- Ease of use
- Firm ride
- Steering feel
Welcome to the future; this is the new BMW i8, a hybrid electric two-door 2+2 sports car the likes of which the world hasn’t seen before.
Despite the eco-conscious demeanour, the i8 develops 357bhp and 570Nm of torque, and can sprint from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds thanks to its sophisticated four-wheel drive chassis and lightweight carbon-fibre construction. Those numbers pit the BMW very much up against the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.
Under the skin
Constructed of two halves – an aluminium drive module sits enclosed in a sleek carbon-fibre ‘life module’ – the BMW i8 is lightweight (for a car laden with batteries and two powerplants), weighing in at under 1,500kg. There’s an electric motor up front, producing 128bhp, that drives the front wheels through a two-speed automatic gearbox and a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with 229bhp driving the rear wheels with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The electric motor does most of its work low-down, with 250Nm of torque available from the get go, but will continue to boost the overall output once the engine is working. That means there’s instant power whenever you want it, regardless of engine and road speed, and the i8 can increase its speed with unrelenting alacrity.
This setup also makes for an incredibly intelligent four-wheel drive system that sees much of the power sent rearwards at the entry to a corner, then pushed forwards to pull the car past the apex and out onto the straight. It all works seamlessly, with no detectable change in the way the car behaves on the road save for an abundance of grip.
The result of all this low-down torque and four-wheel drive is a car that can carry real speed through even the most challenging corners and continually builds and instils confidence in the driver.
There’s no getting away from this car’s near £100k price tag, even after the current £5,000 government grant reduction, but apart from the cutting-edge technology and exotic materials it justifies its numbers thanks to high levels of standard equipment.
The car rides on 20-inch alloy wheels on adaptive dampers, the seats are electrically adjustable, heated and covered in leather while sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a 20GB hard drive feature. Parking sensors ensure you don’t damage that exquisite bodywork while the high-tech theme inside is bolstered by a colour head-up display.
Smartphone users can take advantage of BMW Apps which allow remote access to the car’s systems to monitor and control them – for example you can pre-heat or pre-cool the car before a journey or browse previous trip information from the comfort of your own home. BMW also offers a specially designed wallbox charger for the i8.
Officially, despite the incredible performance figures, the BMW i8 is capable of achieving 135mpg, though in the real world you’ll never come close to that – especially if you take advantage of this car’s sheer grunt. In fact to get close you’d need to run on electric-only power, which the i8 is capable of for up to 23 miles at a speed of 75mph.
One thing that’s not up for argument is the 49g/km CO2 output, which ensures that there’s no annual VED fee to pay, while the i8 is congestion charge-free in the UK capital and company car buyers (who are lucky enough to have the BMW as a choice) will pay minimal tax on the car.
Expensive to buy yes, though some would say the dihedral doors are worth the price alone (even if they do hamper entry and egress for some), but it’s one of the most special cars currently available – read our BMW i8 review to find out just how much we liked it.