Matthew Jones26 March 2014

Listen to the new BMW i8

This is what BMW’s 1.5-litre three-pot sounds like when it launches. Is good…

This is what the upcoming BMW i8 sounds like launching in fully-mechanical Sport Mode. We had no idea three cylinder engines could sound this good...

Yep, that nasty, baritone rumble comes from a 230bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged triple, which is the same engine you'd find in (very) detuned form fitted to the latest Mini Cooper.

Alas, the finished car won't sound quite this good. The bods at bimmerpost.com, who captured this footage, tell us that it's got the Active Sound Design turned off, a system that dampens noises in the cabin. Annoyingly, you won't be able to disable ASD in the production version, even in Sport Mode. Quite why, we're not sure. That said, hopefully BMW will make sure it'll sound this good with their electronic enhancements.

It'll certainly sound tasty from the outside, though. If you click through our first drive gallery (unfortunately, the car is wearing a nauseating prototype disguise wrap), you can just see the two exhaust pipes. But the one on the left is actually a dummy, and houses an external speaker that produces lots of engine rumbles and farts. You can't switch that one off, either...

It's not just for MASSIVE SPORT NOISE though. Because it's a petrol/electric hybrid, it'll run silently (just like Jeremy's current favourite, the McLaren P1). So to warn pedestrians that it's about to slip by, BMW's pedestrian detection system (which uses many clever day and night vision cameras) triggers a speaker fitted to the front right area of its snout, which makes a howling noise along with the rear unit.

Though perhaps the unsilenced sound of that boosted triple would do a far better job...

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