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2008 BMW M3 Base Coupe 2-Door
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Auto blogMon, 19 Aug 2013 09:29:00 EST
It's a tragic coincidence that on the same weekend the BMW M4 Coupe Concept was introduced in Monterey, one of the men most integral to BMW's M and Motorsports divisions, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, was killed in England. Kalbfell, a vintage motorcycle enthusiast, was set to compete in the Lansdowne Classic Series at Brands Hatch and had an accident during a practice session. After going wide at Druids Corner and falling, he was hit by a competitor following close behind and died of his injuries after being transported to hospital.
Kalbfell, an engineer, began his career at BMW in 1977 in the communications department; a decade later he was chairman of BMW M GmbH, overseeing development of some of the cars responsible for the myth of M. In 1994 he was named chairman of BMW Motorsport, and his cap full of feathers includes getting the BMW V12 into the McLaren F1, getting the BMW V8 into two Morgan cars, along with developing BMW's Formula One engine and return to the sport. Not incidentally, he also assumed leadership of Project Rolls-Royce after BMW bought the British marque in 1998, which means he oversaw the Goodwood factory upfit and the creation of the Phantom.
He left Rolls-Royce for a brief stint at Fiat, heading Alfa Romeo and Maserati, then went into consulting for clients like Lotus and Paragon, who built the Artega GT. As Autocar notes, Kalbfell "had an abiding sense that customers needed to be attracted to cars by their aura and reputation, not just their engineering." He will be missed.
If you were to plot the general opinion about hybrids since their introduction among auto enthusiasts, the resulting graph would likely be shaped somewhat like a "V." In the beginning interest was high, simply due the novelty of these new powertrains, then the line would gradually fall as the models got the stereotype of being boring commuters. Today, though, things might be back on the upswing. Vehicles like the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 and BMW i8 are showing that a hybrid doesn't have to be synonymous for dull. In its latest video, Xcar Films aims to find out if BMW's electrified sports coupe actually earns the brand's old moniker as the ultimate driving machine.
While the focus here is on what the i8 is like behind the wheel, one of the main highlights for the viewer is the interesting ways that Xcar shoots the BMW. It's not necessarily a beautiful vehicle, but seeing it in motion reveals all sorts of little intricacies that still photos don't pick up. For example, our eye catches the flying buttresses and little crevices scooped out of the corners when we get a look at the rear. It's just a fun car to look at.
With its 1.5-liter, turbocharged, three-cylinder engine and electric motor, the i8 positions itself as the future of automotive performance. But its intriguing looks and cutting-edge use of carbon fiber would be wasted if the coupe didn't drive well. We won't spoil the final verdict, though, you'll have to watch the video above.
The other day we brought you a report from Reuters, which quoted BMW's global sales chief Ian Robertson as saying that the Bavarian automaker had already sold out the entire year's production run of its new i8. Impressive, sure, but perhaps not all that unusual for a groundbreaking new sportscar from a major automaker, of which only limited quantities are typically built. But is the i8 really sold out?
Our compatriots at Car and Driver chased down the story and report that Robertson's claims aren't exactly accurate. According to C/D, the numbers are based on sales projections, not actual orders taken. So while BMW may build upwards of 1,900 i8 coupes next year and over 5,000 in 2015, and while they're all expected to sell, that doesn't mean that it's too late to get your order in. That is, assuming you have the $135k on hand and don't mind getting just three cylinders back in return.