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4 Hours In The New BMW i8

Full screen

It’s not often you’re given the chance to sample one of the fastest hybrid sports cars of 2014. When BMW asked if we would like some leisure time in the all new i8 we jumped at the chance.

The i8 is BMW’s second step into the electric car market after the release of the i3 earlier this year, but that’s where the similarities end. The i8’s supercar looks ensured there was a crowd of gawkers everywhere we went. Driving the car through Melbourne’s city proved to be a good opportunity to test the car’s electric motor features and instruments and get a feel of what driving the i8 is like as an everyday car.

Let’s be honest, this is not an everyday car. At close to $300,000, the i8 has ‘millionaire who wants to be the first’ stamped all over it. Just getting into the thing took a couple of hours of practice. Heaven forbid you have a dicky hip and need to escape quickly.

Under the bonnet

This is where the i8 gets fancy. You’re looking at a hybrid synchronous electric motor in the front, paired with a 1.5 litre inline 3-cylinder turbo engine in the rear. The electric motor will get you roughly 37 kilometres before it needs a charge. Put the car in sports mode whilst you’re driving and it charges itself. Genius. We managed about 16kms of electric motor charge in 15 minutes of driving in sports mode.

On the inside

The i8 keeps with your traditional BMW styling and avoids looking like the USS Enterprise. Clearly it’s aimed at long time loyalists of the brand. Open the car’s gullwing doors and you’ll find the drive side to be cockpit-esque with the large centre console wrapping itself around the driver. A full LCD dash lights up in a magnificent blue, then changes to menacing red when in Sports mode. The seat belts are also featured the i8 blue colouring which we think is a great little touch.

The head-up display with digital radio stations, navigation and electric/fuel consumption was a nice step into the future. We’re really looking forward to seeing this on more BMW’s in later models.

The perforated leather bucket seats are incredibly comfortable, especially with the über high head rests but forget getting anyone in the back, those seats are purely for small children or animals.

Performance

The BMW i8 really does shine in the performance stakes. The electric motor effortlessly sorts the business of low end torque around town with 129hp and 250N.m, whilst the in-line 3 motor with 228hp and 320N.m takes care of the upper power band for the open roads. Combined, these figures equate to 357hp and 570N.m of torque to get the car from 0 – 100km/h in a respectable 4.4 seconds. Had we not been driving the M4 for the past 3 weeks I think we would have been more impressed.

Any Last Words?

We think the BMW i8 is cool addition to the family. However there were some parts which left us a little ‘meh’. Especially given the hefty price tag. Regardless, as the electric race fires up amongst the world’s supercar marquees, more of us will be weighing up the pro’s and cons of all electric vs. dual motors like the i8.

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