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BMW’s i8 charges in with $299,000 price tag

Quick plug: BMW has set Australian pricing for its revolutionary i8 plug-in hybrid sportscar at a snip under $300,000.

Plug-in hybrid BMW i8 sportscar to also offer back-up vehicle in times of need

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16 Jun 2014

BMW’S revolutionary i8 sportscar will cost from $299,000 when the first customer deliveries arrive in March next year – including a spare car waiting in the wings if ever they need it.

The German car-maker today set pricing for its game-changing plug-in petrol-electric hybrid 2+2 coupe, aiming directly at Audi’s two-seat, V8-engined R8 coupe as it aims to win over Australia’s cashed-up technology leaders in need of some serious street cred.

BMW said it would offer a number of buying options to potential customers, including a package that offers up to 12 days of access to a conventional car if they want to spend a weekend at the snowfields, and did not want to risk the i8.

Buyers of the rare sportscar – BMW has indicated it will sell no more than 50 i8s next year as it becomes the halo vehicle for the brand – will jump behind the wheel of a vehicle featuring a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine driving the rear wheels, but also linked via batteries to an electric motor nestled between the front wheels.

The petrol engine sends 170kW of power to the rear axle – almost as much as a 3.0-litre V6-engined Holden Commodore – while the electric motor adds another 96kW to the i8’s front, giving it on-demand all-wheel-drive handling.

Combined power from the conventional engine and electric motor power peaks at 266kW, while torque from the petrol engine peaks at 320Nm high in the rev range, and the electric motor’s 250Nm arrives almost from rest.

The combination is enough to push the i8 from zero to 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds, compared with the soon-to-be-updated Audi R8’s 4.6 seconds.

The i8 will sell in Australia equipped with six airbags wrapped in a lightweight but strong carbon fibre-reinforced plastic and aluminium skin.

It will include automated braking that can identify a stopped car in front, and even pedestrians that step out in front of the sportscar, as well as a ring of cameras that can provide a top-down view of what is around it.

The i8 will also feature LED headlights, as well as a head-up display in front of the driver to minimise distractions.

Drivers will be spoilt with keyless entry and start, a premium Harman Kardon sound system with digital radio, 20GB hard disk, and Bluetooth phone connection.

The i8 will also come with BMW’s ConnectedDrive service launching on the all-new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe due later this month that integrates a paired smartphone’s internet connectivity with several car-based functions.

BMW’s i8 will join the other model making up the German car-maker’s new alternative fuel line-up, the i3 city hatchback.

The i3 will sell from $63,900 when it goes on sale in November, with customers needing the assurance of a range-extending 650cc motorcycle engine having to hand over another $6000 to double the electric car’s range.

Last month, US electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla announced local pricing for its Model S sedan, which will kick off from $96,208 for the ‘60’ variant and top out at $133,257 for the Model S P85.

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