BMW i8 Driving Review -Car

by Bernie McGroarty on March 31, 2014, 11:48 am
”car i8 test”

Car Magazine recently had the opportunity to drive BMW's plug-in hybrid sports car, the i8. The i8 brings a lot to the table. The i8's 362bhp and 420 torques, 50:50 weight distribution, light weight carbon/aluminum construction, and around 100 mpg, really peak people's interest. So, what is it really like, how does all this come together? From track to real world driving, mileage to performance, Car got to put the i8 through the wringer and a get feel for whether or not the i8 lives up to all the hype.

Here are some highlights from their test drive of the i8.

The turbocharged, three-cylinder unit feels smooth and progressive, and for now appears wrapped in cotton wool it’s so acoustically detached. In eDrive, the i8 is all a bit eco-friendly and measured, more in line with the city car character of its i3 sister car than the sporty soul you’d expect.

eDrive is great for silent, socially responsible city cruising; Eco Pro will reward feather-footed, mpg junkies who want to keep going for their highest scores; Comfort is fine for everyday motoring. But to get the best out of the i8, to unearth its true dynamic talent, we’re going into Sport mode. Flick the gear selector left, to engage Sport mode. The dials switch to a bright red glow, any throttle resistance is replaced by eagerness. The six-speed automatic – already responsive in Eco Pro mode – shifts like lightning in Sport.

The petrol engine now snarls as you demand more from the i8. The three-cylinder is redlined at 6500rpm, but it’s no lightweight: it could power the coupe to its 155mph limited top speed without any electric assistance. That said, it needs revs to deliver significant slugs of torque, which is where the e-motor comes in. Its instant grunt fills the low-down gaps in the turbocharged petrol’s torque curve, ensuring relentless acceleration. It’s so continuous, you’d think the i8 has a rapid dual-clutch ’box. Indeed the petrol unit spins so eagerly to the limiter in Sport, that only the quickest fingers can keep up when you’re self-shifting.

The i8’s drivetrain combines the punch of a big-block V8 and the smoothness of a straight six.

The i8 permits its driver to partly or fully deactivate stability control. This opens up a whole new dynamic experience, where this plug-in hybrid morphs into a flagship M8. On the attack, the car will deliver whiplash-style torque boosts as if a magic wand was briefly doubling the wattage. Through corners, you can step back on the gas unusually early, open the steering up right after the apex and summon enough lift-off oversteer to put a broad smile on your face.

Innovative, pace-setting, radically different, the i8 is remarkable. In its performance and handling, it feels every inch a typical BMW, despite using technology – carbonfibre, electrification – well outside the company’s comfort zone. It takes something special to hit the bull’s eye in two contrasting areas. But the i8’s green footprint is every bit as impressive as the black tyre tracks the enthusiast driver can also leave behind.

Check out the full i8 test from Car Magazine here.

Want more info on the i8, check out the world premier here!

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