The Spectacular BMW i8

Mission impossible successfully accomplished.

By Marc Bouchard

Translated from the French.

I’m in love again, but this time it’s love at first sight, followed by great passion… I’m in love with a car that proved it could do everything, or almost, on four wheels: the BMW i8.

In fact, as soon as I saw it the first time in the movie Mission Impossible, its ultra-modern silhouette, sleek and sophisticated look captivated me right away. Then it came to my doorsteps … this time it was the end, my friend. By then I was passionately and totally infatuated with this car. As soon as it parked outside my house, my heart stopped beating. Not only mine, since my wife immediately jumped behind the wheel to try things out.

One can see that everything is studied in this car: its spectacular look, with scissor doors, highly profiled roof line and unique range of colours. Even the tail lights are quite distinctive, and designed to improve aerodynamics and provide better handling of the car. The inside is also very nice. You’re seated very comfortable, with great support in all positions. Regardless of the type of driving you prefer, the i8 will satisfy all your desires for sporty driving while remaining comfortable on long rides.

Everything is studied in this car: its spectacular look, with scissor doors, highly profiled roof line and unique range of colours.

The dashboard is attractive, without having the appearance of a flying saucer control panel. In fact, it reflects everything else BMW does best to date, with the exception of the wheel touch panel for the control display, which I personally loathe. But like all other manufacturers, BMW seems to have adopted this type of user interface, so I have to get used to it.

But, because there is always a but, the BMW i8 is not perfect. Even though the car is theoretically designed for four passengers, I would not go out and force someone to sit in the back. You should have seen me trying to get in there to understand that, while I don’t have the flexibility of my twenties anymore, the car has no easy access nor enough interior space to receive me comfortably.

Accessing the front seats also had its share of difficulties. Since it offers a very sporty profile, the i8 has a very low line. So you have to literally drop into the seat, while sliding under the steering wheel, above the wide threshold, and below the hanging doors. In short, imagine a somewhat pudgy car columnist waddling to slip on board, and you’ll have a good idea of ​​my performance. Fortunately for my honour, no pictures exist of this impromptu dance. However, I must say that after getting in and out a few times, I felt much more at ease, if not graceful.

Finally, let me tell you that the leading edge design attracts a lot of attention. Downtown, people stood up on terraces to take pictures of my i8 and me. Even on the highway, drivers tailgated a little too close for comfort, insistently wanting to photograph us.

… the leading edge design attracts a lot of attention. Downtown, people stood up on terraces to take pictures of my i8 and me.

A technical marvel

Besides having style, the BMW i8 is a technical and technological marvel. Different driving modes allow you to vary the power sources (from 100% electric to 100% gasoline), and the sport mode even recharges your battery. With a front positioned 131 horsepower electric motor, matched to a two-speed transmission, the car can travel 30 km on electric mode after charging the battery for about five hours, plugged into a 110 volt outlet. At the rear you’ll find a 231 horsepower gasoline engine whose sound (enhanced by the presence of speakers) is quite exceptional, especially in sport drive mode. The car comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, and both engines combined develop 362 horsepower with disconcerting ease and turn your car into a four wheel drive vehicle.

The vehicle handles beautifully, with precise steering, a spectacular suspension, a weight distribution that is almost perfect, and a fuel consumption as low as 3.7 liters per 100 km on average, under normal driving conditions. True, the BMW i8 is worth $150,000 and this year’s model is sold out, but with so many qualities, it is certainly one of the most exceptional cars on the market today.

I tell you, I’m in love!

Strengths:

Breathtaking design
Motor power
Spectacular low consumption

Weaknesses:

Access to the rear seat difficult
Entry and exiting difficult at first
Awkward multimedia user interface

Technical sheet:

Engine: 3-cylinder 1.5-liter turbo
Power: 231
Torque: 236 lb·ft
Electric motor power: 131 hp
Type of batteries: Lithium-ion (Li-ion)
Energy: 7 kWh
Price: $ 150 0000


marc bouchard
 Marc Bouchard has been a journalist for Guide de l’auto before becoming editor in chief of Autonet.ca and co-creator of AutoGO.ca. He has since joined the Netmedia team, specializing in automotive content. Member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada, where he served on the board for five years, he is also presently on the air on a dozen radio stations in Quebec where he share his passion for cars.



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