BMW i8 First drive review

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BMW i8 � Electric Car 270kW Auto

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BMW i8 first review

With a three-cylinder and carbon fibre body the new BMW i8 is no supercar before it.

PT4M22S 620 349 August 12, 2013

There’s ordinary about the car I’m to step in to. Sleek two-door covered in swirls of blue disguise. Years of hype on its for the first of a new breed of guilt-free cars.

And a tiny three-cylinder that’s a far cry from the often engines usually lurking such sleek lines.

In ways it’s indicative of the BMW says the i8 is about having cake and eating it too — sports car performance while little or no fuel. But at the same there are compromises.

The instruments and are BMW-esque but with a futuristic The instrument cluster, for example, is a screen rather than dials and needles.

Like the there are familiar BMW cues — switchgear, buttons and schemes — but there’s the sweep or line that designers had more latitude for a car was developed outside the usual BMW

Push the start button and the lever to D (for drive) and ready to go. It’s time to out on to the freshly laid track is the new centrepiece of BMW’s Miramas facility in the south of France.

top secret security it keeps eyes from the likes of the i8, the version of which will be next month at the Frankfurt show. A year from though, there s still work to be done.

I get the first of that after only a few A mild clunk shivers the cabin as the petrol engine and motor share duties acceleration. The engineer who is my passenger me those niggling issues are all of an ongoing development program will be perfected within

Unlike other hybrid the two powertrains aren’t linked, at least. While electronics which is doing what, the motor powers the front only, while the petrol looks after the rears.

them to work in tandem is a given the different characteristics. The motor is almost instant in its of effortless torque, or pulling The petrol engine needs a to collect its thoughts and get its turbocharger for similar torque.

Helping it along is a tiny electric motor, which as as firing the engine (it kicks in and out on the conditions and driver inputs) is to quickly bring the engine up to

It doesn’t take long for the 520Nm to be thrusting the diminutive along. At only 1490kg the i8 is a sports car. It s also the aerodynamic of its ilk, with a coefficient of just 0.26, than some fuel

Those aerodynamics are helped by the shape that tapers at the and the relatively few air intakes, a legacy of its motor and compact three-cylinder The duo doesn’t need anything the cooling of a traditional sports car

Acceleration is brisk without fiery. It doesn’t have the shove of a Porsche 911 Turbo or own M5, but with a claimed 0-100km/h of 4.5 seconds it should be similar to the M3 from the same brand.


So athletic and builds pace and with the sort of urge suggests it means business. not as frenetic as an M3, instead relying on its mid-rev response and across-the-board

A glance at the digital speedo as it over to 170km/h confirms the i8 is no but it’s the hearty sound is the biggest surprise.

Three-cylinder have a distinctive note, but is like nothing I’ve There’s a deep thrum intensifies with speed, because it’s just behind the passenger compartment there’s some artificial pumped through the sound Shifting through its six forward at about 6000rpm it relies on all the torque rather than the of combined power.

Still, are hopeful of more petrol with the rev limit set to be increased to 6500 and 6700rpm.

There’s a more pull once you Sport mode, which the engine running permanently than shutting it down full thrust isn t called It also selects a lower and shifts the electric motor’s more to performance than conservation (something achieved in how it charge into the batteries). of that equation is ensuring the that run down the centre of the car low on the with more charge, so re ready to power the motor.

Through corners the i8 feels agile, which is perhaps given the sub-1.5-tonne weight. A low of gravity (BMW says at it’s the lowest of any of its road ever) ensures almost no through bends, and the light but steering points the nose

Only once you begin hard do the front wheels to run wide, pushing and squealing as the of adhesion are reached. Quick changes do little to faze it and the sports car is beautifully composed brakes. It’s a wonderfully machine, although engineers are looking to tweak the set-up to some of the understeer, or front-end

BMW i8 � Electric Car 270kW Auto

The i8 runs on relatively narrow wheels, although our test was shod in the wider sport tyres that up the width 195mm at the front and 215mm at the to a gripper 215mm and 245mm

Engineers claim the wider won’t radically impact the sub-2.5 litres per 100km figure radically but concede the world consumption would a hit; hence the choice.

Of course how much fuel you use vary wildly depending on how you it. With an electric-only range of up to it’s conceivable many rarely use fuel for darting town. But in its more aggressive guise the thirst can surpass

But the i8 also has the ability to use its charge you want it. As more cities bans on emissions in the CBD the i8 can store its until it reaches the zero zone.

You can then switch to electric propulsion, relying on the 96kW electric motor the front wheels.

Performance no petrol propulsion is more acceptable, without the sports car when both powerplants are together. It’s also and with a decent dollop of for easy and quick response to inputs.

When in its electric-only the i8 s electric motor also between two gears, designed to better response (for the modes it remains in the taller of two gears, with the petrol making up the shortfall).

It adds up to a car promises to change people s The sort of car that proves s plenty of life left yet in the car even with stricter regulations and inevitably higher prices. But it delivers on the fun factor plenty in the way of usable performance.

The circa $300,000 price tag is to ensure it will be very a niche, a technical showcase than something to upset the status quo. For now, at

Price: $300,000-plus (estimated)

2 door, 4 seat sports carbon fibre body, hybrid car

Powertrain: 1.5-litre turbo (170kW/320Nm) and electric (96kW/250Nm)

Driven wheels: engine powers the rear electric motor powers the wheels

BMW i8 � Electric Car 270kW Auto
BMW i8 � Electric Car 270kW Auto
BMW i8 � Electric Car 270kW Auto
BMW i8 � Electric Car 270kW Auto
BMW i8 � Electric Car 270kW Auto

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