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The BMW i8 takes the hybrid car to a new frontier

The BMW i8 takes the hybrid car to a new frontier Image 1

In the past there has been a complete disconnect between the benefits of a hybrid (fuel economy, environmental friendliness) and out and out performance. Hybrids were dreary and performance cars were going to kill the planet, depending on who you spoke to, but not any more. BMW's newly-launched i8 offers all the benefits of hybrid economy with almost supercar-like performance.

BMW are trumpeting it as the sports car of the future; as reserves dwindle you can still have your fun in this and get plenty of miles to the gallon, they say. Let's see.

The looks

There are no two ways about it, the i8 is a sensational looking thing. In many ways there are comparisons to be drawn here between the i8 and the M1, the only other mid-engined vehicle in BMW's history. The sleek lines put you in mind of that 70s and early 80s icon, and the side-on silhouette tell of a car with style and power. It is a car that is sure to draw the eye of the average passer-by.

How does it perform?

The power is delivered via a 1.5 litre turbo-charged petrol engine in harness with two electric motors, through an all-wheel drive powertrain that offers tremendous grip.

The i8 produces 357bhp and 420lb ft of torque - absolutely remarkable figures for a hybrid - which gives it on-the-road performance that can mix with Porsches. Quite the achievement. Even more staggering when you consider that it can also do around 70 miles to the gallon. It's less than the 134.5 mpg that was claimed, but in real-world terms they are remarkable figures.

The interior

The interior cabin of the i8 is a beautiful piece of design, but happily manages to retain its user-friendliness. The driving position and controls will be immediately familiar to anyone used to driving the sporty end of the BMW range, too.

Standard equipment includes the iDrive computer control system, DAB radio, climate and cruise controls, head up display and Bluetooth and USB connectivity, meaning that driving the i8 will be nothing if not civilised.

Though the majority among us will have to stick with our one, three and five series, we can all dream, and the i8 is a spectacular car that is more than worthy of that dream.