I've never really understood the expression, "If you love somebody, set them free." It's counterintuitive. But it perhaps best explains why I've decided to leave the job I love and the friends I work with in order to try something new.

I've been with the company for ten years. They kindly took in a damp Englishman and kept him warm in the Californian sun. My first tenure was oneurotuner for eight years, followed by the last two years as the Editor of european car.

It's been a huge honor to run these esteemed titles and I'm going to miss the fast cars in exotic locations, as well as the great team of people I've worked with. Not just the current people, but everybody I've been fortunate enough to work with over the past ten years - thanks for all your help and support.

I'm not leaving the industry altogether, but I'll be working behind the scenes with some of the leading brands. I also hope to continue contributing to the magazine and website in the future, so you're not quite rid of me completely!

Compiling this issue made the decision even harder because it represented two of my most memorable events. Both involved very fast cars in exotic locations.

The standout was the new M3 and M4. Flinging these cars through some of the best curves in Portugal made me question my sanity for wanting to leave. You can read my review in this issue, but BMW has certainly created another benchmark.

The same company is on a roll because we also got to drive the new i8 plug-in hybrid. We reviewed it in this issue and also picked up a comparison test against the Porsche 911. We felt it was important enough to run both stories in the same issue, so apologies for a slight overlap in the text.

That said, the i8 could be one of the most important vehicles of the decade because it represents the first "affordable" hybrid sports car from a mainstream manufacturer, backed up by the same warranty and dealer network as any conventional BMW.

The Germans put their full design, engineering, development and retail infrastructure behind this car to ensure the customer has a trouble-free experience. Only time will tell if it's as good as our first impressions suggest. They seem to have anticipated all the potential pitfalls - learning a great deal from the electric Mini and 1 Series experiments that clearly garnered a great deal of information.

Key to the car's success is its holistic approach - designing it from the ground up as a hybrid, as opposed to converting an existing architecture. With a clean sheet of paper, BMW ensured the car was first lightweight with its carbon fiber and aluminum construction. This would compensate for the heavy batteries that were mounted low to help with weight transfer. They also found a tiny three-cylinder motor that could sip fuel, keep weight low and generate enough turbo power to get the i8 moving rapidly.

Zero-to-60mph in 4.2sec is impressive for any vehicle, and the fact it matches the Carrera 4 can't be a coincidence.

The i8 isn't the ultimate sports car - it can't compete with the McLaren P1 or Porsche 918, and was never intended to. But it will offer an alternative to customers who might otherwise buy a 911 or R8, for example.

From our point of view, we were happy to drive a vehicle capable of returning previously unimaginable fuel consumption figures that was stylish to look at and fun to drive. We all gave a collective sigh of relief when we realized the future could be more i8 and less Prius.

Greg Emmerson
Editor
european.car@sorc.com

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