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BMW i8 Concept plug-in hybrid sports car in detail

The first official details of the BMW i8 Concept have been revealed along with images of the car that seemingly show it in near-production form.

The BMW i8 Concept was revealed alongside the BMW i3 Concept, which previews the brand’s first mass-produced all-electric city car. Both vehicles will make their international debuts at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The BMW i8 Concept retains much of the theatre and excitement of the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept that first previewed the futuristic sports car design at Frankfurt in 2009, and starred at the 2011 Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne last month.

Unlike the Vision concept which utilised a diesel engine, the i8 Concept is powered by a petrol engine and an electric motor. The 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine produces an astonishing 164kW of power and 300Nm of torque. To give that some perspective, the current BMW 125i is powered by a 3.0-litre inline-six with 160kW of power and 270Nm of torque – double the capacity, double the cylinders, 4kW less power, 30Nm less torque.

Assisting the petrol engine is 96kW/250Nm electric motor, which draws power from a lithium-ion battery. With a combined maximum power output of 260kW and 550Nm, the i8 Concept is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds (80-120km/h in 4.0 seconds) and will go on to an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.

Far from just being a performance car, however, the i8 Concept can also be driven in fully electric zero-emissions mode for up to 35km. A full recharge of the battery from a standard power socket takes approximately 105 minutes.

Under the European driving cycle, the i8 Concept uses fuel at a rate of just 2.7 litres/100km combined, making it one of the most fuel efficient internal combustion engined automobiles in history.

With the petrol engine positioned over the rear axle and the electric motor over the front for a perfect 50:50 weight distribution, the BMW i8 Concept can become silent front-drive electric, a rear-drive highway cruiser or an all-wheel drive performance machine, depending on your mood.

The exterior features BMW’s new i design language. The body incorporates carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) – in white, high-gloss black and stream blue – with an extensive glasshouse.

Aerodynamics was the major influence on the overall construction, which is optimised to cut through the air as efficiently as possible. The overlapping, layered surfaces contribute to this, and give the i8 Concept a dynamic, three-dimensional appearance.

The flowing design continues inside the cabin. The central screen and console are directed towards the driver, and a smaller instrument panel screen sits behind the steering wheel to provide maximum information and clarity.

The surfaces are a combination of leather, metals and high-gloss piano black plastics.

The i8 and i3 concepts also introduce Last Mile Navigation and Intermodal Route Planning. The former sends navigation information to your smartphone to help you locate your final destination on foot, while the latter analyses public transport options to complete the journey.

The navigation system also calculates the best way to manage energy consumption for the trip to ensure that it operates at peak performance and optimal efficiency when required.

A production version of the BMW i8 Concept is expected to go on sale in Australia in 2014 with a predicted price tag of $300,000.

BMW i8 Concept specifications:

Length/height/width: 4632mm/1280mm/1955mm

Wheelbase: 2800mm

Number of seats: 2 + 2

Kerb weight: 1480kg

Output: 260kW/550Nm overall: 164kW300Nm petrol engine + 96kW/250Nm electric motor

Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds

Fuel consumption (combined): 2.7 litres/100km

Electric range: 35km

Battery charge time: 105 minutes for 100 per cent charge

Luggage capacity: Approximately 150 litres

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