BMW's hybrid supercar

BMW has revealed its new ‘i’ brand, part of a drive to produce eco-friendly cars that are still fun to drive.

Every model under the ‘i’ umbrella will aim to set new standards in lightweight construction, advanced drivetrain technology and cutting-edge design. And to kick off its new line-up, BMW’s unwrapped production concepts of its i3 city vehicle and the i8 hybrid supercar.

You’ve seen the i3 before, under the guise of the Megacity Vehicle, with its 125kW/250Nm electric engine that’s powered by a lithium-ion battery. To keep weight down, BMW will use pioneering construction technology in order to produce the first mass-produced car with a carbonfibre chassis.

Originally previewed as the Vision Concept at Frankfurt in 2009, the futuristic i8 supercar takes the i3’s hybrid electric technology and mates it to a high-output 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo. The diminutive engine produces an incredible 164kW/300Nm and drives the rear axle only. But when used in combination with the electric motors across the front axle, the i8 can bolt to 100km/h in less than five seconds … well into M3 V8 territory. But here’s the rub: it can achieve this while delivering economy of less than 3.0L/100km (try that in an M3).

It works as a parallel hybrid, meaning it can draw power from both engines simultaneously while driving, and uses regenerative energy to recharge the battery. It can also be used as an zero-emission electric car for short distances, but the downside is that it only has a range of 35km. BMW claims it takes two hours to fully charge from a domestic power outlet.

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