Dream Drive: the BMW i8
"Costing under £105,000, the i8 gobbles up the standard 0-62 mph benchmark in 4.4 seconds without even waking the baby in one of the two tiny seats at the back, and most of us would be satisfied with its 155mph top end."
For those of us brought up on a motoring diet of the standard combustion engine, sweet smelling fumes, horsepower, noise, and drop dead gorgeous looks, the BMW i8 seems a bit of a challenge at first. It looks amazing, of course, but being electric much of the time you can’t hear it. For a supercar equivalent, that is a bit of a problem.
Set it to Sport mode though, and despite the artificial technological acoustics, the i8 gives you the aural adrenaline every car addict needs, combined with gobsmacking performance. What’s more, in busy town traffic people smile at you and warm to your environmentally conscious self. It has the ‘Wow! Look at that!’ factor, but the difference between you and any other pilot of Italian exotica is your green credentials.
It looks striking in bright orange – and wins much public adoration as a result. The best method of entry is to lower your bum in first, and legs after. Once seated in the cabin, you sit low yet surprisingly comfortably, those up and over doors making entry and exit a doddle. Inside it’s a wonderful ergonomic combination of technology, sophistication, style, and functionality. You could sit in this car and admire it all day; it is an experience to lift your mood.
Being a rather visual sensation on the outside too, you will often have an audience. It’s a treat to see the puzzled look on people’s faces when you drive away…. in silence! Come on, rev it, mate! Instead you drift away like a milk float.
Yet if this is the way supercar production is to go the BMW i8 is an amazing stroke of genius, and a massive wake up call to the capabilities of modern car technology. Strictly speaking, being a hybrid it is engine dependent of course. There’s a 1.5cc 3 cylinder turbo engine transversely mounted ahead of the rear wheels; that puts out some 231 bhp, and a 131 bhp electric motor up front completes the power combination. You can do the sums, whilst both combine into a tidy four-wheel drive package. You can achieve up to 15 miles on electric drive fully charged, and as Sport mode recharges the battery, in four days of testing mostly set to Sport we had no need to plug it in for charging.
You can have an ‘everyday’ supercar these days. The boot is tiny but good enough for compact luggage for two. Also it’s a doddle to drive, to park, to run around town in, and then top it all with a blistering drive on your favourite roads to exploit its stonking performance.
Costing under £105,000, the i8 gobbles up the standard 0-62 mph benchmark in 4.4 seconds without even waking the baby in one of the two tiny seats at the back, and most of us would be satisfied with its 155mph top end.
Hold your breath for even a bit longer, for the clever hybrid combination achieves an average 113 mpg with exceptional CO2 emissions of only 49g.
And so what’s the catch? We can’t find one; the i8 is the supercar of the future. It’s five stars for BMW with this one, and our lack of initial excitement must eat two dollops of humble pie.
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