BMW's "sportscar of the future" is about to begin customer deliveries. The i8 is a plug-in hybrid with a short fully electric range, 112 miles per gallon hybrid efficiency and a very feisty, 357 horsepower, all wheel drive sports mode that fires it to 60 mph in four and a half seconds. It's a very clever piece of engineering and a beautiful piece of futurist auto art – a stepping stone between the oil age and the electric future. Take a closer look in our huge photo gallery and video overview.

According to MyTravelCost, Saudis can still buy petrol for less than 80 US cents per gallon. Americans likewise enjoy some of the cheapest in the Western world at US$3.62 per liter. Step into Europe and you can more or less instantly double that figure, and it’s well on the way to triple that in Germany and Norway.

So, however much Americans might be feeling the effects of rising gas prices, Europeans have been hit harder and for longer. And since the laser headlights and scissor doors.

BMW claims the i8 is the car of the future – but in reality I think it’s the cutting edge car of today. We’re living in a strange transitional age where fully electric vehicles promise insane performance, usable range and convenient charging times, but battery technology isn’t quite there yet. The i8 hybrid is an astonishing technical achievement and an extremely cool car; it straddles the gap between the gasoline age and the electric future with a sense of real fun and excitement. It integrates its technologies in a way that is both visible and seamless to the driver.

But at the end of the day, it’s a very clever solution to a problem that simply shouldn’t exist in 10 or 20 years.