You could easily imagine the BMW i8 coming straight off a sci-fi film set, especially as it rolls past you without making a sound – whisper quiet electricity can push the i8 up to 75 MPH if you want it to, and the gas engine is smaller than some motorcycles – just 1.5 liters of three-cylinder goodness, but what else does the i8 offer?
The Numbers Game
|Contents||Let’s start off with a few simple numbers: 0 – 60 in 4.2 seconds, up to 330 mile range, 357 BHP 420 lb/ft of torque, 15 miles pure electric range, 76 MPGe, 3,484 lbs and 0.95g cornering force.
Those numbers paint a pretty good description of what you may expect from the i8, but let’s drill down a little further.
Tech Specs of 2017 BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid
The BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid, it has a little TwinPower Turbo 1.5 liter three-cylinder gas motor driving the rear axle and a 7.1 kWh electric motor driving the front wheels. When combined, the maximum power is 357 BHP and 420 lb/ft of torque – it feels like a fast Porsche 911 under max acceleration. Official 0 – 60 MPH time is 4.2 seconds, but many road tests are reporting figures just slightly under that – around 4.0 seconds and it will go on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 MPH. So it appears as though the performance matches the looks.
BMW are shouting that the i8 will do 76 MPGe, but in reality, that figure relates to electric power only, which will only get you 15 miles further down the road – the real figure here is about 38 MPGe – which is what you’ll get as an average on a daily drive using the mixture of hybrid gasoline and electric. That’s still not a bad economy figure – for a 357 BHP sportscar.
There are four modes for driving, all switchable using the Driving Experience Control switch located on the center console: Comfort (standard) is a balance of sporty performance and fuel-efficiency, Sport is for maximum performance, Eco Pro delivers a more efficient and optimized driving experience and then we have eDrive – pure electric power.
Yes it’s true – the 2017 BMW i8 does indeed use laser technology, but probably not as you’d expect it to. It has taken BMW a couple of years to get it through legislation, and even then, there are caveats, but BMW now use lasers to ‘excite’ phosphorous to give an ultimate bright white light on main beam.
They say it is 1000 times more intense than LED lighting, but … it’s only activated above 43 MPH and even then, you’d need to find a further $6,300 on top of the asking price – yes, that’s right – a $6,000+ lighting option. For the regular real world drivers, LED lighting is standard and works at all speeds!
BMW i8 Efficient Dynamics
The BMW i8 incorporates EfficientDynamic Technology which allows the vents to open and close to offer cooling, further reduce the drag and improve overall aerodynamic efficiency; BMW say that the designers of the i8 are dedicated to reducing drag.
We also have front ‘Air Curtains’, the point of which is to channel airflow through the rear vents to cool the TwinPower Turbo engine. All sounds good to us.
BMW have gone to great lengths to make the i8 perform as well as it looks, from the two-part structure that uses Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) and aluminum, the EfficientDynamic aerodynamics and the near perfect 50:50 weight distribution split. It really does seem as though more thought has gone into it rather than just “let’s stick an electric motor in there somewhere and call it a hybrid” that seems to be the recipe for some manufacturers.
Thanks to the aero efficiency (including a rear wing that adds significant downforce), the i8 can generate almost a whole ‘G’ of cornering force – on a regular sportscar or muscle car, that would be reasonable, but given the i8 uses super-skinny tires, that’s a testament to the aero efficiency – it means that mechanical grip is at a minimum.
The Rest of It
Technically, the i8 is a four-seater, but if you can fit more than a bag of groceries in the back, you’re doing better than us. Don’t buy the i8 if you’re needing more than two seats – it just won’t work for you.
BMW are offering some bizarrely named packages with the i8: Mega World, Giga World, Tera World and Pure Impulse Experience.
Let’s discount the Pure Impulse Experience – that really is just marketing nonsense like corporate hospitality, so what are the other three?
Mega World is (according to BMW) “the perfect embodiment of the future of sport luxury, using recycled and contrasting materials”, Giga World is elegant sportiness with a choice of White or Black accents (yay!) and Tera World incorporates premium, naturally tanned leather and BMW i blue accents! How can you resist?
The 2017 BMW i8 is available right now, the starting price is $140,700 plus taxes.
|2017 BMW i8|
|Engine type||Turbocharged DOHC 12V I3; 2 electric motors|
|Power/torque||228 HP (236 ft-lb) engine plus rear AC motor, 129 HP (184 lb-ft) front AC motor; 357 HP (420 lb-ft) combined|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic; 2-speed automatic for front engine|
|Passenger volume||81 cu ft|
|Cargo volume||5 cu ft|
|Top speed||156 mph (limited)|
|PRICE RANGE: $142,000-$152,000 (est)|
|Competitors: Tesla Model S|