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Future of sports cars is here! On the ROAD.

BMW'S i8 hybrid supercar has just been named UK Car of the Year for 2015, and it's easy to see why.

Capable of delivering a 357bhp punch, if provoked, it can also glide noiselessly along on pure electric power.

e 135mpg quoted fueleconomy gure needs taking with a grain of salt but, if you wanted a vision of the future of sports cars, you're looking at it right here.

Let's cut to the chase with the performance numbers. at 1,498cc three-cylinder midmounted engine drives the back wheels and a 96kW electric motor takes care of the fronts, endowing the 1,485kg i8 with some serious pep.

It'll zz from zero to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds and keep going to an electronicallylimited 155mph, which makes it quicker than a V8-engined Audi R8 o"the mark.

As you might expect, the i8 has a number of tricks up its sleeve. In EDRIVE mode, it's a front-wheel drive electricallypowered vehicle with a claimed range of 23 miles. is mode delivers a peak power output of 129bhp and a top speed of 75mph.

Select Comfort mode and the i8 is a plug-in hybrid with a range of up to 310 miles. Choose Sport mode by slotting a small lever from 'D' to 'S' and the i8 goes feral, the petrol engine and motor doubleteaming to really bring the excitement.

In this mode you get a combined 357bhp and a massive 570Nm of torque. e damping will tighten, the power assistance for the steering will taper o"and the software will juggle the torque split for maximum entertainment.

e calibration of the braking between regenerative and mechanical is something many manufacturers should benchmark. e i8's centre of gravity is admirably low, but the 215/45 R20 front tyres have been chosen as much for their green credentials as anything else. Wider tyres are optionally available and keen drivers should certainly tick that box.

e i8 looks like no other car.

It's sleek, clean in its detailing and features beetle-wing, upwards-opening doors. Priced PS99,845 on the road, it's tough to think of another rival in its price bracket that o"ers quite so much visual drama.

e rear end is particularly unusual, with no visible exhausts and what looks to be the tail of a Porsche 911 being enveloped by the i8's plastic bodywork.

e BMW i8 is an utterlyfascinating vehicle. ere's no doubt that this technology a"ords us a vision of the future. It already makes many of its more conventional rivals look positively quaint.

Where the i8 is even more special is in the way that it normalises this brain-bending complexity. It's beautifully-nished and comes with a warranty just like any other BMW product. It doesn't impose itself on you.

Yes, it's fearsomely fast in a straight line but the i8 is no B-road brawler. at model may well come and it will probably come from BMW, but here's something that's a bit more rened and looks set to change the way we think about this sort of car.

You might not have ever believed that a car with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine could command close to a six-gure price tag. e i8 does that yet still seems a bargain. It's an incredible achievement.


BMW i8, winner of the UK Car of the Year 2015 | |

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 5, 2015
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