BMW i8 prototype - spy shot

If you went to the movies over the holiday, chances are pretty good you saw the latest box-office-topping Tom Cruise vehicle. We're not talking about the globetrotting explosion-fest it came wrapped up in, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol; we're speaking of the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept car that featured heavily in the movie (along with seemingly every other model in Munich's arsenal).

But the Vision EfficientDynamics coupe isn't just a flight of fancy for the world's auto show circuit or for Cruise's Ethan Hunt character – it's set for production sooner than you think, albeit carrying the i8 moniker. Snapped undergoing testing through a fence, the extended-range plug-in supercar looks ready for the street, if only we could peel away the Van Gogh camouflage. This BMW 2+2 is widely expected to deliver a 0-62 mph time of 4.8 seconds, and we're expecting the lightweight flyer to lose the unique lower glass door panels of the 2009 show car (a design change hinted at by this prototype's swirly coverup).

Speaking of the doors, they also look to be more conventional in size and possibly operation – the concept car featured elongated butterfly doors that afforded accesses to both the front and rear seats. The prototype seen here would appear to have more conventionally sized apertures. We're guessing that mundane real-world considerations like crash-worthiness and ease of operation had something to do with the transition. Another likely concession to the realities of production auto-making appear to be a pair of rather ungainly bumper-level nacelles in the rear fascia that weren't present on the show car. We're not sure if these are merely reflectors, actual taillights or if they're simply clever camouflage, but we're hoping for the latter.

While the concept was powered by both an electric drivetrain and a small diesel generator, our spies suggest that the production car may switch over to a more conventional turbocharged four-cylinder range-extender. Whether it burns gas or oil, however, the i8 is sure to be one of the most radical cars on the road... and it's likely to carry an exotic price tag to match.