the eucalyptus wood panel is echoed by the contour of the armrests in the doors, meaning that the driver and front passenger are encircled by a series of harmoniously styled surfaces.
At the cockpit’s centre, the bottom of the dashboard terminates in a flat control panel that is angled slightly towards the driver and is used to operate the climate control and audio functions as well as housing the favorite buttons for the iDrive system.
The iDrive Controller and direct menu control buttons are located on the centre console between the driver and front passenger on a level with the seat cushions.
The area between the dashboard and seat cushions is completely clear across the cockpit’s entire width. The drive concept dispenses with the need for the transmission tunnel normally found on conventional vehicles, resulting in a completely open space connecting the left and right footwells.
This creates an impression of roominess and allows the driver to easily swap to the front passenger seat and get out on that side.
Information is visualised in the form of three-dimensional, high-resolution displays: a 6.5 inch (16.5 centimetre) screen positioned on the steering column, with all driving-related information, and a second 8.8 inches display in the center of the dashboard, positioned at exactly the same height.