BMW i8 Spy Shots

The BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid sports car is just the sort of crazy project that could help redefine the BMW brand – and perhaps even the notion of what makes a car enthusiast – for the 21st Century. It's the sort of out-of-the-box thinking we've been waiting for some automaker to deploy, so these new details are exciting.

To start with, according to Britain's Car, the i8 will only be available as a plug-in hybrid – no conventional, internal-combustion-only version will be offered. That means no M version will be in the cards, at least not an M product in the way we currently define the BMW performance moniker. But the report says the i8 will have a more powerful gas engine than we've previously reported, with its 1.5-liter three-cylinder cranking out 223 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque through the rear wheels. The front-drive electric motor is said to be rated at 170 horsepower, giving the i8 a combined 393 hp and 406 lb-ft.

The report claims that the i8 will have a 20-mile all-electric range, a top speed of 156 miles per hour, and sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds. Curb weight is said to be just 3,125 pounds, which is less than most models of the new 2012 3 Series, thanks to the i8's carbon fiber body and aluminum chassis. Recharge time is said to be six hours, presumably on a 220-volt system. In all, a pretty amazing package.

But here's the kicker: Car says the i8 will be priced above €100,000, which is $132,600 based on today's exchange rates. We expect the i8 to hit the market as a 2014 model, and while that price is spendy by plebeian standards, the queue for the car will most certainly be long, at least initially.

Click past the jump if you've missed any of BMW's i8 videos.