The BMW i8 has performed the role of sports car of the future with extraordinary success since the day it was launched. The 2+2-seater doubles up as an eye-catching object of desire and a technological masterpiece. The i8 has been the world’s highest-selling hybrid sports car since its launch in 2014. It has collected an array of awards in recognition of its visionary design and concept. But the context for India is quiet different. With a sticker price of INR 3 crore, does it justify itself? We at MotorOctane take this new hybrid vehicle for a spin and unfold the million-dollar price tag question. Read further as the mystery unfolds.
BMW i8: The Exterior
The proportions, lines and surface design mark out the BMW i8 Coupe as a new breed of sports car. A flat bonnet, visible aerodynamics measures, short overhangs, a long wheelbase, large track width and an elongated roofline to create an aura of dynamism, lightness and efficiency. The design cues that stand out especially include the gull wing doors. Optimized aerodynamics have the low bonnet, almost totally blanked off BMW kidney grille, air flap control system, air Curtains in the front apron, sealed underbody, contoured side skirts, “stream flow” lines of the car’s flanks, and air ducts between the rear lights and roof frame. This allows the air to be channeled extremely effectively. The flow of cooling air at the front has now been rerouted. Instead of rushing out through the outlet in the bonnet, the air escapes at the sides of the car near the wheel arches and into the underbody.
Nothing unnecessary is added in the pursuit of being light and thanks to its carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell. The BMW i8 sets new standards for a plug-in hybrid vehicle in terms of low weight. On an individual level, the BMW i8 Coupe stands out as an extremely sporty 2+2-seater. But it does not give one the air of flair or pizzazz say an Italian car would offer at this price point if you are out hunting for a supercar.
Everything is tactile and only there for a reason. But all of it’s not necessarily beautiful. Some while looking at the rest of the BMW line-up might think it’s too technical and complicated than its internal combustion siblings that are not made from exciting bits like it is.
In addition to the standard 20-inch turbine-style light-alloy wheels fitted on the new BMW i8 Coupe, customers can choose from another four light-alloy wheel variants with the same dimensions. The BMW i8 Coupe also includes a model-specific design feature indicating its identity: “Coupe” badging on its C-pillars.
BMW i8: The Interior
And here is where we are back in business. Familiar BMW buttons, gauges and style dominate the cabin. Obviously there are the bright blue highlights across the cabin to let you know that the car is not an ordinary BMW. You are in the best hybrid car BMW makes. Standard specification includes a sports steering wheel and multifunctional instrument display, plus Carpo interior trim comprising full-leather upholstery in Ivory White.
Getting in is easier than I thought and once inside you feel perfectly normal and not at all indifferent from say an M3 in the driver’s seat. You do begin the entry into the car by sitting on the carbon-fibre door frame and then collapse yourself into the seat and finally pull your legs inside. The same cannot be said for the rear seat in this car. Owners will never use them to invite guests so that they can experience the BMW i8. They will obviously be used for additional storage in the car.
Speaking of storage, the car does not have any kind of storage in its gull-wing doors, which makes the rear seat and its 2 cup holders a useful asset. Also the glove box is tiny, enough to keep the papers of the car and the owner’s manual, which is handy when you are baffled by your i8. The boot in the i8 is behind the engine and is great to keep a medium sized travel bag if it fits along with your charging cables and connector. The interiors do not feel anything close to being special as the outside. The BMW i8 is a beauty to look at. but the interiors aren’t that appealing. As a complete a great package minus the ground clearance. We reckon if you need a style statement, this is the car for you.
This 2018 edition also receives improved electronics, with iDrive 6.0 (including Apple CarPlay) and an updated and more useful HUD display in Sport, manual shift mode. The Harman Kardon speakers are really good.
BMW i8: The Drive
So how is it to drive? Let me begin with the hybrid system quickly. The BMW i8 Coupe is powered by a drive duo in the form of a hybrid synchronous electric motor and a three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. The combustion engine’s power is channeled to the rear wheels through a six-speed gearbox. The performance of this engine is amazing, as the petrol motor and electric one together churn about 357bhp of power. This makes it an exciting package to consider.
The electric motor has a range of 36 kilometres on a single charge. With the petrol hybrid combination, there is sufficient power in it. Overall there is more than sufficient pull from the engine, like any other sports car. This is a mid-engine car and hence it has good enough performance too.
BMW i8: Verdict
So should you get yourself a INR 3 crore, all-wheel drive hybrid. Let me tell explain it to you by using a performance statistic. The acceleration from 0-100 is completed in 4.4 seconds which in today’s world is not really supercar territory. It’s not even the fastest BMW. But it’s not slow. Yes a similarly priced, comparable Porsche 911, Lamborghini Huracan or a Mercedes-AMG GTR will trash it in a straight line and humiliate it around a track.
With the i8 you are buying a lifestyle, people might think you are wiser. Sachin Tendulkar has one and this is a man who owned a Ferrari 360 Modena and a Nissan GTR. The i8 puts out a different kind of statement about you to the world. It’s the car for the day you want to turn up to a meeting and be taken seriously. The car for a grown-up that has experienced all. The car someone who has exhausted his inhibitions and is more enlightened will drive.