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I remember back in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor show when BMW unveiled the Vision Efficient
Dynamics Concept and I remember thinking "wouldn't it be great if they built that? It'll never
happen, but wouldn't it be great?"
Then what happened was four years of technical workshops and concepts, and finally, the confirmation
came that BMW would build that car as the i8. And about five years after that very first
concept, we get to drive it for the very first time.
Before we get in it, you really have to take in its design as it looks absolutely incredible.
Considering how radical that first concept was, it's really surprising how much of it
BMW has managed to keep. There's a few really nice details on here, too. There's a really
nice sort of cut-out in the bonnet, which is finished in a contrasting colour on this
car. Then at the back, you've got these really elegant flying C-Pillars which leave a nice
little gap here. Probably the most radical thing about this car is these doors and I
think even in Los Angeles, these will get a lot of attention.
Underneath the high-tech skin are three power-sources. A 129bhp electric motor driving the front
wheel, as 227bhp three-cylinder driving the rears, and another small boosting electric
motor, which works as a generator.
Despite all that tech, plus the huge battery pack which allows for 22 miles of electric
range, the i8 manages to weight 70-kilos less than an Audi R8 - that's mostly down to its
high-tech carbon fibre body and aluminium chassis. As a result, it can hit 62-mph in
just 4.4-seconds. You've got all of this amazing technology underneath you. You've got the
engine, and the two electric motors, so how does it actually feel out on the road? Well,
when you start it, it'll be in comfort mode that gives priority to the electric motor.
A lot of the time, you'll be running on electric power which is what we're doing now.
You'll get about 22 miles of range - we have about nine miles left - and because of the
instant step off because of the electric motor, it feels Volkswagen Golf GTi fast. It's fast
enough, and you can easily travel around on electric power for the whole time, but if
you put your foot down while going up a hill, you can hear the engine kick in there. What's
amazing about that three-cylinder engine is that it sounds absolutely fantastic. It sounds
more like a Porsche 911 style, throaty six-cylinder. It's really, really impressive, but if you
want the i8 to really come alive, what you need to do is just flick it into Sport mode,
like that.
That keeps the turbocharged three-cylinder running, and the electric motors. It basically
gives you everything that this car has got. Again, you've got the engine, which sounds
even better, and because you've got the electric motor giving you that instant shove, it feels
fast then, and as soon as it starts to get a bit inefficient, the engine kicks in and
takes you a bit further. You might expect a surging, stepped acceleration, but it's
not. It's really smooth, kind of like a blisteringly smooth 0-62mph time of 4.4-seconds. It's just
so impressive.
And despite all this impressive performance, this sportscar that can accelerate as fast
as a Porsche 911, is capable of 135mpg and emits just 49g/km of CO2. These figures are
better than a Toyota Prius, a Yaris Hybrid and almost any other eco car you can think
of.
What you notice about driving the i8, is that it's much more than an eco-car. It's actually
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.
We've found some great roads around here, some kind of really narrow canyon roads in
the hills of L.A., and it feels right at home around there, despite the fact it's so wide.
What stands out is that the steering is really nice, it's light and you get a really crisp
turn-in. If you're expecting an M Car, it's not an M Car, it has a a character all of
its own. It's not a big oversteering brute, it's more clinical than that, so you can feel
just as the back tyres are starting to lose traction, the fronts will come in and drag
you out, so it's really forgiving. it's not quite as sharp as a 911 maybe, but it's different
and it's something that I really like.
What's amazing about the i8 is the amount of technology you get for your money. Obviously
you get the carbon fibre body, there three power-trains and four-wheel drive. You even
get high-tech options like laser headlights, so all of that comes at a price of £100,00.
That is a lot of money, but it's about what you'd pay for a 911 or an Audi R8 and if you
ask me which one I'd have, I'd definitely go for this car because I'm a big fan of technology
and I'm a big fan of design - and this makes both its rivals look old hat in terms of both
of these things. A 911 may be a bit sharper, but what's clear, is that BMW has definitely
done enough to keep Audi and all other sportscar manufacturers on their toes.
Click on the video window to watch our review of the Porsche 911 or the Audi R8. Click on
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BMW i8 review - the new king of supercars?

1829 Folder Collection
hohoyao published on April 11, 2015
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