BMW i8 hybrid supercar has Gorilla Glass windows, laser headlights

BMW has finally taken away the camouflage from its i8 plug-in hybrid supercar, revealing several world firsts for cars, including Gorilla Glass windows and laser headlights.

Under the bonnet of the BMW i8 there’s a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine pumping out a staggering — for a 3-cylinder engine — 170kW (231hp) of power and 320Nm of torque to the rear wheels via 6-speed automatic transmission. Next to the tiny petrol engine is a 96kW/250Nm electric motor powering the front wheels only via 2-stage transmission. Depending on the situation the engines can work in concert or by themselves.

Combined output is rated at 266kW (362hp) of power and 570Nm of torque. Used together they can propel the BMW i8 to a 0-100km/h sprint time of under 4.5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250km/h in hybrid mode and 120km/h when powered solely by the electric motor. Electric only driving range is said to be about 35km, while in hybrid form the i8 can eke out 500km between fuel stops. Fuel consumption is claimed to a Prius-beating 2.5L/100km, while CO2 output restricted to 59g/km.

The electric motor is fed by a lithium-ion battery pack that’s recharged via regenerative braking and the petrol motor during driving, and can also be plugged into mains power when parked. No word yet on how long the battery pack takes to recharge from mains.

Weight is kept to under 1,490kg thanks to a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell, as well as the use of other lightweight materials throughout the rest of the body, such as aluminium. To that weight saving end the i8 is also the first car to use Gorilla Glass, commonly employed on smartphone touchscreens. The chemical treatment process used in producing Gorilla Glass means that the i8’s windows are just 1.4mm thick and lighter than on regular car’s.

Amongst the tech features are full LED headlights, optional laser headlights, flip-up doors, automatic emergency calling, surround view cameras, traffic sign recognition, internet connectivity, head-up display, automatic high beams, and active cruise control.


Length: 4,689mm
Width: 1,942mm
Height: 1,293mm
Wheelbase: 2,800mm

Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]