The BMW i8 hybrid supercar has been revealed at the Frankfurt motor show, four years after the Vision EfficientDynamics concept was unveiled at the same show.
The look has mellowed in its journey from concept to reality, but the low nose and tail, flowing flanks and dramatic doors ensure the i8 looks like nothing else.
The four-seater is a little bigger than an Audi R8, at 4,689mm long, 1,942mm wide and 1,293mm high, with a 2,800mm wheelbase. But because it’s made of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and aluminium, the i8 weighs 1,490kg – that’s 70kg less than the lightest R8.
Also helping to keep weight down is the drivetrain. The rear wheels are powered by BMW’s new 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine. It produces 228bhp and is hooked up to a six-speed auto box. The front axle uses a mid-mounted lithium-ion battery to power a 129bhp electric motor, giving a total of 357bhp.
The car has an electric range of 22 miles at up to 75mph with an overall range of 310 miles, plus 113mpg fuel economy and 59g/km CO2 emissions.
With both power sources engaged, the i8 will go from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and hit a limited 155mph.
BMW also claims that the i8 will set new handling standards. Its centre of gravity is ‘less than 460mm,’ making it the lowest of any BMW, while the firm claims that despite the i8’s novel drivetrain, it retains almost perfect 50:50 front:rear weight distribution.
All i8s come with Dynamic Damper Control as standard, plus a host of driving modes that let you drive in a more economical or more sporting fashion.
Optional features include CFRP wheels, which save 3kg each compared to the standard-fit 20-inch alloys. If full LED headlights aren’t quite bright enough for you, there’s also the option of super-bright laser headlights that BMW claims are a world first.
The i8 is also the first to use the same chemically hardened glass that smartphone screens are made from. BMW selected the glass for the rear window because it’s lighter, stronger and offers better sound proofing.
Interior features include a free-standing display for the car’s functions and infotainment, digital dials and a head-up display.
The i8 goes on sale in late 2013, for around £100,000.
We've already driven a prototype version of the BMW i8. Check out our BMW i8 review.