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Today's Deal - BMW i8

BMW i8 Coupes for sale near you

What Edmunds Says

If the 2014 BMW i8 lives up to its claims -- elite sports car performance, miserly fuel economy, quick charge times -- prepare to rethink your ideas of what a hybrid can be.

Pros

More horsepower than a six-cylinder 3 Series; exceptional fuel economy; futuristic design.

Cons

Futuristic price, minus the world-beating performance of models priced about the same.

Available i8 Models

Base

  • hybrid engine 
  • Automatic transmission 
  • All-wheel drive 

View All Features & Specs

MSRP unavailable

2014 BMW i8 Coupe

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
  • Comparison
  • Long-Term

What's New for 2014

The 2014 BMW i8 is an all-new model.

Introduction

The 2014 BMW i8 represents the German automaker's vision of a high-performance plug-in hybrid. If this is what the future looks like, sign us up. Zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds? A full charge in three hours from a regular garage outlet? A top speed of 155 mph? Yes, please.

For the i8, BMW chops its classic 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine formula in half. The i8 uses a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline three-cylinder paired with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The three-cylinder drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, while the electric motor powers the front wheels through a two-speed automatic.

The engine and electric motor combine for 357 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque and all-wheel-drive performance, all integrated into a chassis that is 10 pounds lighter and 1.5 inches longer than the 3 Series. The i8 also delivers stellar handling thanks to 50/50 weight distribution, a low, centrally mounted battery pack and dual powertrains that essentially make the i8 an all-wheel-drive performance car.

BMW says the i8 can also travel 22 miles and reach a top speed of 75 mph on electrons alone. Uncorked with the gasoline engine in the lead, it will reach a top speed of 155 mph. BMW officials won't commit to a fuel-efficiency number, but have previously said the i8 could return the electric equivalent of 95 mpg.

Lightweight construction -- notably, aluminum subframes, chemically hardened glass (similar to that used in smartphones) and a 2+2 passenger cell integrated into a carbon-fiber chassis -- helps bring lofty performance within reach. Those plus-2 rear seats are small, however, smaller than even a Porsche 911's, and are best considered auxiliary luggage space. You'll need the space, too, since the trunk is rated at a paltry 5.4 cubic feet. Even settling into the front seats requires some practice given the i8's unique scissor-lift-style doors.

We recently drove the i8 and found its easy thrust in EV mode a close match for the Tesla Model S. The accelerator felt buttery smooth and the brake pedal felt progressive and natural, without the hardness or "wooden" character of other regenerative braking systems. In Sport mode (there are also Comfort and Eco Pro settings), the i8 further awakens, feeling light, agile and averse to body roll. The hybrid never quite overwhelms with acceleration, but also never feels winded, the electric motor's torque nicely covering for the small turbo as the latter winds up to deliver its power contribution.

Whatever the i8 lacks in competitive performance, it won't lack for style. Its low-slung profile is punctuated by standard U-shaped LED headlights. Laser-light high-beam headlights will eventually be offered once approved by federal regulators, and BMW says they illuminate the road up to 2,000 feet ahead. Inside, a multi-tiered and layered cockpit design uses recycled materials and naturally treated leather for upholstery and panel surfaces. Like the smaller i3 electric car, the i8 will offer three trim levels -- Mega, Giga and Tera -- all with varying degrees of sport and luxury appointments.

The 2014 BMW i8 arrives in the spring and starts around $136,000. That's well above its most obvious target, the Tesla Model S, and that kind of money also buys a lot of Porsche 911. Performance aficionados won't likely be swayed and may even look across the BMW lineup to the "M" cars. But for the hybrid buyer seeking power, performance and efficiency through a lower profile, the 2014 BMW i8 presents a unique choice.

Check back for more information on the 2014 BMW i8, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.

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