AS BMW HYBRID claims its new BMW Sports Car I8 blends hybrid frugality with traditional sports car enjoyment. Steve Sutcliffe tests those claims on the very best driving roads that Scotland has to offer.
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Three pistons combusting internally, a dash of electrons and lots of aluminum and carbon dietary fiber are the i8’s main ingredients. Its 357-hp crossbreed powertrain drives all four wheels; in our palms, the i8 hit sixty mph in 4. 0 seconds and saw 38 MPGe on our 200-mile test run. The poised chassis and sharp steerage are good fun, but eco-friendly tires and regenerative braking hinder performance. Familiar controls nestle in a plush cabin; the i8’s eye-catching styling is right out of any sci-fi movie.
The BMW i8 is comfortable in its own amazing skin. It needs to be. It looks like a buttressed spaceship trimmed with extraterrestrial blue and black. If the wheels were spat-covered, it’d be easy to convince people it can actually levitating on the pride of Munich. Every person who catches a glimpse locks eyes on it, and you don’t have to be clairvoyant to read pedestrians’ thoughts, which mainly boil down to, “What the…? ”
Bending in and under the dihedral doors is an event, every time. Before you fall into the vehicle, you must first hoist yourself within the tall, wide aspect sills. Graceful entries and exits are not an option, and after a weekend of running program errands, we found this raises questions about daily drivability. But then, like a hat worn to the Kentucky Derby, this car is all about making assertions. For some, announcing one’s arrival is a priority that overshadows any considered hassle. And this plug-in hybrid makes a greener declaration than any Audi R8, McLaren 570S, or Porsche 911.
Aside from sketching all the stares, this car can see well, too. Or rather, its car owner can because this is the first car in the U. S. outfitted with laser headlights–yes, laserlight beams, but not quite actually, Dr. Evil. Lasers are being used internally, nevertheless the pure-white light made by laser-excited phosphorous is safe for onset motorists. BMW finally received federal (NHTSA and FDA) approval to offer these lights, a $6300 approach to the high-beams that are 1000 times more powerful than LEDs. These new lights are even more energy-efficient than LEDs, nevertheless they are merely for use as a supplemental high-beam that activates above 43 with; the regular low-beams and the high-beams below 43 mph are LEDs. Although the U. S. -approved laser high-beams are less blue and less powerful than those are available Europe (where they’re also active, dimming out a place when the car detects onset traffic), they’re still turn-night-into-day, we-have-a-prison-break bright. We see why they operate solely at higher speeds.
Making America i8
A Oughout. S. -spec i8. (The car BMW loaned us all was obviously a 2016 model, but nothing significant changes for 2017 except the addition of a Protonic Reddish Edition; it swaps the cool blue/black color structure on our test car for an even more noticeable, Columbus, Ohio-friendly red/gray combination. ) Our previous stories, including an instrumented test and an attribute, have been based on drives in European cars. It was our first chance to meter the electricity going into the automobile so that we can report an observed fuel-economy figure, which we’ve only been able to estimate in the past. Including all the charges, we proportioned 33 MPGe. While this may appear low for a three-cylinder hybrid, know that the EPA connects 28- and 29-mpg figures to the i8’s standard city and highway ratings, which are achieved when the car is operating as a regular hybrid. Simply when using the relatively small 7. 1-kWh lithium ion battery pack alone, what the EPA calls “charge-depleting” mode, does the i8 strategy its EPA electricity-plus-gasoline put together rating of 76 MPGe, and even then just for short stints. The i8 averaged 38 MPGe on this 200-mile, 75-mph highway economy test, the first sixteen miles of which were completed using only electric drive.
The i8’s three resources of power–a mid-mounted 228-hp turbo inline-three and AC motor and a more powerful 129-hp AC motor upward front–are the same as in the European car, but this federalized i8 weighed 3484 pounds, about 100 more than either of some other previously tested automobiles. Thus, it wasn’t quite as quick, with release control enabling a zero-to-60-mph time of 4. 0 seconds (compared with 3. 6 and 3. 8 for the European examples) and the vehicle dusting off a quarter-mile in 12. 5 seconds (down from twelve. 1 and 12. 4). Regardless, the thing accelerates like a solid-fuel explode when eBoost mode is engaged by pressing the accelerator pedal through the kickdown switch. It gives the sort of sustained acceleration we have experienced in Porsche 911 Turbos.
Peaceful Star Cruiser
Driven without aggression, the i8 can feel appliancelike, which we mean with no disrespect–few cars that perform this well are so amenable to gentle cruising. The i8 is capable of long-winding through traffic like an common family sedan, at the very least to the extent that those gaping at it allow. There’s great presence outward, considering how low the car is, so maneuvering around the gawkers is easy. The thin Bridgestone Potenza S001 auto tires, 215/45R-20 in front and 245/40R-20 in back, avoid hum on the freeway the way the broad meats do on, say, a Chevy Corvette. The i8 generates 72 decibels of noise at 70 mph–not luxury-sedan quiet but 4 decibels quieter than what we measured in the Corvette Grand Sport. Four decibels might seem to be like a tiny difference, but sound measurements reside on an exponential scale, and the BMW’s cruising sound is not only much quieter but of the more nice character.
