BMW i3 Coupe previews production car
The LA show car is based on real i3 underpinnings (as opposed to a bespoke concept car layout), and uses a lightly modified version of that car's carbonfibre passenger 'cell' to deliver its lower roofline.
However, the concept introduces a number of fresh styling cues for the i3 brand, including a deep dip in the rear window line (designed, apparently, to improve rear visibility for children), and it does away with the original concept's mostly transparent doors.
The second of the changes had been widely anticipated following customer feedback. Much of the cabin looks production-ready, including an iDrive-esque controller in the wide front centre console, although rear legroom looks much tighter than it did on the earlier concept – a result, perhaps, of the more realistic front seats.
Benoit Jacob, chief of design for the i brand (which will also include the i8 sports car), told What Car?: 'We have tried, throughout this project, to not promise things that we know we won't deliver. So this car is the latest step, and its cabin should give you a very good idea of how the production car will look. We’ve had to stop experimenting now and this is very real.'
Read more 2012 LA Auto Show news
The concept has a variety of interior finishes including wood, carbonfibre and a plant-based textile that's used for much of the door skins. 'We believe the i brand cars preview something called Next Premium,' said Jacob, 'and one element of that is that luxury doesn't need to mean complexity. So, the simplicity of this car's fascia is something that will very much make production.'
That's likely to mean a pair of digital displays – one for the speedometer and driver information area, and the other a more regular widescreen BMW-sourced infotainment and sat-nav set-up.
BMW has yet to announce any full-charge range or prices for the i3. However, a range of around 100 miles and a price tag of between £25k and £30k continue to be rumoured.
By John McIlroy