Autocar magazine had one of the first reviews on the super technical electric sports car under development by BMW, the electric prototype i8. The video review takes place on the frozen roads of Sweden where most cars are usually tested in rough conditions. The BMW i8 model development is all about a new breed of sports car that will take BMW into the future. Is all about fuel economy, low emissions and at the same time great street performance, by using very lightweight chassis and a hybrid powertrain composed of an electric engine and a three cylinders conventional termic engine. The All wheel drive electric system helps the i8 to face no problem on the icy roads.
Here is the official Autocar review:
From inside, the i8 possesses all the hallmarks of a proper sportscar. You sit low, below the level of the carbonfibre sill, with your legs well out in front. The seats are tight, hugging, hard shell affairs. The deep but low dashboard is very prominent. However, it is the instrument binnacle – whose mesmerising graphics alter depending on the driving mode chosen, going from a calm hue of blue in eco-pro and comfort to a racier orange hue in sport mode – that initially steals my attention as we set off down a slip road and out on to BMW’s test track.
As we rush along snow-covered roads, I notice a button on the centre tunnel marked ‘E mode’. Van As obliges, depressing it to alter the drive process from petrol-electric to solely electric, in which energy is provided by a lithium-ion battery pack mounted within the centre tunnel. It is a neat trick – one that will allow drivers of the BMW i8 to undertake journeys of up to 20 miles on battery power alone, allowing them to dodge London’s congestion charge and other similar zero-emission zone charges. It also provides the swoopy coupé with near-to-silent cruising qualities.
The most impressive aspect of the new car when we leave the BMW test track and head out on public roads is the smooth interplay between the three power sources, the result, Van As reveals, of countless hours spent refining the algorithms of the i8’s so-called power electronics.
“It’s a crucial part of hybrid drivetrain development, and something we’ve put a great deal of effort in to perfecting to keep us in good stead for the future,” he says. “It’s part of the reason why we decided from the outset not to engage an outside partner, but to keep all electronic development in-house, and retain the intellectual property rights for ourselves.”
The way the BMW i8’s advanced drivetrain switches from hybrid mode (in which all three power sources are in use) to pure electric mode (in which just one power source is relied upon) at the press of a button on the centre console, is extremely impressive. In hybrid mode, all four wheels provide drive. In electric mode, only the front wheels channel drive. It all sounds remarkably complex, but you’d never know it, such is seamless interplay.
Further impressions? While it may be billed as a sportscar, the i8 boasts an excellent ride. The overall set-up is claimed to be close in terms of comfort to that set to appear on the upcoming BMW 4-series coupé. “We are aware certain customers will use the i8 every day. It needs to offer sufficient low speed compliance for commuting in combination with the control required at higher speeds,” says Van As.
So, is the BMW i8 be capable of taking the fight to more conventional sportscars like the Porsche 911 Carrera? After all, it is expected to cost about £100,000, a similar price to a Carrera 4S. It’ll be another year at least before we get to steer the BMW i brand’s flagship model for ourselves but we now know that it is not only spectacularly futuristic in terms of appearance but also engagingly fast, imminently usable and comfortable enough to be used everyday.”