Text and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis
The automotive engineering has come a long way since the days of wooden carriages, steam engines and springleaf suspension. What seemed like science fiction just 20 years ago is a reality at present. We see manufacturers offering hybrid powered, self-driving, self-steering vehicles; the future of motoring is here and it is majestic.
Admittedly hybrids aren’t anything unique or exclusive in the modern world anymore, in fact there are a lot of them; however, not many of them are as extraordinary as the BMW i8. A hybrid should incorporate two things – an alternative source of energy to power the vehicle and a mind blowing design. Many manufacturers have tried but only a few succeeded, whereas BMW in my opinion – nailed it.
When the first sketches of the BMW’s Concept Vision Efficient Dynamics model were released to the public, it immediately gained a huge attention within the motoring world, leaving many petrolheads wondering if this could be the hybrid that could finally be the one; amongst them there was Eiad. He was the lucky person to own the very first BMW i8 on UK soil.
The BMW i8, first introduced as the BMW Concept Vision Efficient Dynamics, is a plug-in 2-door coupé hybrid sports car developed by BMW, it is arguably one of the most beautifully designed and impressive cars on the road currently, let me explain why.
The BMW i8 was designed by Benoit Jacob and first unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt International Motor Show in Germany, where BMW concurrently launched a new project, called “Project i” marketed as a new BMW Hybrid brand, sold separately from BMW and Mini. The First i8 left the Leipzig factory in April 2014 and has been sold in more than 4,500 units worldwide since.
The striking design of the i8 features a full carbon fibre body, butterfly doors, laser headlights and two-tone paint. Despite the heavy battery packs the car weighs in at 1,485kg as a result of the lightweight body, also thanks to the aerodynamic features the i8 has a very low drag coefficient making it ultra-efficient and fast.
I8 was the first production car to have laser headlights, reaching much further than LED lights.
Other unique signatures of the i8 include the monstrous 20" alloys dressed in 215/40 Bridgestone rubber, beautifully scalped bonnet vent, rear aero quarter panels and the signature taillights.
The interior of the i8 matches the equally astonishing exterior. Once inside the i8 you’re surrounded by futuristic technology and gauges. The i8 dashboard features heads up display, I-drive technology and full 360 and a real time overhead camera.
The driver is welcomed into absolutely stunning bucket seats that wouldn’t look out of place in one of the Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter. Ivory, tasteful leather, carbon and modern gadgets have replaced the typical wooden trims and granddad’s dials.
The partially false engine noise is delivered in-car via the sub-woofer and harman/kardon audio system, and whilst the small petrol engine is not really a screaming V12, the pre-recorded noise is actually very appealing.
The i8 is equipped with two engines: mid-mounted 1,499cc petrol powered turbo engine producing 228hp, as well as a 129hp hybrid synchronous motor. Both engines combined are capable of 357hp and 570Nm powered via all-wheel-drive system. The car will do 75mph in all-electric mode and has a reach of 23 miles from the 7.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack. However when all the right buttons are pressed and the torque devil is let out, the i8 can reach 60mph from standstill under 4.4 seconds and go up to155mph (restricted). All this whilst having a fuel efficiency of just 2.1 litres to 60 miles of driving.
What also is worth noting that whilst it in essence the i8 is a hybrid super-car, it also retains the perfect functionality of an everyday car. The price of the i8 might be high, but nowhere near the price of the competitors like Porsche 918 etc., but it doesn't mean the car doesn't get attention. i8 turns heads no matter what surroundings it in.
After a day with the car I was in love with it - truly magnificent design, outstanding driving capabilities and German reliability.