When the BMW i8 debuted as a concept in 2009, it was immediately one of the most dramatic things anyone had ever seen. So dramatic, in fact, that it gained a starring role alongside Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
But the best part of it all was that BMW, surprisingly, didn’t actually change much from concept to production styling. The butterfly doors, the dramatic rear-quarter, and the laser headlights all transferred nicely from the Vision EfficientDynamics to the i8.
With only 362 horsepower, it might not be the most impressive car in its segment. But unlike the Porsche 911 or Jaguar F-Type, the BMW i8 provides something that neither of those cars do: a hybrid powertrain.
A teeny tiny little 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine sits next to a 7.1 kw lithium-ion battery and returns near 30 mpg. It might not sound like much, but when you consider how this car performs, it’s actually pretty impressive.
And then there’s the most exciting thing of all: what BMW can do with it going forward. I wasn’t blown away by the i8 when I initially reviewed it, but it did point in a positive direction for BMW and hybrid sports cars everywhere.
Automakers can build a fun, sporty hybrid after all, and it doesn’t need to cost $1 million. And this is just the beginning. The i8 might not be the most perfect car in the world, but it is one of the most exciting, given the possibilities. Small-displacement engines are quickly and constantly getting more powerful, battery tech is improving for longer life, and at this price range, materials are getting lighter and cheaper.
Just think about it like this: It’s the first time BMW made anything like this. Who produces the ultimate result on the first try? This is building block No. 1, and performance and efficiency can only go up from here. That’s one reason we should all be happy that it exists this Earth Day.