BMW i8 review by Matt Porter, The Gadget Man

BMW i8 – I just stepped into the future

BMW i8
The BMW i8

BMW have just released a game changing sports car, a vehicle with the performance of a super car and the fuel consumption better than… well, anything on the market. Let me introduce you to the BMW i8.

Travelling to Norwich to test drive the BMW i8, I was filled with trepidation, I wasn’t sure what the test drive would entail.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to be given a demonstration of the vehicle as the passenger, or maybe get a chance to drive this amazing vehicle.

I was driven to Cooper BMW Norwich by Matt Dawson, who had very kindly organised both my 2 day test drive of the BMW i3 and the i8. Upon arrival at their enormous dealership I was given a tour of the showroom which has it’s very own coffee shop and got to the entire BMW range, which is something to behold, even the i3 had it’s own enormous display and every car looked amazing.

BMW i8 Interior drivers side
BMW i8 Interior drivers side

I was then introduced to Emily, who was charged with demonstrating the BMW i8 to me. I had already seen the vehicle as we had parked our electric i3 next to it on arrival, but I had not wanted to pay too much attention to it as not to spoil the text drive. Emily and Matt walked with me to the car, Matt wanted to come along too, which was a good way of testing the cars 4 seater layout (or 2 plus 2). I half expected to get in the passenger seat, but this was quickly corrected as Emily suggested I get in the drivers side.

BMW i8 with scissor doors open
BMW i8 with scissor doors open

The i8 has scissor doors, which mean they open upwards instead of outwards, this has no real effect on the width required to open then though, it does however change the way you enter the car, I’m sure I would be able to jump in and out after a bit of practice, but my initial entry in to the car was somewhat ungainly as it required me to slide in and then swing my legs across afterwards. Once I was in, it was a comfortable and natural as other BMW’s I have driven, you feel completely at home sitting in the car and the seat adjustments are motorised and enables you to get the perfect driving position.

This is the 4th electric car I have driven and all of them apart from the Twizy are full to the brim with LCD screens and technology. The BMW i8 surpasses this with an incredible array of driver aids with the addition of heads-up display, which projects the speed onto the windscreen in front of you.

Matt Porter and Emily Adcock from Cooper BMW Norwich
Matt Porter and Emily Adcock from Cooper BMW Norwich

The BMW i8 is 4 wheel drive, the rear wheels are powered by a BMW TwinPower Turbo 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine producing 231HP, the front wheels are powered by 96kW (131HP) electric motor powered by a 7.1kW lithium ion battery.  The combination of electric and petrol is delivered in 3 driving modes,  Comfort, ECO Pro and Sport.

Comfort mode powers you by electricity alone up to approx 40mph, above this the petrol engine will kick in to provide additional performance where needed.

Samsung Galaxy S4 MiniECO Pro mode again will power the vehicle up 40mph via electric propulsion where the petrol engine will again kick in. However it will adjust the electric systems on the vehicle to provide as much range as possible from the battery.

Sport mode gives you all the power available for acceleration and top speed, using both the petrol engine and electric motor to their full potential. You are also able to switch in to manual gear change which is control from steering wheel paddles.

BMW i8 Steering Wheel
BMW i8 Steering Wheel

The car is ‘started’ by pressing the START button at the side of the drive selector and makes a pleasuring whooshing sound indicating the car was initialised and ready to drive.

I was tasked with reversing the car out of it’s space, which was surprisingly easy considering the car is extremely low to the ground, but reversing cameras and detectors provide ample assistance to make this very straightforward. We drove around both normal roads, dual carriageways and country roads. The car was very straightforward to drive, ultra smooth when cruising and insanely quick when acceleration is needed. The car has a 0-60 of 4.4 seconds and a top speed limited to 160mph, obviously I didn’t experience any of the sort of speeds quoted on our 70mph limited dual carriageways, but I can tell it was all there waiting to be unleashed.

BMW i8 from the front
BMW i8 from the front

The car is capable of 137mpg in optimal conditions and a combined range of 373 miles on a full tank (and battery). Don’t try and drive the car for extended periods on electric only as it will only take you 25 miles on a charge.  However driving in heavy traffic with electric only will reduce your carbon footprint considerably.

BMW i8 alongside the BMW i8
BMW i8 alongside the BMW i8

Price wise you aren’t going to be getting much change out of £100,000 and it may cost you more if you are looking for the additions which in some cases can add £12,000 to the price. If you like the idea of the BMW i8, you have 10 months to start saving as that is the waiting list on this amazing machine.

This is a superb car is almost every way. It’s appealing to drive, fuel and turn heads. I loved every minute of driving it and look forward to the i9.

If you would like detailed information about the BMW i8 you can find it here.

Yet again, I have to thank Matt Dawson at Cooper BMW Ipswich for going to a great deal of trouble and Emily Adcock at Cooper BMW Norwich for providing an amazing demonstration of the i8. Thanks again!

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