Words & photos - Daniel Bevis
You can imagine the meeting in which the notion of the i8 was first presented to the BMW board. 'So, you want to take on the Audi R8, a car that's generally agreed to have refined and perfected the concept of the usable everyday supercar, with something that looks like a spaceship and has a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder Mini Cooper engine? Are you sure about this...?'
Actually, it was probably even more eyebrow-raising than that, given that the initial 2009 concept was mooted as a turbo-diesel. But the production version, as you see here, is a super-clever hybrid from the future; that dinky three-pot turbo kicks out 228bhp, somewhat incredibly, and is bolstered by a 129bhp electric motor to add up to a boisterous 357bhp and 420lb.ft - enough for 0-62mph in 4.4s and a top whack of 155mph. What's more, it'll do 75mph in pure electric mode and, despite being stuffed full of batteries, the thing only weighs 1,485kg. Oh, and that thing about it looking like a spaceship? That's a wonderful, wonderful thing - those electric blue accents, the pinching C-pillars, the fusion of copious angles and curves, it's a delectable feast for the eyes.
Quick, pretty, clever - BMW are surely onto a winner with this one. It all makes the R8 look rather last-generation.
Spotted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed - click here for more photos.