In 2014 BMW sent out a message as strong as it was courageous: the i8. Beyond those magnificent lines that denoted a delightful mix between a well-balanced, original elegance and unbridled sportiness, the i8’s strength lied in its hybrid technology that distributed the power between both front and rear wheels individually: the small, 1,500cc three-cylinder turbo engine at the rear along with the electric unit at the front produced a combined 362bhp and breath-taking performance. The chassis completed the original approach by adding a carbon fibre structure to the aluminium frame to create a sort of rigid protective shield around the passenger compartment. The aerodynamic solutions were also very interesting, both outside the car body and internally through special channels, resulting in a CX of just 0.28. An absolute novelty on the car were the small and very bright laser headlights.
This repertoire of technology still pales in comparison to the courage needed to change the rules that governed the world of high performance sports cars: with the introduction of the i8, BMW wanted to propose an entirely new concept of sports car that placed greater emphasis on respecting the environment. It did this by using recycled materials for the fabrics and by tanning the instrument panel with an extract of olive tree leaves, as well as by choosing a small supercharged engine, whose torque was boosted by a second electric unit. The plug-in hybrid car confirmed its vocation with a subtle yet elegant use of aerodynamic appendages to increase efficiency.
But why are we describing it in the past tense? Because after six years, roughly 20,000 units produced and some limited editions such as the Protonic Frozen Yellow Edition which will remain the most exclusive with around 100 examples produced, the i8 is going out of production and will not be replaced, at least in the immediate future.
Will it become a collectible classic? That’s not for us to judge. But observing it, not only technically but above all for the vision it proposed for tomorrow’s sports cars, it’s hard to believe it won’t.