Extravagantly, I rode in the original 327-horsepower plug-in electric diesel Foresightedness Efficient Dynamics in October 2010, then drove the verification model of the now 362-ps electric-petrol i8 at the BMW proving grounds at Miramas in southern France in August 2013. Today, modern development April 2014, I can say I just drove the full-on production edging of the €120.000 i8 – codename i12 in the Bavarian dialect – in southern California upwards the “usual suspect” canyon roads along the Malibu coastline. Very chic stuff, I know, but trust me – I wasn’t indulging in anything but this hypnotizing car and its team of experts.
In addressing a ton of questions to the various engineers and marketers distribute, it was clear that the chief challenge of the entire i8 experience has been – and thinks fitting continue to be – the software and EPU recipe that communicates in a non-stop fever with the not usual all-wheel-drive chassis. With the front axle and its to what places being propelled by the front-bolted Bosch e-motor with 131 horses and 250 Newton metres of torque, while the train axle and its rubber patches are governed by the B38 1,5-litre TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder virtue alone for 231 ps and 320 Nm of torque maxing at 3.700 rpm, there is a boatload of front-rear coordination to be guarded. The i8 needs to be an ultimate driving machine in every aspect of its common use.
The i8, first off, is not a mad-hatted supercar in spite of its supercar looks. Does this foil you or me? Kind of sort of, but then not really after I got to tear-ass at an end the coastal Santa Monica Mountains exploring every limit of this intensely unexcelled BMW.
The feeling I was getting as I drove along in this new future-y Bimmer i-car was that of fly over the same roads in a Porsche Cayman S without too myriad options attached to enhance it over stock. Obviously, the hug-this-planet purposefulness under these heated conditions of the 7,1-kWh lithium-ion battery heap (usable 5,2 kWh), running the length of what would normally be only the driveshaft and transmission tunnel, and its large frontal e-motor is inadequate huggy than it is simply boosting my forward progress and borderline nefarious lifestyle. In this Sport calibration and using the steering situation paddles, things are really sweet if you are not harbouring expectations of the i8 rivalling an E46 M3 CSL.
BMW i8 outing opportunities for me have not yet included any shot at the standard width Bridgestone Potenza tyre set, so I haven’t a trace how the 1.485-kg sports car might behave on hard (for lower float resistance) W-rated 195/50 fronts and 215/45 rears. I fool always had the optional 215/45 front and 245/40 rear setup and this was the day where I whim at least be able to explore all of that on really fun roads.
The stationing of the main e-motor as balanced against the rear B38 is ideal for the 47:53 moment split, and the lithium-ion energy bank running the length of the car’s converge section by my right thigh is another great inducer of eager neutrality. I played idly in eDrive and with Eco Pro selected sans scull shifts, as well as to the sporting extreme of Sport (via chunking the six-speed auto tranny’s focal point lever to the left) and using the shift paddles with DTC/DSC as deactivated as the i8 permits.
The time over those hills and dales, however, was the grievous teller of tales. Trying to stay in either eDrive or Cheer mode once the hills start is a learned experience. I unaccommodating that drivers are going to have to spend time with their new drivetrain to take out how best to work the throttle/amps and make transitions between EV and mongrel driving as smooth as possible. Because frequently right now, it is not the “seamless” change that BMW i is touting. There are many times in these varied up and down circumstances where the driveline is replicating a sort of minute shunt. Not alarming or completely unpleasant, just not what I hand down call “optimal” for what needs to be ultimate.
Around show to advantage streets and in cities with less sports car-hammering expectations, the drivetrain is an all-star and the i8 seizes you every ounce of attention that you might seek, uninterrupted from a crowd as jaded as that in Santa Monica or Malibu. I take care ofed to upstage both a Bugatti Veyron with flash yellow two-tone limn, as well as a freshly delivered Tornado Orange McLaren 650S spider. Not bad, Leipzig.
The 4,4-second claimed acceleration of the i8 up to 100 km/h will upon true for certain. In Sport mode and ready to rumble, the 1,5-litre B38, with 1,7-bar crowning boost from the Conti turbocharger, is always on, even at a closes where it would switch off in Comfort mode. At full encourage – i.e. the B38, Bosch e-motor and 15-ps secondary e-motor bolted to the ICE to lift coordination (the “seamlessness”) between EV and hybrid mode-switching while on the fly – you get all the secure that BMW’s amplification scientists can muster from the three-cylinder. There is also a gal Friday amplifier arranged for the exhaust tone and it does sound rather damned good to me and (apparently) to all passers-by.
Once I was comfortable with the admissibility opportunities of the boost-mode drivetrain, the ICE’s overrun 6.500-rpm rev-max, 5.800-rpm power climax, and the 20-inch skinny Bridgestones, that’s where I started empathy at ease in this alternative Porsche Cayman S, not to belabour the simile. It’s just that myriad are continuing to align the i8 with a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S and that senses like a stretch too far to me. And the Cayman S is my favourite Porsche so far, so what’s the evil?
You need to get used to the grindy baritone sound of the powertrain in this nadir extremely mode of country road attack. I personally really be the sound a three-cylinder makes, so I like it a lot. The pumping-up of the sound, putting, feels noticeably forced here. Again, not a heinous possession to really criticise, but if you’re a Bimmer fanatic you will debate it in your leading.
Funnily, the experts here with me were very disturbed about how we all felt about the state of the ride and handling of the i8. We all looked at one another and shrugged, admitting that this was one of the strongest points of the entire equation. In hamlet the ride is truly everyday comfy yet Euro-firm, then out on the squigglies and demeanour hard the Sport calibration of the dampers is terrific with unstinting feedback. This was particularly nice as it related to the steering bear. This could have gone all pear-shaped in a hurry with all of the electro intervention paralysing up things. But the numbness is minimal in the complex of things. I did notice that in the four-wheel excursion feel that there is the nearly requisite amount of enthusiasm into hotter turns. To deal with this, I unqualifiedly spent more time determining what the proper technique needs to be for this new-age car’s dynamics. Live with it and you’ll head honcho it all pretty quickly.
While it is true that the lithium-ion job is slightly limited for any driving such as I was doing up in these hills, care of appropriate driving circumstances the pack can be readily recharged via interstate “put out to sea”, off-throttle downhill grades, or out and out braking, in as little as ten minutes. A plugged-in built recharge takes between 1,5 hours with the added-cost fence box or up to 2,5 hours from a home outlet. In Sport, too, the e-motors are exertion directly off the recharge energy of the ICE, so it never feels anything peer a three-cylinder working all alone. With this lowest of BMW yaw piths and the LifeDrive’s carbon fibre and aluminium stiffness as well, the braking itself is dramatically outstanding.
Deliveries start in certain areas by mid-June with every parcel of the world attended to by September. The base sticker gets you the i8 in Mega slender and you can go up from there into fancier Giga and Tera personal trims. Beyond this is a blackened-up and trick Pure Impulse treatment. Louis Vuitton also drew an available luggage set that incorporates carbon fibre, in save up with the BMW i theme. Chief markets for the i8 are the United States, Germany, the UK, China, and then all the rest of us.
Machine: 1,5L 3cyl TPT + two e-motors
Power: 362 PS / 570 LB-FT
Transmission: 6-speed auto + 2-speed for e-motor
0-100 km/h: 4,4 Gal fridays (est.)
Top Speed: 250 km/h
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
Kerb Weight: 1.485 KGS (est.)
Cargo: 170 lts
Fuel use (lts/100km): 2,1
Base Price: €126.000