BMW i3 Concept Coupe (2012) first photos

Published: 28 November 2012

BMW has converted its i3 electric hatchback into a three-door. Munich might call it the new BMW i3 Concept Coupe, but essentially it’s the hatch minus a pair of doors.

Receiving its world debut at the 2012 Los Angeles auto show, which starts later today, the new BMW concept car is another spin-off from the Project i electric car family and proves that Munich plans a whole family of EVs when the range launches in 2013.

Judging by the spy photos we’ve seen, the BMW i3 models won’t change too dramatically for production, so you can expect something close to this on sale next year.

BMW i3 Concept Coupe: the lowdown

Munich has taken the five-door i3 and applied its usual every-which-shape range makeover. BMW’s the past master at spinning off multiple variants off a single model range – much as they do to turn, say, a 1series hatch into a coupe.

The i3 three-door measures 3964mm long, 1768mm wide and 1555mm high – so it’s a tad lower and wider than the supermini, but you’re hardly going to get the two confused. The wheelbase remains identical.

There are two individual rear seats nestling in the back of the electric coupe; this car is supermini sized at a whisker under four metres, so don’t expect acres of space back there.

The engine room

The i3 Concept Coupe is powered by a BMW electric motor mustering 125kW, equivalent to 168bhp, while peak torque stands at 184lb ft. Although many BMWs will soon  be front-wheel drive, the i3 remain RWD. The engine is powered by lithium-ion batteries stored under the i3’s floor.

Like the hatchback, the i3 coupe is again built around a so-called ‘Life’ module, aka a carbonfibre passenger cell while the mechanicals are held in the ‘Drive’ module, made out of aluminium. It’s so rigid that BMW has been able to do away with a B-pillar.

Curio aside: tyre spotters will enjoy ogling these unusual tyres: they might sit on chunky 20in rims, but they’re exceptionally narrow – measuring 155/60 R20 at the front axle, 175/55 R20s astern. Better for low rolling resistance while still keeping the kerbside wow factor.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet