Turner BMW i8 Project Car

** Updated 08/28/2015 **

- Chris Harris

The BMW i8, or BMW Concept Vision Efficient Dynamics as it was first introduced in 2009, is the first BMW since the iconic late-Seventies M1 sports car with a "mid-engine" design. Using conventional terminology, this is a 357hp 3,275lb sports car employing all-wheel drive and 2+2 seating. But any comparisons to the typical mid-engine car of the last 50 years would be in error. Because in addition to the fossil-burning mid-mounted 1.5-liter turbocharged internal combustion engine producing 228hp, the i8 features a front-mounted 98kW (129hp) electric motor powered by a 7.1kWh lithium ion battery pack and delivering power to the front wheels. The technology and engineering behind the project puts BMW in the same league as the current crop of hypercar manufacturers with million-dollar price tags - McLaren (P1), Ferrari (LaFerrari), and Porsche (918). It was unveiled in 2009 as a concept for the future. The production i8 is evidence that the future is now.


What does all of this mean? This is more than a gimic for BMW to tout as its halo sports car. If all BMW wanted was to reaffirm their sports car credentials they could have dropped an S65 V8 or S55 twin-turbo I6 into an attractive design. But BMW management was more forward thinking. This is BMW mounting fresh attacks on two automotive fronts: efficiency and driving enjoyment. BMW is the first among the volume manufacturers to enter the hybrid sports car arena. Sure McLaren, Ferrari, and Porsche all arrived at the same time. That's pretty good company to keep. But instead of ultra-limited production and million dollar price tags, the i8 is a serious effort at selling the hybrid sports car. BMW set their goals beyond making a splash and owning headline space. The i8 had to be a winner as a regular car, albeit a fast and sexy one. Put your 458, 911, and Corvette toys away until the weekend. Park the Tesla until you need the extra rows of seats. The i8 delivers large portions of enviro-friendly fun with a price point on par with the traditional two-seat sports cars.

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