Driven - - CONTENTS -

A glimpse into the fu­ture of sports cars

Be­yond merely be­com­ing sta­tus sym­bols, some au­to­mo­biles have ac­quired a cer­tain iconic sta­tus, while oth­ers have come to be viewed as au­then­tic ex­pres­sions of art.

The BMW i8, we reckon, is one such ex­am­ple. With its pur­pose­ful lines, sen­su­ous con­tours, and fu­tur­is­tic el­e­ments, the BMW i8 rep­re­sents a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a mov­ing sculp­ture that speaks in si­lence of both move­ment and change.

Art is renowned for its clearly de­fined move­ments and styles ac­cord­ing to a spe­cific era. The same is true for the art of car de­sign. When the Jaguar E-Type was launched in 1961, Enzo Fer­rari called it the most beau­ti­ful car ever made and the rest of the auto in­dus­try fol­lowed suit with sports car de­signs roughly based on the E-Type form for most of the 1960s and 1970s.

In the early 1970s, when Nuccio Ber­tone first saw the clay model of a new Lam­borgh­ini model, he is ru­moured to have used the Pied­mon­tese ex­ple­tive, “con­tacc”, to de­scribe his sur­prise and de­light at the sight of what would later be­come the Lam­borgh­ini Coun­tach.

To this day, ex­ple­tives are still in use to ex­press sur­prise and de­light at the sight of a clas­sic Coun­tach. Since then, there have been nu­mer­ous it­er­a­tions of the same style el­e­ments across nu­mer­ous mod­els, but the first sports car to come along to de­fine a whole new move­ment in both style and phi­los­o­phy is the BMW i8.


The BMW i8 de­sign rep­re­sents the sports car of the fu­ture as much as its drive sys­tem rep­re­sents the fu­ture of the au­to­mo­bile. With its fu­tur­is­tic de­sign and pi­o­neer­ing tech­nol­ogy, the BMW i8 has been the world’s high­est-sell­ing hy­brid sports car since its launch in 2014 and, has col­lected an ar­ray of awards in recog­ni­tion of its vi­sion­ary de­sign and trail­blaz­ing ve­hi­cle con­cept.

Bavar­ian au­tomaker, BMW has also won the In­ter­na­tional En­gine of the Year Award three con­sec­u­tive times (2015 – 2017)

with its plug-in hy­brid drive sys­tem as im­ple­mented in the i8.

This paved the way for the con­tin­u­ally ex­pand­ing num­ber of plug-in hy­brid mod­els from both the BMW and MINI name­plates.

The new BMW i8 Coupé and the dash­ing new BMW i8 Road­ster now take the al­lure of sus­tain­able driv­ing and sports car per­for­mance to a new di­men­sion.

Pow­ered by a dual-drive sys­tem con­sist­ing of a hy­brid syn­chro­nous elec­tric mo­tor, and a three-cylin­der petrol en­gine with BMW TwinPower Turbo tech­nol­ogy, the en­gine’s power is chan­nelled to the rear wheels through a six-speed Step­tronic trans­mis­sion. The elec­tric mo­tor, how­ever, pro­pels the front wheels via a two-speed au­to­matic gear­box. The net re­sult is an all­wheel-drive sys­tem that, quite sim­ply put, glues the car to the road.

The gross en­ergy ca­pac­ity of the lithi­u­mion bat­tery has been in­creased from 7.1 to 11.6 kWh, which in­creases the elec­tric mo­tor’s peak out­put by 9 kW to 105 kW. With max­i­mum torque of 250 Nm from rest, the BMW i8 de­liv­ers ra­zor-sharp re­sponses to the slight­est move­ment of the ac­cel­er­a­tor and ex­cep­tion­ally smooth ac­cel­er­a­tion in elec­tric mode. Ca­pa­ble of reach­ing speeds of up to 105 km/h purely on the elec­tric mo­tor’s power, the BMW i8 al­lows for a zero-emis­sions drive not just in town, but on coun­try roads as well.

Then, at the push of the eDrive but­ton, the all-elec­tric speed is in­creased to 120 km/h.

The new bat­tery also ben­e­fits the elec­tric range of the two plug-in hy­brid sports cars, with the i8 Coupé ca­pa­ble of up to a 55-kilo­me­tre all-elec­tric range, while the slightly heav­ier i8 Road­ster can travel up to 53 km — well, ac­cord­ing to the no­to­ri­ously op­ti­mistic NEDC test cy­cle any­way.

The 1.5-litre tur­bocharged three-cylin­der en­gine de­liv­ers a max­i­mum out­put of 170 kW and peak torque of 320 Nm. The en­gine is a pleas­ant sur­prise and gen­er­ates a distinc­tive and sonorous soundtrack that now has an even sportier note when its power re­serves are called upon.

The sys­tem out­put pro­duced by the elec­tric mo­tor and en­gine act­ing in uni­son has been in­creased to 275 kW, and with a to­tal of 570 Nm of torque on hand, the new BMW i8 Coupé ac­cel­er­ates from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.4 sec­onds, while the new BMW i8 Road­ster takes a tick longer with a time of 4.6 sec­onds. Both mod­els have an elec­tron­i­cally lim­ited top speed of 250 km/h.

It’s even eco­nomic. Well, com­pared to con­ven­tion­ally-pow­ered sportscars that is. The i8 duo both re­turn fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions fig­ures that un­der­cut those for con­ven­tion­ally pow­ered sports cars with sim­i­lar out­puts by around 50%. Charg­ing the bat­tery is sim­ple and easy with a ‘mode 2’ charg­ing ca­ble as stan­dard, that en­ables a full charge from a stan­dard do­mes­tic socket in un­der four-and-a-half hours. An op­tional BMW i Wall­box makes home charg­ing par­tic­u­larly easy and con­ve­nient as it al­lows for a full charge in un­der three hours, and the op­tional ‘mode 3’ ca­ble can also be used for high-power pub­lic charg­ing to 80% in less than 30 min­utes.


The new BMW i8 Road­ster comes with an all-sea­son fab­ric soft-top with ad­di­tional sound­proof­ing and can be opened or closed in less than 15 sec­onds. It also

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