The new BMW i8 is the sports car of the future no doubt. The car is daring, exotic and state of the art in just about every way you might judge it. BMW released the stunning concept in 2009 at the height of the recession. Now, some five years later, the production version has arrived.
The BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid sports car that combines high performance with low fuel consumption. By combining a small yet powerful petrol engine with an electric motor and large battery pack, BMW has been able to build a sports car that could potentially cost a tiny amount to run.
There are three modes in which you can drive the i8:
- The default hybrid setting calculates the most efficient balance between petrol and electric power.
- Select Sport and it combines the two to produce the best performance.
- Press the eDrive button and you can drive on electric power alone for up to 22 miles, although about 15 miles is a more realistic expectation.
Following are its striking specifications studied carefully:
- The i8 is a two-plus-two with two proper seats in the front, there are two perches behind that are sneaky.
- The very small boot at the back of the car cannot store more than a shopping bag.
- The fancy doors open like a butterfly’s wings and don’t offer any additional storage.
- A very light carbon-fiber reinforced plastic passenger cell, gives the impression of being in a race car. Other materials used in the i8 include aluminum and magnesium, all in a bid to make it as light as possible to compensate for the weight of the batteries that run down the centre of the car from front to rear.
- The steering is light, power delivery is instant and there’s no shortage of grip.
- On the downside, rear visibility is restricted by the small screen and tiny rear windows, and the wide pillars either side of the windscreen will have you craning your neck when trying to pull out of junctions.
- The bodywork of the i8 is also a fair bit wider at the back than it is at the front, all of which makes parking slightly tricky, even with the aid of sensors and a rear-view camera.
- It is turbocharged to produce 228bhp and combined with a 129bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels (making the i8 all-wheel drive).
- The car can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds, and has a top speed limited to 155mph.
- Battery warranty lasts for eight years or 100,000-mile warranty, designed to provide peace of mind for owners investing in this relatively new technology. Due to having few moving parts, electric motors also tend to be very durable.
- The i8’s three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty is better than that offered by rival Porsche, which covers its cars for just two years.
- This 155mph machine returns 134.5mpg, meaning it is more economical than most other cars on sale.
- Drive the i8 gently and 60mpg is possible, while in everyday use you’ll still be able to top 40mpg.
- There’s also the option of using electric power alone, with an 80 per cent charge taking about three hours from a domestic socket, or two hours from a BMW wallbox.
- The car comes with CO2 emissions of just 49g/km in EU tests.
- Servicing costs will be low, plus the bumpers have been designed to absorb impacts up to 2.5mph without damage, which could save from costly repairs resulting from car park mishaps.
- It features front, side and curtain airbags, plus a very strong central section in which occupants sit, meaning it should stand up well in the event of a collision. Additionally, the battery is immediately shut down if the car is in a crash.
- BMW also offers a range of safety systems under its Driver Assistant options, including cameras that can detect pedestrians and slow the car to avoid hitting them at speeds between 10-35mph.
- At higher speeds the i8’s safety systems can also recognize other cars travelling in the same direction, and apply the brakes if it senses an impact is imminent.
- The two large display screens, air-conditioning, automatically folding mirrors, heated seats, parking sensors and satnav.
- The car only weighs 3,274. This is probably one of the main reasons why the car starts at $135,000.
- The center console is at least a foot in diameter.The result of all this is that the i8 feels electrically fast, is supremely responsive and even sounds good thanks to the best bits of the engine sound being amplified through the car’s speakers.
It’s a fantastic car and foreshadows a future where electric motors and gas engines work together to provide countless thrills. Half of the fun of being in an i8 is seeing the reaction it gets from the public. The i8’s engine whirls like a sci-fi spaceship and the future will be thrilling.