It hasn’t been long since the BMW i3 was released to oohs and aahs… and chuckles. But the BMW i8 is soon to be released, as well. Obviously, it will have a higher price, better performance, and better specs. So, as exciting as the BMW i3 release was, the BMW i8 release may 1-up it.
According to the teaser below, the i8 will be released on September 10 (which also happens to be my brother’s birthday):
Of course, we’ve already seen a few “spy pics” and sneak peaks that give a better look:
BMW i8 Details
The BMW i8, while “electric,” is actually a hybrid electric vehicle (a plug-in hybrid electric, to be exact). It will have a B38 1.5 liter three-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors. For those of you interested in these details, BMWBlog writes:
The little but potent combustion engine is transversely mounted behind the cabin and delivers 228 horsepower and 236 lb ft-of torque. That’s 152 hp per liter, an impressive figure by any standards. BMW engineers confirmed that there is room for a bit more power, but the current level delivers the best efficiency.
Power is sent to the wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox and a conventional torque converter.
At the front, but closer to the wheels, BMW placed an electric motor developing 129 horsepower and 184 lb ft-of torque. This is the same electric motor as in the BMW i3 but with less power (170 hp in the BMW i3). The electric motor drives the front wheels via a GKN two-speed automatic gearbox which always run in first gear while in eDrive mode but switches directly to second gear in the mixed modes. The energy is drawn from a 5 kWh lithium-ion pack placed along the central tunnel right behind the electric motor.
An additional e-motor is placed in the rear adjacent to the combustion engine. It produces 13 hp and 81 lb-ft of torque and while it can provide additional power to the rear wheel, BMW says that it’s main functions are to recharge the battery, start the combustion engine and in hybrid mode to smooth out power delivery and match up the revs when switching driving modes. Therefore the typical lag mode found in hybrid or combustion setups is removed.
All these add up to a combined 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, 44 percent of it available from the moment you floor the throttle.
BMW i8 Reviews
Initial reviews of the BMW i8 have been decent. With regards to style, Alistair Weaver of MSN Cars writes, “Although the i8 is a rival to Porsche 911 in terms of size, price and performance, BMW expects it to appeal to a different type of customer. This is a car for those who want to present themselves as a style-setting eco-warrior.”
Further comparing the BMW i8 to a Porsche 911 Carrera S, Alistair notes: “[the BMW i8 has an ] output of 357bhp and 420 lb ft of torque. By comparison, a Porsche 911 Carrera S develops 395bhp and 324 lb ft.”
In some performance aspects, Alistair contended that it didn’t yet beat a Porsche 911 Carrera S (noting, however, that the production version is not yet finalized), but it also has its trump cards. Giving it 4 stars, Alistair’s overall summary was: “The BMW i8 is genuinely different. Although it’s nominally a rival to the Porsche 911, it’s likely to appeal to a different type of person. As an enthusiast’s tool, it isn’t as responsive or ultimately as emotive as the Porsche, but it’s a fascinating car boasting technology that really works. We’ve no doubt that it will be a huge success.” But to get more into the nitty gritty, read the full review.
BMWBlog, which included videos of its test drive (see below), test drove the vehicle in the same place as MSN Cars — Miramar, France. BMWBlog‘s Horatiu Boeriu was a bit more enthusiastic about the car. “Labeled and marketed as a ‘progressive sports car’, the BMW i8 screams of high-tech that combines the knowledge of ‘Ultimate Driving Dynamics’ with the power of advanced technologies. And by advanced tech, we are not simply referring to the electronics, but also to the CFRP knowledge and futuristic design…. While in many reviews we labeled the amazingly powerful BMW engines as the ‘heart of the beast’, or some variations of that, in the case of the BMW i8 the full technology solution is what makes the progressive sports car so special.” Horatiu follows up with a lot more details on the tech, if you care to read all that.
Horatiu notes that the SPORT mode fits the name well:
As we mentioned earlier, each mode comes with its own settings and as expected the SPORT driving mode is the one that shows the true capabilities of the car. The basic characteristics of a sports car are there: low center of gravity, great cornering, limited body roll and confidence.
We essentially flew through some corners where the weight of the car showed us how important lightweight remains in performance cars these days. The i8 planted itself onto the tarmac while the tailwiggled a bit, especially when DSC was off. One thing we have noticed is some slight understeer on some sections of the track (the glass-smooth surface could be at fault), but BMW says some slight work in the tires department might remain to be completed before the market launch.
The steering wheel feels great and the road feedback is present, increasing our confidence in the car’s abilities and ours as well.
But ECO PRO mode lets you chill out a bit:
In the ECO PRO mode everything becomes softer. The handling is less aggressive while the air conditioning operation is altered to improve efficiency. While in Comfort mode BMW estimates a range of over 310 miles (500 km) with a full tank of gas and a charged battery, the ECO PRO mode can extend that by up to 20 percent. The ECO PRO mode can also be used during all-electric operation.
The regenerative braking does its job as well. With the BMW i8, the system generates about 40 percent by just lifting off the gas pedal.
After a few laps and some backroads driving in all these three driving modes, the electric batter charge actually went up 5% to 64. But running purely on SPORT mode for a few hot laps will certainly lose the same amount of charge, and more.
Last but not least important, the eDrive mode which is activated with the push of a button. The i8 goes into a near silent mode and that 184 lb-ft of torque becomes instantly available. When fully charged, the BMW i8 runs up to 35 kilometers (22 miles) on electric power only with a top speed of 75 km/h (47 mph).
The estimated combined MPG is 95 mph, but BMW says that each mode and the driving habits will dictate the final number.
And here’s the summary review to the question “Is the BMW i8 for me?”:
Are you an early adopter? Do you love the greatest and newest tech? Looking for a sports car with the green aura all around it? Do you love attention? And most importantly, can you shell out over $125,000? Then without a doubt the BMW i8 is a car that goes on your short list. BMW keeps pointing out the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, so in their mind at a similar price point the two cars are sharing similar performance, but with the caveat that the BMW i8 is the “new kid on the block.” A cool one we might add.
When it comes to market next year, BMW will play a new ball game with the i8, in uncharted territory that still has many unknowns and almost no historical data points, but one thing we know for sure at this moment: the BMW i8 is a great looking car, it is extremely light and delivers the perfect combination between fast and fun.
Give it a decent base price and the first few units will be sold out in no time. The harder part comes after that.
Any initial thoughts?