BMW i8 review

Even now, after one and a half years of mass production, the BMW i8 didn`t become less shocking: as before, the swift squat sport coupe is offered in at least two-tone performance with indispensable blue inserts – just the basic colors can be chosen “more serious”.

It is interesting that the modern industry of electric vehicles and hybrids production, which, it would seem, without a year, has already reached quite tangible production volumes. The other day, on November 1, Nissan officially announced that sales of only electric model Leaf and only in the US exceeded 100 thousand units. Tesla is not far behind, frightening its competitors with the pre-orders for the “cheap” Model 3. It does not get behind the word in the pocket and BMW: after starting the serial production of the electric car i3 (and later – its hybrid variant i3 REX) in November 2013, the Germans sold there are already more than 60,000 such cars.

Another 30 thousand account for the numerous hybrids of the brand, which recently received a new prefix to the names – iPerformance. Moreover, missing before, our current hero – i8, sales of which were relatively recently gave the «round number» of 100 thousand hybrid and electric BMW reached more than 10 thousand cars. In addition, it is unlikely to stop there: in 2018, the company intends to start selling the open BMW i8 Roadster. And it’s good…

 First, it is beautiful

Jokes were jokes, but all the pretentious details, which seemed purely conceptual things to throw dust in the eyes, remained in place: a huge channel of the air duct on the front engine compartment cover, difficult profiled thresholds, door handles flush and, of course, “wind tunnels” over the rear wings, replacing the good old “Hoffmeister bend” in the rear window… By the way, these air channels, intricately combining the rear wings, lanterns, side panels of the roof and air intakes of the rear engine compartment of the engine, identify i8 better than any other stylistic “lotion”: no serial car has anything similar. However, this garden was not just for the sake of beauty (or not only for its sake): the coefficient of aerodynamic resistance of the BMW i8 is excellent – 0.26.


You probably already paid attention to the mention of the two engine compartments … So it is: the hybrid power train BMW i8 consists of two separate (and even spaced apart on different edges of the car) power modules. Ahead, under a short sloping “nose” – an electric motor with a power of 131 hp. with a torque of 250 “newtons” and a two-speed transmission. In addition, behind the backs of a purely symbolic rear seats – a compartment with a three-cylinder gasoline Twin Turbo 1.5 liter engine, issuing an impressive 231 “horses” with a thrust of 320 Nm, and a six-speed automatic transmission. There is one more electric 25 kW engine onboard – but it is “stringed” on the axis of the ICE and performs the functions of a starter generator that recharges the traction batteries when driving in the “petrol” Sport mode and on braking.

There is nothing, besides the block of lithium-polymer batteries with a capacity of 7 kW/h and wiring, (some of the cables are thick as a finger) in the central tunnel of the chassis: there is no mechanical connection between the motors. This means that the BMW i8, depending on the selected mode, can have any type of drive: both the front (when driving in eDrive mode), and the rear (when recharging traction batteries in Sport mode), and even full (in Comfort mode and, under certain conditions, Sport).

The long door, swinging upwards with the butterfly’s wing, seems heavy. However, the thing is most likely in the rigidity of the gas stops: the developers of BMW spent a lot of time to design as light a body as possible. It turned out quite well: taking into account the fully equipped carbon-fiber body-monocoque, aluminum chassis, two power units and the battery pack i8 weighs 1485 kilos. “According to the papers,” the combined power of two powertrains (and it is, no less than 362 hp) allows the coupe to accelerate to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. And how it is in real?

In fact, first you need to dive into the interior: the seats in the i8 are located low, a high and wide threshold separates the floor of the passenger compartment – and at all in a few centimeters from the asphalt, and the entrance area and the driver’s seat itself. You have to be cunning and, sitting down on this massive box, one by one to move your legs inside, flopping at last in an elegant ladle seat without the slightest signs of style. Moreover, getting out is even more difficult! Yes, over the presentable appearance in public the owner of this car will obviously have to work for a while…

Closer to reality

To seal the bulging “wing” of the door in the closed position, you also have to make a relatively small but additional effort. However, it is better to be sure: if the door gets into place not tight enough, it will have to be raised again a little, and then you have to seal it even harder. However, being at the driver’s seat of the BMW i8, you completely forget about all these layout sufferings: it really is all right in the interior.

Cockpit, perhaps – the most changed part of the car in comparison with the concept. I remember that in place of the dashboard of BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics, almost 10 years ago, there was an intricate multilayer structure made of polycarbonate, simulating a three-dimensional 3D screen. Now one of two large LCD displays performs the function of the dash. Graphics on them, let it not be voluminous, but it looks more than presentable, moreover, the arrangement of devices with their color varies depending on the chosen mode of motion. In addition, the console filled with red lights when moving to the Sport together with the opalescent backlighting of the interior.

However, while the devices highlighted in blue, the start-up procedure for the BMW i8 differs little from the start of the movement behind the wheel of the electric car i3: pressing the Start button, clicking the selector of the automatic transmission in the position Drive and … went quietly! “Slowly” – in the sense of no sound: the ICE defaults to run only in Sport mode, in other cases, allowing the hybrid sports car to move at relatively low speeds solely on electric traction.

It’s a pity the energy reserve in the battery is small: according to the manufacturer’s information, you can drive about 30-37 km on a fully charged battery, and even then – at a comfortable ambient temperature and with disconnected secondary consumers of electricity like “music” and air conditioning system. Not denying yourself the comfort and entertainment, stretch “on batteries” will get 20 kilometers with a little – but I’m betting that you just do not want it. The BMW i8 will look at you with the blue lakes of its displays, tremble with impatience with two power trains and nudge “Well, what about you? Come on! ”

Electro Sports

Having developed the maximum speed for the electric mode (75 mph, although in the Comfort mode the engine automatically starts already at 37 mph) under the murmur of hard tires, the driver is faced with the choice of “stepping on” or staying with ecology friends.

Of course, you can store some energy in the batteries and give a throttle in a full hybrid drive – so much so that the tires during acceleration will screech almost to a speed of 75 mph. However, you shouldn`t wait the breathtaking “parish” with smoke from under the wheels, instant teleportation or some other phenomenon corresponding to an outstanding appearance. To quench this thirst, it is better to buy a BMW M5 – perhaps even for less money…

If so, then why do Bavarians need a BMW i8? The other day Chairman of the Board of Directors of BMW Harald Kroeger, speaking on the results of the third quarter of 2016, mentioned an interesting fact. It turns out that 80% of buyers of the electric vehicle i3 are new customers who came to the BMW salons from dealers of other brands. But what does the manufacturer intend to offer to its enthusiasts with experience? Perhaps the BMW i8 is not a vehicle at all, not a product – but a secret sign to long-time fans, made from Munich on the eve of big changes. The offer does not go away. Wait.

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