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BMW’s i range was officially launched in New Zealand last night at the brand’s first BMW i dealership at Team McMillan BMW in Auckland. The first BMW i dealership in the country will be the only place prospective buyers can see BMW’s i cars on display though other BMW dealerships across the country can take orders of the i cars.

Both the i3 RE-EV hatchback and the i8 hybrid sports cars were simultaneously launched with the opening of the new showroom. The i3 available in New Zealand is the range-extender version which is an optional extra in other markets. NZ i3s come with a $83,500 driveaway price. For that you get one of the most futuristic cars on sale at the moment, futuristic not just in the way it looks but with all the tech and engineering behind it.

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The i3 is a pure electric vehicle with batteries powering an electric motor which drives the rear-wheels, yes even though this saves the world by emitting zero emissions it’s still a true blue rear-wheel drive BMW. The cherry on the cake is the small 650cc 2-cylinder range extender that essentially acts as an on-board generator to power the electric motors should the batteries run out of juice. That gives the i3 a range of 340km. Performance is pretty good too with a claimed 0-100 km/h time of just 7.9 seconds! Suddenly the $70k Holden Volt looks even more overpriced.

If you’d prefer something a bit faster and with the ability to drop jaws everywhere you go then perhaps the BMW i8 might tickle your fancy. This has been the car that’s won the world’s motoring press over and some. Even some of the most die hard petrosexuals in the world are fans of this and it’s easy to see why. For a start just look at it. Nothing else this side of the Millennium Falcon looks so high-tech and futuristic. It may be a car, something that was invented in the late 19th Century, but the i8 looks straight towards the future.

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Powering the i8 is a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine, similar to the one you get in the new Mini Cooper. Of course it’s been tuned to develop a healthy 247bhp and drives the rear wheels. Mated to this is an electric motor which drives the front wheels, making this a four-wheel drive sports car. That gives the i8 a range of around 600km. Combined power is 360bhp and many torques. 0-100 km/h is over and done with in 4.4 seconds. That’s Porsche 911 territory of performance, which is very appropriate given its Porsche 911 territory price tag. The i8 will start from a $278,000. That’s a lot of money by anyone’s standards and costs more than some serious metal including the 911 Carrera S ($234k), Audi R8 V8 ($245k), and Jaguar F-Type R Coupe ($185k).

Then again, taking all the tech the i8 has on board plus those killer concept car looks and suddenly it makes everything else look a bit old fashioned in comparison. Saving the world isn’t cheap but at least with an i8 the future looks bright. Literally, this has laser headlights. Let’s also not forget the i8 is made from fancy carbon-reinforced plastic and has butterfly wing doors. Its doors open like a McLaren 650S and those cost almost twice as much as an i8. And speaking of McLaren, the i8 is a hybrid sports car. The only other hybrid supercars available at the moment are the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder, and LaFerrari, all three of which cost considerably more than $278,000.

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So, $278,000 for a mid-engined, four seater, BMW sports car with futuristic looks, enough technology to shame some Silicone Valley companies, and doors that go up? You could almost say it’s a bargain. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to get a lotto ticket…

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