NSX and i8: The Next Wave

BMW i8 Concept Car
click any of the images to enlarge them

Two new supercars are on their way in 2014.  They have different approaches, but they’re both mid-engine, and they’re both hybrids.  Don’t worry, though.  It’s the good kind of hybrid.  You’ve seen concepts of both of them in movies, but the reality may be even cooler.

BMW i8 Concept Car

If you watched last summer’s Mission Impossible- Ghost Protocol, you might have noticed a futuristic BMW Tom Cruise tossed around the streets of Mumbai.  It was BMW’s latest concept, the i8, which will debut in production trim next year as a 2015 model.

The numbers might not impress you much at first.  It makes 362 hp total, with 131 to the front wheels via a pair of electric motors, and 231 to the rears from a 1.5 liter 3-cylinder.  Considering the weight of 3,285 lbs, that doesn’t sound like quite enough for a high-tech supercar.  But BMW says it will get to 60 in 4.5 seconds, probably due to the 420 lb-ft of torque.  Electrics are certainly good at something.  Though they haven’t said anything about range, they’re touting a figure of 95 mpg, which seems optimistic, but we shall see.

BMW i8 Concept CarWith the batteries stacked low and in the center “driveshaft” area, the weight distribution should be excellent.  And really, 3,300 lbs is pretty decent for an electric.  BMW kept the weight down by crafting the passenger cell out of carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

 

 

We know considerably less about the 2015 Acura NSX, but Tony Stark drove one in The Avengers, so it must be trick.

Behind the seats will hum a V6, as in the NSXs of yore, and this will be a 90-degree block based on the F1 engine Honda is developing with McLaren for the 2015 season.  Perhaps in some bout of one-upmanship with BMW, they’ve added a third electric motor to assist the engine.  Two will sit up front at the wheels, and one behind the pod with the transmission.

Though Honda hasn’t released any horsepower figures, it seems that the electrics in the front will be more focused on assisting the handling, while the (relatively) big V6 handles most of the power department.  This could be a brilliant feature of the new NSX, possibly reducing battery size, and therefore, weight.

The NSX showed up before the Mid-Ohio Indycar race last week to generate a little buzz and get some press time around the track.  It looks fantastic, much better than its earlier, plasticky versions, and it seems quite fast, indeed.

Acura NSX Concept Car Acura NSX Concept Car Acura NSX Concept Car

We’ve made no secret of our disappointment that it won’t be as pure as the NSX of old.  It has all the hybrid baggage and it won’t be offered with a proper manual.  But it is 2013, and we can’t expect new cars to cling to the old ways, even if they do offer more soul.

This pair is an interesting development in the future of the supercar.  Until now, hybrid supercars have actually been hypercars, like the Porsche 918 Spyder and the McLaren P1.  The i8 and NSX will be pricey, but not weekend-house-in-Monaco pricey.

Do you think they’ll set the standard for near-affordable, mid-engine supercars?
Let us know in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *