2015 BMW i8, test drive around Malibu, CA,Enlarge Photo
BMW has tuned the sound of the engine output, via a sound-generating chip that adds frequencies to the engine note based on engine speed and how fast the car is traveling. On upshifts in Sport mode, there's a nice honk through the exhaust system before the engine settles down to its new, lower speed.
But it's important to understand that the BMW i8 is a touring car, not a track car. It's priced in line with cars like the Audi R8 and Porsche 911, but it's a very different kind of car--one meant for use around town in electric mode, and then stretching its legs with the gasoline engine when performance that begins to approach the racy looks is desired.
While BMW will likely sell every i8 it sends to the U.S.--just 1,000 the first year, and likely no more than 5,000 a year after that--it remains to be seen if its remarkable looks and split personality will win it enough fans to justify the price tag.
But until that question can be answered a few years hence, the BMW i8 is a striking and attention-getting design that likely signals one potential future for sports cars: electric power around town, electric-assisted gasoline engines for performance.
Did we mention how much attention the i8 gets?
The 2015 BMW i8 will start arriving at selected BMW dealers in September 2014, at which time more information on trim levels will be released.
2015 BMW i8, test drive in greater Los Angeles area, Apr 2014Enlarge Photo