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Auto Show : 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

BMW i8: Frankfurt Auto Show

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author photo by Doug DeMuro

What Is It?

The BMW i8 is a 2-door, 2-seat plug-in hybrid sports car. It's the latest car to join BMW's "i" lineup, following the tiny i3 that BMW revealed in production form in July. While the i3 is offered as a fully electric car or a plug-in hybrid with a gasoline backup engine, that's not the case with the i8. Instead, all i8 models will use a 231-horsepower 1.5-liter 3-cylinder for the rear wheels and a 131-hp electric motor for the front wheels. The result is 362 hp, all-wheel drive, a 0-to-60 miles per hour time of 4.4 seconds and, by BMW estimates, an impressive 94 miles per gallon.

How Much?

Prices start at $136,000 and increase with options from there.

When Can You Get It?

Spring 2014.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because...

The BMW i8 makes plug-in hybrid technology cool. Its bold styling is full of sharp creases, daring lines and exciting new elements, such as blue accents and a sculpted rear bumper. Its doors are hinged on the car's A-pillar, meaning they open to the sky. And with 0-to-60 mph times of around 4.4 seconds, the i8 will leave many top-level sports cars in the dust. Pricing is steep, but when you think about the i8's many attributes -- a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, all-wheel drive, exotic styling -- it's easy to imagine paying big money for one.

Other Cars to Consider

Aston Martin Vantage -- It starts in the same price range as the i8 and offers similar head-turning styling. But those looking for a plug-in version will be sorely disappointed, since the technology has not yet reached low-volume brands such as Aston Martin.

Audi R8 -- There's no plug-in hybrid version, but the R8 includes many of the same particulars, such as all-wheel drive and head-turning styling. The R8 also starts in the same price range as the sporty i8.

Tesla Model S -- It's not a plug-in hybrid or a coupe, but the Model S will likely appeal to many of the same buyers as the BMW i8. It combines luxury, performance and gas mileage like few other cars on the road.

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BMW i8: Frankfurt Auto Show