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BMW unveils the production i8, a hybrid supercar to challenge Porsche and Ferrari

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BMW i8 production model
BMW i8 production model

BMW has pulled the wraps off of the highly anticipated production version of its i8 hybrid supercar, and we're thrilled to report that many of the qualities that made last year's concept so exciting, so aggressive, and so sleek are still in place. The strikingly cool gull wing doors remain, as do the radical spoilers built into the rear window and rear fenders of the car. The blue highlights on BMW's signature kidney-shaped grill and beneath the doors are held over as well, as is the i8's wicked hood scoop.

But for all that's the same, there are of course plenty of changes that make the production a more feasible and practical ride. The glass doors and laser headlamps from the concept are gone. The interior is tamer than the concept's cockpit. And a new set of The spirit of the i8 concept remains10-spoke rims are found on this rendition of the i8. Arguably most importantly, the production i8 features a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, just as the prototype did. The coupe is powered by a 1.5 liter, turbocharged three-cylinder gas engine paired with a BMW eDrive electric drive system. The gas motor cranks out 231 horsepower, powering the rear wheels of the i8, while the 131-horsepower electric motor is channeled to the front wheels.

The German automaker promises a 0 to 62 miles-per-hour time of 4.4 seconds, and an all-electric range of up to 22 miles at a top speed of 75 mph. While the i8's electric range is nothing to the likes of an all-electric Tesla Model S, the i8 moving into production speaks to the growing interest in hybrid electric power among major automakers, sitting squarely as an answer to LaFerrari, the Porsche 918 Spyder, and whatever Lamborghini cooks up for 2015. When the i8 hits dealerships early next year, it'll wear a suggested retail price tag of $135,700.