This may sound slightly unorthodox, but the
The i8 is a pricey yet frugal supercar, so I’m thinking it would have to be a really expensive, but organic and healthy restaurant with super trendy types. There again, when you put your foot down this BMW will get to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds – so maybe find a twisty road and, in the words of Dennis Leary, “throw a non-biodegradeable styrofoam container right out the side and there ain’t a god-damn thing anybody can do about it!”
Scorpion-chilli-hot. Just look at this slinky, carbonfibre 2+2-seat coupe – it looks like it just rolled off the concept car floor. Then you open the scissor doors, get in and close them, and they’re so light passers-by will think you’re a muscle man the way they effortlessly fall down to shut.
It isn’t quite as avant-garde as the outside, with a lot of the switchgear familiar to other BMW models. But there are cool blue seatbelts, a futuristic all-TFT speedometer and tachometer and both lashings of leather everywhere and the most lovely, slim steering wheel that means this supermodel feels as good as it looks.
Beyond the styling, simply the way it moves. A three-cylinder turbocharged engine sounds cute, but along with an electric motor with instant zing, the results are (ahem) electrifying. When you put your foot down, there’s instant performance; when you just want to relax, it’s with you too. It is the best of both worlds.
It loves to beep and bong at you, this i8. It beeps at you to tell you to put your seatbelt on when you haven’t even moved, it bongs at you when you open the door with the ignition on, and worst of all if you open any of the doors it automatically switches the engine off! It also has incredibly thin front tyres for eco purposes, but it makes cornering feel like you’re on ice-skates sometimes.
Many a quick to call the rear seats of a Porsche 911 “useless” or for gnomes, and the same will apply here. But small kids do exist, so the i8 (and 911) can let mum and dad sit up front, while carting the little units to school in the coolest car ever. You won’t be beaten for bragging rights in the drop-off bay (though you may beat down the rear hatch trying to fit school bags in the tiny boot).
Not if you don’t put your foot down. You can plug it into a powerpoint for three or four hours and have 30km-plus of silent electric running (if you don’t put your foot down). And even when it is depleted the braking energy recharge function can sometimes give you free range (we recorded 4.5L/100km on a gentle cruise, with 11km free electric running even after the initial charge had gone).
The $300,000 price tag is a little bit ouch. The way the i8 drives is brilliant, but it doesn’t quite feel as fast or dynamic as a car almost a third of the way towards a million dollars. A trad 911, or Audi R8, is far more of a supercar – yet neither look as special or perhaps feel as light, dainty and normal to drive as the i8.
When the photography was done, we may have gone for a bit more a fling on some twisty roads. This is serious. I do love the i8, but perhaps not quite enough to ultimately admit my love to it.
Maybe I’m just too pragmatic for a supercar; maybe the i8 is just too cool for me; maybe I just wouldn’t fork out the cash. Whatever: I’d also pass on a 911 or R8 to save some coin and buy a Porsche Cayman GTS manual for around half the price. But that’s just me. It’s not you, i8, I promise…
Those who bought the Audi R8 new in 2007 when it looked unbelievably futuristic, should feel right at home in the BMW i8. Also those who want to make a Prius enviro-statement, but have a bit more lushness under their right foot. There again, you could just buy the i8 because it’s a damn good car with one foot as a semi-supercar and the other as a light, dainty, efficient coupe.
Photography by Alex Bryden.