First Drive: BMW i8 Prototype

#BMW, #M3

Enter the i8
We're about to have our first encounter with one of the most significant new cars of the new decade. Engulfed in blue smoke and accompanied by red laser effects, BMW's new hybrid supercar enters the pitch-black stage. Wearing blue swirl-pattern camouflage, the white coupe marks the high end of BMW's ambitious project i portfolio, and will likely be badged i8 when it comes to market in 2013. Together with a megacity vehicle, the i8 will kick off carbon-fiber revolution at BMW. Rear engined and initially available only as a hybrid, the i8 is the most efficient BMW sports car ever conceived.

Getting in to this futuristic BMW is not easy. At just a hair over four-feet high, it's limbo dancer low, and the door opening is shaped like a mail slot. The man at the wheel helps out by reciting the correct entry sequence. Start with sliding the left leg in, then lift the bum over the sill, align and lower the torso, assume a ducked posture and then reel in the right foot. Once inside, we find legroom is as tight as in an olympic bobsled, the scalp duly leaves a grease mark on the tinted glass roof, and the right shoulder is wedged against the composite door, which has been pushed shut from the outside. The 2+2 configuration is largely fanciful. With the front seats in the rearmost position, the space for additional occupants shrinks to zero.

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