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The Top Gear car review:BMW i8
For:Futuristic but it all works incredibly well, looks absolutely stunning too
Against:Not quite the hard-edged BMW supercar some may yearn for
What is it?
The first and only BMW supercar was the mighty M1. But it built that back in the 1970s; what on earth has it been doing in the meantime? Sitting back while Audi wins over a lucrative new set of customers with the R8, that’s what. Finally, we have a response. Which, would you believe, is also an ‘8’. But this is preceded by ‘i’ - i for electric. That’s right, BMW has made the world’s first and only petrol-electric hybrid supercar.
It’s about as far from the usual BMW template as you can get. The engine is a tiny 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder, mounted transversely ahead of the rear wheels. Tiny, but mighty: it produces 231bhp. There’s a 131bhp electric motor up front and a big plug-in electric battery to give it serious potency. All this is packed into a carbon fibre tub and wrapped in stunning thermoplastic bodywork; it looks like a concept car that’s escaped from the motor show stage. Radical? You bet.