By Shari Prymak
Many car enthusiasts have a vision of the future being a sad, dreary place for automobiles. I prefer BMW’s vision of the future: the i8. With its combination of breathtaking styling, carbon fibre construction, and hybrid power and efficiency, the i8 sends a message to enthusiasts to fear not the future. If BMW’s new supercar is even a hint of things to come from the auto world, then the future is looking pretty good.
Just look at it. The concept car styling makes it look as though it drove straight off of an auto show podium and onto the road. It’s simply breathtaking to look at. It’s also every bit as impractical as it looks. Those dramatic butterfly doors make parking lots a bit of a pain. The enormous door sills make getting in and out with any kind of grace just about impossible. And trunk space is almost nonexistent. It’s unquestionably worth it though for those courageously striking good looks.
The i8’s combination of electric motors at the front axle, and a turbocharged, 3-cylinder engine at the back, produce a total system output of 362 horsepower and 420lb-ft of torque through an all-wheel drive setup. The result is a 0-100km/hr time of around four seconds, a 250km/hr top speed, and an astonishing average fuel consumption of only 8.3L/100km.
The interesting thing about the i8 is that, when you just drive around town, it feels eerily calm and refined, not unlike any other BMW really. There’s even an all-electric mode called eDrive that allows for around 24 gas-free kilometres when the batteries are charged. In comfort mode, one of three other driving modes, the i8 behaves like a typical hybrid with the gasoline engine and electric motors active.
As nice as it is to know that the i8 can be kind to the polar bears, it’s the sports car side that impresses the most. Flick the gear lever into Sport mode, and that Ultimate Driving Machine BMW DNA begins to shine through. The acceleration goes from merely quick to supercar quick. The engine emits a pleasing, though partially synthetic, snarl as you snap away through the gears. And the well-balanced chassis gives the i8 a level of agility that only a car with lightweight construction and a low centre of gravity could provide. The performance is more civilized than raw, but it’s still fun nonetheless.
What BMW has made, then, is a supercar that’s as silent and efficient as a Prius for the daily commute, but one that can also become a Jaguar F-Type for the weekend blast. Porsche and McLaren would charge you over a million dollars for similar technology, but not BMW. The i8 has a base MSRP of $150,000, and that bargain price gets you the carbon fibre chassis, futuristic hybrid drivetrain, and the art gallery worthy styling. The Acura NSX, though pricier, is the only hybrid supercar that falls in the same ballpark. But until it’s available, the i8 is, unquestionably, the hybrid supercar to own.
For more details, please visit the BMW Canada website.