The BMW i8 has been around since the 2015 model year, but I’ve just recently had the chance to get behind the wheel. In fact, I had an entire week to play with it, driving it to mundane places like the grocery store and the parent pickup line at the kiddo’s school. As you might imagine, the i8 garnered plenty of attention wherever it went. And why not? It’s the sexiest machine in BMW’s current lineup and just as exotic as anything from Lamborghini or Ferrari. Yet under its Sophisto Grey paint and carbon fiber reinforced plastic body lies some of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced drivetrain components this side of Doc Brown’s DMC DeLorean and its Mr. Fusion nuclear reactor.
The i8, along with its less athletically inclined brother, the i3, are the current members of BMW’s i Division. As BMW’s M Division is committed to high performance vehicles, the i Division is all about electrification. For the time being, the i Division has concentrated on gasoline-electric hybrids, combining the best of both worlds into an amalgamation of efficiency and sportiness while limiting the amount of gasoline needed. Holistically, the BMW i8 lives up to its hype, delivering a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds, a top speed of 155 mph, an EPA-estimated 76 MPGe, and a combined rating of 28 mpg when the gasoline three-cylinder kicks on. But like most cutting-edge technology and exotic supercars, the everyday experience can be a bit compromised and challenging.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
Alright, we all know how it looks and it is impressive. It doesn’t go mad like other super cars but this one rather looks premium and sophisticated. Something that James Bond would have done on a bat mobile. The black car does stand out and it is super low in height. What i like is this electric super car isn’t just cool but it has the rich man’s appeal. I’m out of adjectives to describe this car. I like how BMW has taken a different approach from the Italian and Scandinavian super cars. The German way of looking appealing.
It seems to have arrived from the future. Some cars define the future and one of them was the DeLorean D12, which even today with its Steel body colour looks so cool to own. The BMW i8 could look stylish even after 30 years from now. the head lamps, the scissor doors, the gap at the rear. Everything seems to be made as per the designers instructions. There won’t have been any of the ergonomics or interior space designer interrupting. This car would have given him his break! The change from having all the cars with the same kidney grille at the front and a similar rear on all sedans and crossovers. There is a plug-in charger, I won’t reckon any of the owners will bother to use it unless they realise that this adds on additional torque.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
Getting in and out of the car is a supremely tricky affair. The doors open up wide but the seats are placed far too below, much lower than the running board too. Thus, you need to slide yourself inside. Getting out is a bit more difficult though and you will have to wriggle yourself out. However, once you’re seated comfortably, you’ll notice seats that the seats are super! They are extremely supportive for the back as well as under thighs. The rear seats are meant for children but space is too less and people might actually use them to store some luggage. The steering wheel feels great to hold too. The cabin itself is pretty compact and things fall in place easily. Quality is on par with other BMWs and the cabin feels special, though not as dramatic as the exteriors.
The dashboard has a nice asymmetrical layout and gets some blue accents. You get features like Park Distance Control for front and rear, heads up display, Driving Assistant package ad 4-side top view and side view cameras with object recognition. You also get a 22 cm screen for the instrument cluster along with another 26 cm screen for the iDrive infotainment system. There’s a 360W Harman Kardon audio system with 11 speakers too. The boot is very compact and it can hold just 154-litres of cargo.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The automaker has gifted it with an electric motor and a highly powerful 1.5-litre petrol drive-train. Its electric motor has a gross capacity of 7.1 kWh, which is capable of producing a peak power of 128bhp, along with a max torque of 250Nm. This motor is paired to a 2-speed synchro switching steptronic transmission gearbox that powers the front wheels. The rear section houses a 1.5-litre petrol mill that is further incorporated with a twinpower turbo charging unit. It comprises of 3-cylinders and twelve valves, which displaces 1500cc. This power plant is also integrated with a multi-point fuel injection system for better efficiency and minimized fuel consumption. It has the abilityFETY ; to churn out a peak power of 231bhp at 5800rpm in combination with a hammering torque output of 320Nm at just 3700rpm. This car maker has skillfully paired it to a 6-speed automatic transmission gearbox that delivers torque output to the rear wheels. On the other hand, both the power-trains together develops a maximum power of 362bhp that yields in a peak torque output of 570Nm, which is quite impressive.
This luxury car comes with a combination of an electric motor and a twin-power turbo petrol train. It takes more than two hours for lithium battery to get fully charged, and when it does, the car can deliver mileage of 37 kilometers. On the other hand, its rear axle is loaded with a 1499cc petrol motor that is integrated with multi-point fuel injection technology. It works in combination with the electric motor to deliver an impressive mileage of 47.45 Kmpl, which is quite impressive. The car comes with a maximum mileage range of 600 kilometers (combined range).Its electric motor comes with a gross capacity of 7.1 kWh, giving a max power of 128bhp and a peak torque of 250Nm. It also has a twin-power turbo-charging unit that enables a commanding power of 231bhp and a torque of 320Nm, which is remarkable.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
On the road, the 2017 BMW i8 feels surprisingly friendly thanks to a combination of smoothly powerful acceleration and predictable braking without any artificial feel. The speed comes on in a smooth and linear fashion as the electric motor’s instant torque fills in gaps in the power curve while the turbocharged gasoline engine is getting up to speed. Acceleration under full throttle is nothing less than impressive.
Driving the i8 also has a distinctly aural component. Under pure battery power, the silence is broken only by the turbine-like whine of the electric motor. Step on the accelerator hard enough to bring the gasoline engine online and specially designed engine sounds emanate from the rear audio speakers (even if the audio system itself is off), creating an enhanced auditory experience. It’s kind of fake, but it sounds great.
Handling is likewise exceptional, thanks in part to the car’s equally balanced weight distribution and low center of gravity. The adjustable suspension allows you to dial up the firmer Sport settings for tackling a winding stretch of road. Around town you’ll want to use the standard setting in everyday motoring because Sport mode can be downright harsh on poor quality pavement.
The 2017 BMW i8’s list of standard safety features includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard are BMW Assist emergency communications (includes automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance) as well as parking sensors and an around-view camera system.
The BMW i8 is not the perfect sportscar — others will thrill you more. Nor is it the perfect eco-mobility solution — you have to be quite controlled with your driving to achieve those amazing claimed range figures. But it is a superb combination of the two, and it’s wrapped in an incredibly desirable and futuristic package. What’s more, these days being environmentally conscious is very fashionable, and what better way to make a statement than with a sexy hybrid sportscar. For all its high tech though, at Rs 2.29 crore (ex-showroom, all-India), it is very expensive, especially when you consider that for the same money, you could get a lot more performance (not to mention bigger thrills) in the form of a Jaguar F-type R, Porsche 911 Turbo or an Audi R8 V10. Still, there’s no doubt, that for a small few, this car’s futuristic styling, techie appeal and green credentials, will be a big draw.