Portrait of a Supercar: BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid

Please stare, I’m inviting you to. You’ll be forgiven for drawing comparisons to sci-fi transports and Tron wizardry—I know I look otherworldly and it’s hard to find the words. My design went from concept to production model almost as smoothly and seamlessly as wind flows over my sculpted, carbon fiber exterior. Sometimes a concept is more than an idea—it’s a design that’s ahead of its time.

How avant-garde am I? I can be equipped with laser headlights, which emit 70 percent more light than anyone else’s LEDs. Add my sporty gas-electric nature and I truly am form following function into the future and boldly going where… well, you know the rest. From the Hamptons to the High Line, you’ll see nothing else like me—even the all-electric crowd takes note. So-called pioneers may short out from extreme buyer’s remorse, shocked at my electrifying charisma. Owners of those other hybrids will wonder why they didn’t round up just a little more green. Most electrics and hybrids will not keep up with my dainty carbon footprints, mind you. The hypnotic purr of my dual-drivetrain propulsion system is even a touch more ambitious than my brand’s sporty M-Division. And it mimics the operation of a certain million-dollar Spyder out of Stuttgart, Germany. Exotics could even experience inadequacy when next to these lines of mine that seem almost more alien than Bavarian.

Unlike a full electric, there’s no need for range anxiety or hypermiling. Smooth and fluid from gradual start, yet forceful when prodded, I’m everything the ultimate driving machine should be—while averaging 30mpg. I am not my brethren, neither in design nor force. My gas-fueled cell is a 1.5-liter turbo 3-cylinder borrowed from my MINI cousin, which pumps 228 ponies to my rear wheels. My electric motor—which can be fully juiced through a standard 120V connection in about 4 hours—cycles 129 horses to the front and can power me for 22 miles. Together, the way they play along this svelte chassis will make you grin and babble like a young man on prom night. My total output measures up at 357hp and 420lb-feet of torque and combined with a smart design—a trim curb weight of just 3,275lbs thanks to an alloy frame and carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell—I’ve got pleanty of get-up-and-go.

Easing open my graceful vertical-lift doors, one almost expects to hear the shoosh of a spaceship airlock. Swing your legs inside, pull down the ergonomic handle on my hatch and attempt to compare my cabin to, anything, really. Perhaps “command center” is a more fitting label for my cascading center-stack of controls and technology, which place everything from infotainment to vehicle diagnostics in clear line of sight and operation. Paired with my Bimmer family’s now famous iDrive gearshift, this cockpit is anything but drone; it feels more fighter jet than car. While rocketing around town, notice how no playlist ever quite drowns out my melodic exhaust? You’re actually being sirened by artificial intelligent noise, derived from a sampling of my engine notes funneled through my speakers.

I know you’re still not looking past my futuristic femme-bot curves, so try to listen as I proudly boast about my carbon-neutral manufacturing process; the same one that utilizes 100 percent renewable electricity. What’s more, my build time halves that of conventional cars and—while you can always have too much of a good thing—I can theoretically be born on all-out clone war levels of scale. Though my signature kidney grill, side trim, interior lines and derrière are all aglow with shimmering metallic blue accents, my appearance is anything but generic.

Never thought you’d take your stable to greener pastures? You’re not the first. But trust me, you won’t want to be the last to experience my eco-friendly, truly enthusiast driving experience. Find your way behind my wheel and gaze into this healthy look at the future, now.

Vital Stats
Engine: 1.5-liter turbo 3-cylinder and synchronous electric motor
0-60: 4.2 seconds
Max Speed: 155mph
Max Power: 228hp (gas engine), 129hp (electric motor), total output 357hp
Max Torque: 236lb-ft (gas engine), 369lb-ft (electric motor), total output 420lb-ft
Base Price: $136,625

william k. gock

william k. gock

William K. Gock is the automotive content contributor for Playboy Magazine. His car and motorcycle reviews can also be found in numerous national print and online publications. Born and raised in New York's Hudson Valley, Gock currently lives with his wife and son in Babylon.