The BMW i8 is not new, but when you find one in a black and orange combo, it’s definitely worth the experience – even driving around Knightsbridge to show off a little.
I have seen the BMW i8 around for a while now, and its futuristic look never gets old for me. The silhouette is fantastic with intricate cut-outs, curves and angles that just begs for pictures to be taken as much as possible. When its butterfly doors open up, onlookers can’t help but get their smartphones out to take snaps.
The BMW i8’s design is one of the best there is, it’s futuristic, to say the least
Its futuristic design speaks for itself. The butterfly doors make it look like something that’s not meant to be here yet, the tail lights are sexy beyond words can describe. It’s one of the few concept cars that’s made it into production and I love it.
It’s lightweight at just 1,485kg thanks to the mix of what BWM calls Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) and aluminium to keep things gliding. Designed to be aerodynamically advance for speed and stability, there’s no spoiler present here, but gaps shaped to allow airflow.
The futuristic look doesn’t carry on inside, though, as BMW still want the i8 to be true to BMW’s design DNA. The interior is a mix of what you’d find in the M2 with a centre display big enough for a split screen to view media and maps at the same time – it’s bright and can be viewed no matter where you’re looking at it from – and the new 7 series.
The instrument cluster is great too; it’s easy to see what speed you’re travelling at and it’s blue backlit by default until you switch to sports mode. The gear stick looks a little like that of the 7 series and you can see carbon fibre in various places around the car. I also like the mood lighting and let’s not forget the HUD too for showing speed, direction and shows what track you’re playing.
Overall, the i8 should definitely get awards for its exteriors but also an award for the least spacious car out there.
A great example of a combustion engine and electric motors working together in harmony
The i8 combines electric motors and a petrol engine to put performance and economy to good use. BMW says you can get a combined MPG of about 134 miles, and although I didn’t drive it long enough to achieve that, it still delivered about 40mpg out and about the city.
When it comes to speed, the i8 can do 0 to 60 in just 4.4 seconds, not the fastest when it comes to supercars, or compared to the Honda NSX, but it has enough torque to make that 0 to 60 feel like it happened in 3 seconds. There’s a 1.5 litre 3 cylinder engine (228 bhp) out back, and a 96kw Electric Motor (129 bhp) on the front, dishing out a combined 357bhp of power.
With a top speed of 155mph, it’s not as much as that of the NSX, but let’s face it, in the UK or most roads, you will never get to do 120mph let alone 190 or 150 for that matter. The i8 is not designed to be a track car either as it’s so safe on the road and corners, you can’t drift it, but you can still push it.
The i8 sounds great when you push its automatic gear lever to the left into sports mode to unleash its true power. Although it uses a tuned turbo engine from a Mini and a 3 cylinder engine, BWM has done some clever trickery ( engine + artificially engineered noise from the speakers) here to make it sound like it’s a bigger engine than it is – and I like it.
Like I was saying before, the i8 is not designed to be a Ferrari or a full supercar; it comes with various drive modes to suit your mood and some to allow you to drive for longer (economy) – there’s the comfort, eco pro, sport and eDrive drive modes.
Push the eDrive button and you get 100% electric power which will give you just 22 miles range, great for those in the city and if you put it in sports mode, it charges the batteries as you drive. In the COMFORT mode with eDrive, the BMW i8 drives without support from the combustion engine until the battery is almost exhausted.
Purely electrical driving at speeds of up to 75mph is possible with eDrive. If the button isn’t pressed the combustion engine is activated at 35mph. The eDrive button does all the fuel saving magic so you can have the maximum range possible, although you’ll miss the fun of driving faster with a stiff suspension and slightly tougher steering.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with the i8, it’s fun to drive, doesn’t cost a lot to run in terms of fuel consumption even when I put it in sports mode on the motorway. It turns heads everywhere I drove it, even other drivers give me some sort of pass when coming out of juncions or when I needed to cut in.
If I have any complaints, it would be the space or the lack thereof. As the driver and the passenger, leg room is no issue at all but when you try to get someone in the back seat, you will struggle – I think it’s made for pets. The boot is also very small, I could hardly fit more than a hold-all bag in there.
For the drivers who likes to lean their shoulders on the window, the glass doesn’t fully go down and the cool door doesn’t make it gracious getting in and out of the car. Having said that, I can’t wait to see the next iteration of the i8.