Sports Car or Super Car?
The BMW i8 begs the question between what makes a car, a supercar… And what is just a sports car?
BMW have moderately defined this new marvel as the most progressive sports car. Let’s find out why?
At a first glance, the BMW i8 has that WOW factor you get from most popular super car brands with the likes of Lamborghini, Ferrari and Aston Martin etc.
But, BMW haven’t made super cars before, they are a pedigree renown for luxury sedans and sports saloons. A safe bet and nothing crazy.
Super cars are infamous for being crazy, outrageous and out right special. They stand out from the ordinary, dull cars on the road and I believe the BMW i8 does just that!
I’d have to say that the feeling you get inside the BMW i8 is the feeling that this car is special. It most certainly is not just your average luxury sports car.
In fact inside the car, it’s quite minimalistic, quite like that of a supercar. Yes, it has all your fancy gadgets, we’ll get onto those later, but it also isn’t overly cluttered. It’s simple, yet stylish.
The car has many new features that will excite you however, such as the 360 degree bird’s eye view, the computer uses 5 camera angles from around the car and pieces them all together, giving you a top view of the car, showing you everything around the car, before moving and bumping into anything around you. This feature impressed me. These cameras are also used while driving to give you an indication of road signs and speeds limits, to warn you of cars coming up fast behind you or in front of you. The dash even has a heads up display on the front windshield giving you information without having to look down, maintaining your eye contact with the road.
Let’s look at what makes this car move like a cheetah… It has two engines, well one is a 96kW electric motor situated at the front axle providing front wheel drive that is used to get the BMW i8 moving with serious torque with speeds of up to 120km/h when the eDrive is activated, using pure electric energy stored in the batteries, zero fuel and no emissions. The second is a high performance BMW twinpower Turbo 1.5L 3 cylinder petrol engine situated at the rear axle providing rear wheel drive with 170kW and up to 320 Nm of torque. While the batteries are centered in between the two drive axles, giving the car a perfect 50:50 weight distribution ratio between front and rear axles. These two engines combine to produce an all wheel drive system giving a total of 266 kW, 570 Nm and in Sport mode give this beast a kick off the starting block from 0-100km/h in a mere 4.4 seconds which is supercar competitive. When you buy a supercar, you usually don’t care for fuel consumption or emissions but, with this BMW i8 you’ll be doing your part for the ever at risk environment by only using 2.1L per 100 km and producing an average of 49 g/km of CO2 emissions, which when using purely electric motor goes down to zero. The top speed is of course safely limited to BMW’s govern of 250km/h, which is plenty fast enough.
The BMW i8 has 3 driving modes, respectively the ECO Pro, Comfort and Sport as illustrated by the Dash colours in the images above. The car also uses regenerative braking features to charge the batteries, while also using the combustion petrol engine to charge when battery levels are low. The ECO Pro mode uses pure electric mode and demonstrates the pure efficiency of this marvel of a Hybrid. While the Comfort mode utilises a perfect balance between the electric motor up to 65 km/h and the combustion engine at higher speeds, so you never have to wait for additional power. The Sport mode, yes you guessed it uses the petrol engine from the get go, with it’s deep rumble sending goosebumps down your spine. This mode can be driven in pure Automatic mode, but also includes a manual transmission option by using the gearshift knob or the paddle shift on the steering wheel. This mode utilises the additional boost from the electric motor while adjusting the responsiveness that comes with sporty reactions.
The ingenious BMW Engineers have coined a design known as the LifeDrive concept, which makes BMW the forerunner in the Hybrid generation of cars in today’s market. This design uses a light weight Aluminium chassis mounting the electric motor at the front, with the high voltage Lithium-Ion power house batteries used in the middle, below the centre console to join to the rear aluminium chassis to mount the combustion engine. The second component is what is called the LifeModule, made of high-strength composite reinforced carbon fibre, which is 50% lighter than steel and approximately 30% lighter than aluminium, while still providing the highly stable, crash safe strength through material properties. A mouthful, I know but revolutionary in the future of sporty driving and all things great.
Now, I didn’t forget about all your fancy gadgets, as promised. Check out this link for a video from BMW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAx7q8MFRio
Access to all the standard BMW features are through the iDrive onboard computer, with the easy to use toggle button located on the centre console and LED display on the Dash. You also get the BMW i remote app on your smartphone, which shows you detailed information on the current status of your BMW i e.g. car location, range, battery charge level, service messages, information on whether the doors are locked and the lights are off. The charging process can be initiated remotely using the weekly timer and the air conditioning activated by remote control right before setting off on a trip. The dynamic range map is also integrated into the BMW i Remote App. Destinations (points of interest, POIs) and locations of charging stations can be sent easily from the application directly to the car. The BMW i Remote App also measures the efficiency of each journey in a BMW i model and gives helpful tips on how to drive the car more efficiently and extend the range. The efficiency value of each journey can be anonymously shared with others and compared, if needed.
Safety has always been a big feature for BMW, so why should it be any different for their progressive sports car? In fact, it’s better. With the fantastic driver assist system, providing the driver with information of what’s happening around the vehicle, ensuring you are always aware of whats up ahead or behind you. This is also displayed as mentioned earlier via the heads-up display ergonomically situated on the front windshield to give you better concentration on the road.
Charging of the batteries occur when the combustion engine is in use, under braking using the regenerative energy or when plugged in at home or at charging stations becoming available publicly. On a fully charged battery, you can make a purely electric journey of 37 Km. If the eDrive button is pressed, a purely electric speed of up to 120 km\h is possible.
In my opinion, all this makes this car super! A sports car yes, a progressive sports car even, but its lacking in the crazy department which you’d expect to find in a super car. This bringing my conclusion to the BMW i8 being a magnificent work of engineering ingenuity, beautifully attractive, breathtakingly fast and definitely a first for BMW progressive sports cars. You can expect to find sheer driving pleasure.
Be sure to check out BMW’s website for more information http://www.bmw.co.za/en/all-models/bmw-i/i8/2014/at-a-glance.html
And contact selected dealers or order it online if you’d like to arrange a purchase, the retail price starts at R1 927 700 incl. VAT with additional optional extra feautres available from their price list at this link http://www.bmwgroup-media.co.za/digital/documents/pricelist/i8_Pricelist.pdf