25 July 2016
Launched two years ago, it was the first BMW plug-in hybrid. But the i8, which continues to win awards for its innovative system of transmission based on the combination of a combustion engine and an electric motor, is not simply a hybrid car: it is a concentrate of cutting-edge technology (commencing with the use of CFRP, or Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic, for the central cradle), as well as a champion of lightness with its unladen weight of 1,485 kg – an extraordinary achievement if you think just of how much the whole hybrid drive weighs, with its lithium-ion battery, electric motor and transmission. It is an expression of the best in car design: doors that open like butterfly wings, a maximum height of 1.29 meters, compact measurements and a 2+2 passenger compartment: everything has been studied not just in aesthetic terms, but also in those of aerodynamics, to improve the flow of air and reduce fuel consumption. To take just one figure, the drag coefficient (Cd) is 0.26, a truly outstanding value. It has a TwinPower Turbo 1.499 liter 3 cylinder combustion engine rated at 164 kW, coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. The 96 kW electric motor drives the front wheels. When both engines are operating simultaneously at full power, the i8 is able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, with the fuel economy of a sedan and CO2 emissions of 49 g/km, a level unattainable by any city car powered by a combustion engine. Obviously, fuel consumption figures vary greatly with the driving mode: Comfort, Eco Pro or Sport (BMW claims an average range media of 600 km before the car has to be recharged). The design of the passenger compartment is also highly innovative, with three-dimensional graphics and a range indicator on the dashboard that changes color in relation to the setup chosen. There is an optional head-up display that projects all the information in front of the driver’s eyes, along the line of the hood. The i8 is fitted with the most modern active driver assistance systems, such as automatic adjustment of the headlights, an independent braking function in the case of a possible collision and BMW’s Speed Limit Info. BMW has recently developed the iPerformance technology, in which the i8 occupies a privileged place. This is a new concept that links mobility to connectivity and to the sportiness of the car, creating solutions that aim to combine the maximum of driving satisfaction with a very high level of sustainability. If there is going to be a supercar of the future, the i8 is in pole position.