Last time BMW had an 8 Series – plug-in hybrid or otherwise – was 1999. Though BMW offered a slew cylinder options for its high-end coupe, our favorite was the V12. The original 8 Series was designed to attract a new kind of Bimmer buyer, one who wanted a bit more performance and refinement than the brand had ever embodied until that point.
Now we get to see BMW’s 21st century answer to the 8 Series: the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. And just look at it: it’s absolutely stunning. BMW designers have successfully taken the visual vibrancy of the 6 Series grand tourer and re-shaped it into a very elegant sports car.
Although a three-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor – instead of a V8 or V12 – power the new i8, it is nonetheless the intellectual successor to the first 8 Series. It produces a combined 362 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, which will push it to 60 from a dead standstill in 4.5 seconds and onto an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
The i8 isn’t all about looks and power. In electric only mode, it can go up to 22 miles on a single charge and hit 95 mph. Probably not at the same time, though.
Open the gullwing doors and drivers will find the i8 interior continues the modern BMW sensibility with lots of gray and very few buttons. Despite its spare infotainment layout, the cabin of the i8 looks surprisingly busy. Shapes, levels, and color shifts dart around the dashboard, center console and door panels in a very un-BMW manner. We’re not sure we like the business of it. We’ve thought some current BMW interiors boring but this just goes too far in the other direction.
Just before these pictures were leaked, BMW released one last teaser video of the i8, which you can see below. If you’re hoping for the roar of an engine, keep looking. The i8 will probably be mostly silent, as the sound of a three-cylinder $100,000+ German sports car won’t likely set alight the souls of passersby.
The curtain officially drops at the Frankfurt Auto Show next week. Be sure to check back for more on the i8 and much, much more.
[Main image: Ecomento]