First Rides of BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Confirm M3-Matching Capabilities (Video)


BMW i8 Out in the Snow

BMW i8 Out in the Snow

While the BMW i3 may have more mass appeal, the plug-in hybrid i8 is more a true BMW, with performance that is fitting of the German automaker.

On Tuesday, we brought you a recap of the first drives of the BMW i3.  Today, it’s the i8’s turn.

BMW i8 Zips Along

BMW i8 Zips Along

This time, we turn to the folks at AutoExpress who had the rare opportunity to test out BMW’s i8 plug-in hybrid on snow-covered roads in northern Sweden.

Here are some snippets from AutoExpress’ time spent in the passenger seat:

“We’re sitting beside a BMW engineer for this first taste of the i8. He slides the gear selector into D and we’re off. As long as the driver doesn’t accelerate hard, the i8 remains in electric-only mode. So all we hear from the i8’s powertrain is a gentle buzzing noise.”

“But the serious fun starts when the petrol engine kicks in. The i8 accelerates with impressive force, accompanied by a great noise from the engine and turbocharger. Despite the hi-tech powertrain, it feels like a traditional rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive car, such as the Alpine A110.”

“There’s nothing old-fashioned about the way the i8 handles, though. It felt very agile from the passenger seat, even on the snowy roads of our test. This is down to dynamic stability control, 50:50 weight distribution and how the flow of power to each axle is managed. Switch off the traction control completely, and the rear-drive set-up really comes into its own.”

The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid reportedly zips from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds and can post a top speed of 155 mph.  Power for the BMW i8 comes from a 126-kilowatt (170 horsepower) electric motor spinning the front wheels. Meanwhile, a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine rated at 233 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque will spin the i8’s rear wheels. Combined, horsepower peaks at 393 and torque at 406 pound-feet.  Specs are still tentative at this time and seem to change slightly on a monthly basis.

Fuel consumption (on the lenient EU cycle) is listed at 104.6 miles per imperial gallon (86 miles per US gallon).  Electric -only range is now pegged at 22 miles and charge time is less than 2 hours.  Curb weight is 3,263 pounds.

Expect the pricey BMW i8 to launch in the US in 2014 with an MSRP in the neighborhood of $130,000.

Oh.  Time for one last quote.   This time from the BMW engineer who piloted the i8 for this first ride:
“Believe me, it’s not easy for an M3 to follow this car.”
Video courtesy of evo Diaries featured below

First Ride Review via AutoExpress

Gallery: Double Click to Enlarge

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8 Comments on "First Rides of BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Confirm M3-Matching Capabilities (Video)"

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Electric only range of 22 miles isn’t great, but not terribly bad either. The real question is, what rating would it get by the EPA? Experience tells us it would be much lower. I’d bet 15 miles, putting it on par with the Prius Plug-in.

Another factor of having low EV range typically also means the battery is too small to deliver much power. So I bet all-electric mode is pretty dismal and any sort of decent acceleration probably requires ICE.

MSRP $130,000?? I’d rather buy a Tesla Model S.


Heck – by the time this thing’s optioned out – you could buy
a Tesla Model S – and a standard Prius ( any hybrid ) for long trips
– and still be ahead! Or buy the 60kw model and a Volt! This car
only seats 2 comfortably and you get that snotty 3 cyl. ( OK, still
in development ) sound when you punch it.

Again, the Volt – with an off-the-shelf, caste iron block 4 cyl., and
at a price less than $40k shows really how groundbreaking it is.

That cast iron block adds 7lbs vs aluminum, and retains heat better once it shuts off

It’s an attractive car ( but not $130,000 attractive ) that doesn’t seem
to hit any mark head on. Any enthusiastic accelerator tip in, and the
gas engine jumps to life – and in that , sounds like a small British
sports car or Mini Cooper with headers…so why would you buy it?
– So you can schizophrenically enjoy quiet thrust with a snotty
exhaust note to disrupt your zen experience? Testers of current BMWs
with the Stop/Start function claim that the transition is rougher and
noiser than other marques – so I hope they’ve handled this also….

This car looks like an experiment to me – with a market about the size
of Cadillac’s ELR – which is to say – rarified and tiny.

I used to be excited about this car before I had a Volt. Now I really have no interest in a car that, when floored, turns on its gas engine.

No gas engine=good
gas engine =bad

A production version of a plug-in hybrid sports car can work in Europe. It could meet the strict co2 standards in the cities, and still be able to blast down the motorway.


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