“The most progressive sports car of our time.”

That’s how Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) boldly describes its upcoming high-performance plug-in hybrid as one of the world’s top luxury carmakers moves closer to the unveil of the i8, less than a week after the global presentation of its i3 city car.

BMW’s move into plug-ins comes as automakers plan to float high-performance plug-in hybrid technology in the coming years. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (TYO:7267) has its own high-per plug-in, the reintroduced NSX, scheduled for 2016.

The Muenchen, Germany-based owner of the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands this week unveiled the latest prototype of the i8 at its Miramas testing grounds in France and revealed more specs, including its turbocharged acceleration rate of zero to 60 in less than 4.5 seconds and its 95 mpg fuel economy.


The bold claims, BMW says, are attributable to the vehicle’s light weight – the roof is carbon fiber and most of the body is aluminum – and its eDrive technology, which sends lithium-ion-stored electricity to the front tires while the rear wheels are pushed by a 1.5-liter turbo gas engine. The car can run on electricity alone, but it would barely get you out of town.

These are the specs we know so far. Whether BMW delivers on them, especially the fuel economy and the acceleration rate, will have to wait until the company unveils the i8 without a blue-and-white cloak, as seen above. 

- Six-speed automatic
- Zero to 60 mph in under 4.5 seconds
- 50 to 75 mph in less than 4.5 seconds
- A 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo gas engine
- Front wheels powered by a lithium ion power unit, rear wheels powered by gasoline
- Top speed in hybrid mode: 155 mph (250 kph)
- Top speed running just the battery: 75 mph (120kph)
- Range in hybrid mode: 310 miles (500 kms)
- Range running just the battery: approximately 35 miles