Page 49 - ElectriCar Magazine
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  BMW offers a single powertrain in the i8, and it’s a peach. However, with less power than many competitors, it’s not the fastest supercar on the block: The roadster we tested last sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. We wish it were quicker, but the three-cylinder Plug-In Hybrid powertrain is smooth and exceptionally well executed, offering a glimpse of an automotive future we can dig. The i8 mates a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder gas-powered engine with a 11.6-kWh battery pack and two electric motors. The trio of power sources combines for a total of 369 horsepower, capable of driving all four wheels.
The i8 suffers from the same feather-light steering that we’ve criticized in much of BMW’s current lineup. While the steering is accurate and elicits quick responses, we’d prefer more feedback, especially in a vehicle with sporting intentions. The Porsche 911 is our gold standard of steering effort and feel, and the i8’s steering doesn’t even live in the same zip code. The ride is surprisingly civil and bumps in the road are felt, but never harshly. The chassis, constructed of carbon fiber and aluminum, keeps stray body motions in check and serves the double purpose of looking impressive when the dramatic scissor doors are opened to expose the carbon-fiber weave.
With the turbocharged three-cylinder engine bearing the brunt of the work, the i8’s EPA fuel economy ratings are
combined 369 horsepower. A turbocharged 1.5-liter three- cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission power the rear wheels, and an electric motor drives the front wheels through a two-speed automatic transmission.
Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, a driver- adjustable suspension, LED exterior lighting, automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, and driver-seat memory settings.
You also get a head-up display, a navigation system, BMW’s iDrive infotainment interface with an 8.8-inch central display screen, a USB port, a Harman Kardon audio system, satellite radio and HD radio. Also included are BMW Apps, BMW Remote Services (remote-based functions done from a smartphone) and Apple CarPlay.
The optional Tera World package adds special interior trim and unique cloth and leather upholstery. Laser headlights are also available.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The comments in this review are based on limited experience with the BMW i8 Coupe.
The i8 achieves a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds with an i8 Coupe, which is subpar for a sports car in this price range.
far from impressive, at least among hybrids. However, its ratings are still better than the combined ratings of the Acura NSX, the McLaren 570S, and the Porsche 911. The i8 Coupe scored 38 MPGe, including 15.6 miles of EV- only driving after starting with a fully charged battery; the roadster delivers 35 MPGe.
A turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission power the rear wheels, while an electric motor drives the front wheels through a two-speed automatic
Most are not particularly fond of the car’s steering, which doesn’t offer much feel. It is still a fun car to drive.
Even in EV mode, the i8 isn’t completely quiet, you can still hear the whine from the motors. When the gas engine is on, the audio system enhances the sound to be sportier. The adjustable suspension is compliant and well-suited to its purpose.
The i8’s steeply raked front roof pillars, wide doorsills and upward- opening doors make getting in and out
The interior design matches
futuristic exterior and it has
comfortable front seats, but it has more
plastic than is normal in a six-figure
car, rear seats are nearly useless, ingress and egress are challenging.
cumbersome. At least the seating position is textbook sports car. The coupe’s rear seat is tiny and too small for adults.
Utility: The i8’s rear cargo area is small but functional. You can store duffel bags and flatter items such as laptop bags. Thankfully, the coupe’s back seat works well as a parcel shelf. The convertible has less space available because of its folding roof.
With its butterfly doors and bold, sculpted body, there’s no doubt that the BMW i8 turns heads on the high street. There’s more to it than merely eye-catching looks though, the i8 may just be the most ambitious car that BMW has ever produced.
Although it falls into the same sports car bracket as the Porsche 911 and Audi R8, the i8 does things rather differently by using Plug-In Hybrid technology. Its three-cylinder gasoline engine; related to that used in the Mini hatchback, is far smaller than those of its rivals, but it combines with electric power to provide impressive performance. This is a car that’s designed to be as exciting to drive as it is kind to the environment.
Despite the i8’s primary focus on design versus practicality, front-seat occupants won’t feel cramped. The i8 Roadster has seating for only two passengers, with the folding top taking up the space that is occupied by a pair of jump seats in the coupe. Standard interior features include heated, power- adjustable seats and touches of leather. Above all, a vehicle in this class should not feature as much plastic as the i8 somehow does.
The i8’s infotainment system will be familiar to owners of less exotic BMWs. The system is largely intuitive and is displayed on a sharp-looking 8.8-inch touchscreen situated atop the dashboard. Apple CarPlay is standard, but Android Auto isn’t offered on any i8 model.
While cargo space is not typically a strong point for style conscious two-seaters, the i8 is particularly lacking in this area, with a negligible amount of room for luggage and minimal cubby space for the trinkets of modern life. The i8’s rear cargo area is long but shallow, unlike some mid-engined sports cars, there’s no storage up front and we managed to fit only a single carry-on piece of luggage inside.
The i8 is available as a coupe or soft-top convertible. The i8 Coupe features 2+2 seating, while the i8 Roadster subs out the seats in exchange for the roof mechanism. Both models use the same Plug-In Hybrid powertrain that produces a
JUNE 2020

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