BMW i8 Pure Impuse – Back to the future!
For the longest time, supercars are designed to exude maximum sportiness. From the growl of the exhaust note to the interior finishes, each and every other supercar ever conceptualised screamed of racing and sports – you know, the way Novitec Torado would squeeze a monster out of each Lamborghini they tune.
But BMW managed to turn this whole game of pure aggressiveness and muscularity into something nimble and agile, exuding sportiness and smelling of the future, yet complimented with designs that make you feel just at home.
And with that at first glance, it was enough for us to say that the new BMW i8 is indeed a car of the future that had come back in time.
The i3 boasted a very quirky design, which honestly didn’t sit well with us. It was a tad too boxy, and looked like a box on four wheels albeit the environmentally-friendly drive and impressive performance.
With the i8, such looks have turned from quirkiness to plain sleekness and sexiness. The i3 blends in at times while stationary at the lights, but with the i8 around, there is nothing such as being discreet.
Right up front, you’re greeted by BMW’s signature kidney grill design, this time compacted into a low gradient line that leads all the way to the rear of the car. And if the shark-lookalike facade didn’t sink in from all the rest of the Bimmers, the i8 should bring this striking resemblance out the most.
The head-turning doesn’t stop at just the contours, but extends beyond its doors – particularly when they swing open to reveal the inner senses of this hybrid plug-in wonder. The passenger compartment and doors are made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), and given the upwards angle of which the doors open, you would doubt the ability to open them in your ordinary carpark lot. It did, however, much to our amazement – though you’d obviously require the much appreciated cooperation of the driver next to you to park properly within his lot.
And given the fact that you’re riding on mostly CFRP, it should come as no surprise that the i8 weighs merely close to 1.5 tonnes, lighter than your ordinary entry-level luxury sedan.
Supercars have the reputation of not being friendly towards the ladies – especially for those clad in beautiful gowns or seemingly shorter skirts. Getting in and out would require a fair bit of effort to pull it off elegantly and at the same time, decently.
The i8, unfortunately, is not much different. However, we found it extremely easy (for guys or the ladies in jeans) to slide in and out, be it perching your rear on the door sill and sliding in, or simply just plonk yourself onto the seat, which to be honest, isn’t really low compared to other supercars we’ve tried.
Once inside, this is where the amazingness begins.
You’d expect supercars to come loaded with gadgets and corsa switches to bring out the most muscular ability and speed. The McLaren-series comes standard with push-buttons as their gear selectors, and the raging bull family provides you with countless switches to flick should you choose to drive in various modes.
But in the i8, you find yourself perfectly at home. It bears minimal resemblance to what a supercar typically looks like, but instead, presents you with a more-than-familiar BMW facade – from your iDrive module down to the gear lever and subsequently the steering wheel. If there is something that the interior of the i8 would look like, it feels more futuristic than sporty.
Given its low headroom clearance, adults towering above the average 1.7 metres can forget about a comfortable ride at the rear seats. You’d probably be spending the entire ride crouching forward, and we deduced that the rear seats are perhaps the perfect spot for your toddler or elementary school kid.
At 154 litres, the boot of the i8 feels generally larger than most supercars on the market. You would be able to fit a decently-sized business bag in there, but it would not be the most ideal place for you to store your groceries.
Being a plug-in hybrid, the i8 presents you with two “hearts” – a 1,499 cc petrol plant putting out 230 horses to the rear, as well as an electric motor smartly hidden under the chassis producing 130 horses to the front wheels. We found it remarkable on how BMW managed to come up with a fusion of both plants on the i-series, and even more so, the amount of power and torque you have under your feet with both combined (360 horses and 570 Nm of torque).
Similar to the i3, the i8 provides you with impressive acceleration, something we joke about as “torque-on-demand”. The car launches forward to the century mark in just 4.4 seconds, which is very fast for a car with such a small engine.
Starting up, you wouldn’t hear much of an engine growl like those on the Italian supercars. The i8 blips to life with an electric twirl once you depress the Engine Start/Stop button.
Being an environmentally friendly car, you can choose the option of travelling on maximum eDrive, meaning that your supercar runs purely on battery power. The major shortfall however, would be that your mileage on full battery lasts a mere 35 km.
On the standard Comfort/Eco-Pro mode, the i8 is capable of clocking up to more than 500 km on a full charge and a full tank. The battery and petrol plant runs concurrently, and the only indicator of the engine kicking in from your full battery mode was the small growl of the 1.5 litre plant. Other than that, you wouldn’t even notice the difference.
For the sportier of drivers, a blip of the gear to the Sport mode would give you the much-awaited low exhaust note of your normal sports car. No it ain’t as loud as a Gallardo, but it puts out considerable music to your ears to impress the common passer-by when you plant your foot to the floor.
As per all BMWs, the i8 handles reasonably well especially at sharp corners. The steering felt a little light even on Sport mode, but the i8 took our hard driving with perfect ease, reinforcing its stand as a stress-free, eco-friendly performance car.
The BMW i8 proved to be one of the best cars we’ve ever tried – the fusion of luxury and sportiness is impeccable, and even with a thousand and one eyes fixed onto you as you cruise down the busiest of roads, you won’t for a moment, feel awkward driving this car of the future.
It is, undoubtedly, your anytime, any day ideal supercar.
It’s attention-seeking looks – it’s not everyday that you drive a car of the future. We also like the cabin’s homeliness feeling which wouldn’t turn away the simplest of drivers.
We don’t like:
What’s there to not like about the i8?