The 2013 BMW i8, a dramatically styled sports car with a hybrid powertrain, has been caught during cold weather testing by our spy photographers. Shown wearing only minimal bodywork camouflage, the lines of the i8 are as futuristic as the original Vision EfficientDynamics Concept shown during the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show. BMW also unveiled a revised version of that model, called the Vision ConnectedDrive Concept, during this year's 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
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Not much appears to have been lost in the translation from show car to production model. The exterior is bold, with what appears to be translucent panels integrated into the design of the doors. In the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept, the doors opened scissor-style to permit access to the front and rear seats. It appears this wild detail is to be included in the production model when it arrives in 2013.
The New "i" Sub-Brand
The i8 is one of two vehicles has planned for its new green-minded "i" sub-brand. First to arrive will be the BMW i3, a compact 4-seat electric vehicle intended for urban driving. Further up the price and performance scale, the i8 will be powered by a hybrid system incorporating a small gasoline-powered engine—though the exact specifics and power output have not yet been released. BMW has promised that the performance of the i8 will be in keeping with that of the brand's other sports models. Other vehicles will then be added to the "i" lineup after the launch of the i3 and i8.
Lightweight materials—like carbon fiber and aluminum—will make up a big part of the i8's structure. This should help to offset the weight of the lithium-ion battery pack and other high-tech hardware beneath the car's skin. Regenerative braking and BMW's stop-start system (which turns off the engine when the car is stopped, and then restarts it automatically when acceleration is needed) will almost certainly be included in the i8.
There is no word on pricing, but don't expect BMW's hybrid showcase to come cheaply.