BMW i8 Photos Leak Before Frankfurt Debut

A sneak peek at BMW’s new hybrid sports car.

Although it was set to debut next week at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, photos of the BMW i8 hybrid sports car have leaked out in advance, showing off the car’s sleek profile and futuristic-looking interior. The i8 is the second model of BMW’s new eco-minded “i” sub-brand after the compact i3.

We recently drove a prototype of the BMW i8 in France, but that model was covered in camouflage. These newest photos of the BMW i8 show a completely undisguised exterior that closely follows the styling of the i8 concept from the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The scissor doors remain, as does the low-slung, sports car profile with blue trim accents and a rising kink near the rear fenders. The interior looks to be an advanced, driver-focused cockpit with BMW’s traditional iDrive controller, a large infotainment screen on the dashboard, and an electronic LCD gauge cluster as well.

The i8 uses a similar electric motor at the i3, but the overall powertrain in the i8 is much more powerful thanks to a mid-mounted, twin-turbo, 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine. The 129 hp electric motor powers the front wheels, while the 1.5-liter engine can both charge the battery pack and put 228 hp to the rear wheels through a six-speed transmission. Combined power output is 357 hp, and BMW estimates the i8 can reach 62 mph in less than 4.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph while still delivering an estimated 95 mpg on the European combined cycle.

The BMW i8 will go on sale in the U.S. sometime next year at an estimated price of around $150,000. Look for more photos and information to come next week as the production-ready i8 makes its official debut in Frankfurt.