• BMW i8 will start at $135,925 before shipping
  • Goes on sale next spring as a 2015 model
  • Plug-in hybrid motor makes a combined 362 horsepower

BMW has officially announced pricing for its plug-in hybrid i8 coupe. The high-performance hybrid will start at $135,925 plus destination, placing it in competition with high-dollar luxury models from Aston Martin, Audi and Porsche.

Officially revealed in production form earlier this week at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the BMW i8 is an all-wheel-drive sports coupe with futuristic styling. Exterior traits include large wheels, highly stylized front and rear bumpers and a low-slung design that features upward-swinging doors.

The eye-catching exterior matches the car's unusual powertrain. Under the skin, a 231-horsepower 3-cylinder engine powers the rear wheels, while a 131-hp electric motor works the front wheels. The result is 362 hp combined, all-wheel drive and an exotic-car-like 0-to-60 miles per hour time of around 4.4 seconds.

But reaching 60 mph in 4.4 seconds is the least of the i8's tricks. According to BMW, the plug-in exotic will return an estimated 94 miles per gallon -- a figure once reserved for tiny hatchbacks with electric drivetrains. The i8 also uses a Driving Experience Control switch to allow drivers to choose between Sport, Eco, Pro or Comfort settings. A fifth eDrive setting allows the i8 to travel up to 22 miles on electric power alone.

With its $135,925 base price, the i8 will compete with several top-end luxury sports cars. Rivals will include: the Audi R8, which starts around $116,000; the Porsche 911 Carrera S, which starts around $100,000; and the Aston Martin Vantage, which starts at $123,000.

Thus, the i8 will be more expensive than its closest rivals. And since the R8, 911 and Vantage all boast over 400 hp, the i8 will also be the least powerful. So BMW will have to convince shoppers that the i8's new technology is worth a premium over more established, gas-powered competition.

BMW says the i8 will go on sale next spring, likely as a 2015 model.

What it means to you: If you're interested in combining green technology with a sporty drive, the BMW i8 may be worth waiting for.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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