Being a connect to hybrid, the i8’s entrance electric motor is strong enough to propel the vehicle all by its forlorn. In the Normal driving mode, most movement commences with only the front motor functioning. Occasionally, the three-cylinder engine felt slow to punch in and deliver the intersection-clearing thrust i was seeking. Silently creeping into lanes of cross-traffic can boost concerns with unprepared people. Moving the shifter over to Sport mode keeps the engine fired besides making gap-shooting feel less eventful.
There are four chairs, but the rears are just laughable pads more appropriate to cushion a football-stadium bench than to transport friends in a $150, 500 car, and the space is itself hospitable only for small children. The front seats, however, are extremely comfortable, firm, and supportive in all the right spots to allow long days in the saddle, even though lack the bolstering to check the 0. 95 g that the car can generate in corners. The buckets are mounted deep in a well, so there’s plenty of body structure to brace oneself against. The Corvette for half the cash will trot away from an i8 on a good road, but we suspect there is more to uncork in the i8’s carbon-fiber-and-aluminum chassis. We’re looking forward to a mid-term update or second-generation model with performance that (we hope) better matches the concept-car seems of the i8.
Apart from the laser headlights, our test car had but one option, called Giga World. No, it isn’t a Glenn Quagmire-inspired salute to Seth McFarlane, it’s simply a full-leather interior and the aforementioned LED headlights (projector beams are standard kit). For $2000 it seems well worth the investment. The next step up, Tera World, costs $4500 and includes frivolities such as a leather engine cover, but once you’ve signed up to spend this much money it may appear to be small change for a few more bragging points.
Because with many other BMWs of late, the steering seems light and the pizza-cutter front tires are quick to turn, but we are going to gluttons for steering feel–we want a lot more. Chevrolet (Camaro), Cadillac (ATS, CTS), and Porsche (every one of them) have found life in electrically assisted power steering; there is no reason BMW can’t do it. Few the light steering with brakes that caused it to be a struggle to make smooth stops, particularly in slower city traffic, and it’s tough to rank the plug i8 against traditional sports activities cars–among alternatives, only the faster, costlier Acura NSX offers hybrid power, and it has a much smaller battery and no plug-in recharging option. Luckily, the style statement the i8 makes is authoritative enough to argue it really resides in a class of one.
New BMW Sports Car I8 Review By AutoExpress:
The BMW i8 can trace its roots back to the Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept from the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.
After four years of technical workshops and concepts, BMW confirmed it would build that car and five years later, it arrived in the form of the i8.
The design of the BMW i8 is absolutely incredible and it’s a surprise to see how much of the concept’s design that the BMW has managed to keep.
There’s a really nice cut-out in the bonnet which comes in a contrasting colour to the body and at the back, there are a pair of elegant flying C-Pillars. The most striking feature of the BMW i8 however, is its upward opening scissor doors.
The BMW i8 is powered by three power-sources. A 129bhp engine driving the front wheels, a 227bhp three-cylinder driving the rears, and another small boosting electric motor, which works as a generator.
The BMW i8 also has a huge battery pack, which allows for 22 miles of range. Surprisingly though, the BMW i8 still weighs 70kg less than an Audi R8, which comes as a result of its high-tech carbon fibre body and aluminium chassis. It can also hit 0-62mph in 4.4-seconds.
Driving on the electric motor, the BMW i8 feels Volkswagen Golf GTI fast, but if you put your foot down while going up a hill, the three-cylinder kicks in. It sounds really good – pretty similar to the throaty six-cylinder in the Porsche 911.
To make the BMW i8 come fully alive, though, you need to put it in ‘Sport’ mode.
This keeps the turbocharged three-cylinder engine running, as well as the electric motors. It basically gives you everything that this car has got. The engine sounds even better, and because you’ve got the electric motor giving you that instant shove, it feels fast. As soon as it starts to get a bit inefficient, the engine kicks in. You might expect a surging, stepped acceleration from the BMW i8, but it’s really smooth. These figures are better than a Toyota Prius, a Yaris Hybrid and almost any other eco car you can think of.
The BMW i8 is really nice to drive, and what you notice more than anything else, is that it feels really light on its feet. All that carbon fibre really seems to have done the trick.
If you’re expecting the BMW i8 to be an M Car, then don’t. It’s not a big oversteering brute, it’s much more clinical than that and gets a character all of its own.
The steering on the BMW i8 is really nice and light, plus you get a really crisp turn-in. When the back tyres are starting to lose traction, the fronts will come in and drag you out thanks to its four-wheel drive system. It’s really forgiving, but not quite as sharp as a 911 maybe. However, it’s different and it’s something immensely likeable.
The BMW i8 comes with a £100,000 price-tag – similar to a Porsche 911 or an Audi R8 – but what’s amazing is how much tech you get for that.
Obviously there’s the carbon-fibre body, three power-trains and four-wheel drive, but there are even options such as laser headlamps.
The BMW i8 makes the Audi R8 and 911 feel a bit old, but the Porsche is still sharper. What’s clear though, is that BMW has definitely done enough to keep Audi and all other sports car manufacturers on their toes.