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BMW i8 looks like the future of driving (pictures)

The plug-in hybrid BMW i8 uses carbon fiber construction and an innovative drive system, but its looks will garner the most attention as it looks like the future.

Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 25 Josh Miller/CNET

BMW launched the car initially as part of its futuristic 'i' project, the all-electric i3 and this, the plug-in hybrid i8.

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The i8 lays claim to the exotics segment with its up-opening doors.

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Unfinished carbon fiber is evident in the door structure.

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BMW's kidney grille remains on the i8, bookended between LED headlights.

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The i8 uses a unique drivetrain, with an electric motor driving the front wheels and a small gasoline engine turning the rear wheels.

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The tires are on the skinny side to lessen rolling resistance, which impacts handling.

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Along with all-wheel drive, active dampers take the ride quality from comfort to sport.

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Interesting aerodynamic features, such as this air channel, work themselves into the i8's body.

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Somewhere in this car is a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and an electric drive motor, but the manual notes that only BMW personnel should open it up.

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The rear cargo area is small, with most of the space taken up by the i8's 5-kilowatt battery pack.

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This J1772 port allows a full charge from a 240-volt source in just 1.5 hours.

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These sport seats have a minimal structure to reduce weight, yet remain comfortable.

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There is virtually no room for rear passengers.

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Blue accent lights run through the cabin.

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The cockpit design and controls borrow much from other BMW models.

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Similar to the suspension, an electric power steering system uses different programs for comfort and sport.

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The instrument cluster is an LCD panel, here showing speed and power gauges.

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In Sport mode, the instrument cluster goes red, and shows a speedometer and tachometer.

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The console holds the drive selector, drive-mode buttons and the iDrive controller.

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The iDrive main menu screen looks similar to the screen in standard BMW models, but uses a slightly different graphic treatment.

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BMW gives the i8 richly detailed navigation maps.

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The Eco Pro mode is designed to be the most efficient.

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BMW's music library interface carries over from other models, and is not very well designed.

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The audio screens show album art when available.

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Although the cabin is small, BMW fits 11 speakers in from Harman Kardon.

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