The BMW i8
BMW has confirmed that thanks to ongoing testing and development, its i8 hybrid will be even faster and even more fuel efficient when it goes into production in April. And when the first European deliveries commence, two months later
, owners who have specified the car as a plug-in hybrid will be getting a two-door carbon fiber and aluminium coupé capable of going from 0-100kph (62mph) in just 4.4 seconds yet offers a combined cycle fuel consumption of just 2.1 liters/100kph (that's 134.5 mpg), meaning CO2 emissions of 49g/km.
However, as well as using the EU-approved standards for testing fuel consumption and pollution, BMW has also been putting the car through a host of real life performance tests -- i.e. its economy when stuck in traffic jams, when crawling along congested city streets and, because this is a German car, when pushed hard on the speed-limitless Autobahn.
Using these situations as a benchmark, the car returns between 5-8 liters/100km (56-35mpg), making it 50% more efficient than a petrol engine sportscar capable of the same acceleration and 155mph (250kph) electronically limited top speed. So in other words, its own M4 high-performance executive coupé.
But unlike a conventional supercar, that would have a high-powered V8 or V10 under the hood, the i8 has a three-cylinder, 231hp, twin turbo engine that works in synch with and independently of a 131hp electric motor.
It means that the car can be powered solely by either engine or that both can work together to boost acceleration and horsepower. It also means that around town the car can be powered uniquely by the zero-emission electric engine for a distance of 37km (23 miles) and can still offer a top speed of 120kph (75mph).
Other performance car makers, most notably McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari, are all using a similar approach to bring speed and environmental credentials to their latest flagship cars, but what sets the BMW apart is that rather than using a big engine supported by an electric motor, the company has chosen to up performance by shedding as much weight as possible (it weighs just 1,485kg) and by creating a car with the best drag coefficient possible -- 0.26 -- while ensuring it's still big and long enough to seat four, rather than two, the supercar norm.
And although initial deliveries will be arriving in June, from this autumn the car will also be available with optional laser light headlights. More energy efficient yet more powerful and highly concentrated than standard LED lights, they have an effective range of 600 meters and their illuminating effect is similar to natural daylight.
Audi is also planning to bring the same type of headlights to its new TT sports coupé at the end of the year, but the i8 looks set to get there first, which will make it the world's first production car to boast the technology.
The BMW i8 is expected to cost around €120,000 before optional extras.