Traditionally, nominations for the Autoblog Technology of the Year award are earned for specific developments – a new-think powertrain, a uniquely developed material, a groundbreaking smartphone app, or what have you. In the case of BMW's marvelous i8, it so bristles with novel applied sciences and fresh features that we broke with tradition and nominated the entire car.
We just couldn't help ourselves. Oh, we could've focused on the i8's carbon-fiber monocoque, or its well-resolved plug-in-hybrid powertrain that incorporates a tiny 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and an electric motor, or its seamless through-the-road all-wheel drive. This is a car that will even have frickin' laser beams for headlights – at least it will for our friends in Europe (and it will in the US, should our legislators ever catch up).
It may sound odd to suggest that a six-figure sports car is a good value, but there's an argument to be made. The i8 isn't just a bit of street theater that stops traffic better than any Lamborghini or Ferrari. It also has performance that's comparable to far more conventional automobiles like Porsche's 911 Carrera 4 (a car that isn't that much less expensive when similarly equipped), yet it offers whisper-quiet, gas-free electric commuting, too.
The Autoblog team tested the i8 exhaustively this fall, from dynamics testing on Northern Michigan's undulating Tunnel of Trees route to assessing ride quality and fuel economy during long interstate slogs, to poring over all of its menu-driven features and various drive modes. It's the real deal, and it looks, sounds, and drives like the future.
In the end, we just couldn't bring ourselves to nominate a single aspect of BMW's exotic yet surprisingly livable sports coupe – it had to be the whole package. Can you blame us?