The BMW i8 Really is the Sports Car of the Future: Review

Pre-2000, the words ‘hybrid’ and ‘supercar’ never really showed up in the same sentence, unless there was a distinguishable ‘not’ somewhere in between the two. But it seems like hybrid supercars are more normal now than ever. The McLaren P1, the Porsche 918 and the Ferrari LaFerrari, for example, are the three heaviest hybrid hitters the world has ever seen. If you’re not willing to spend seven figures on a hybrid supercar, though, head a little downmarket and you’ll come face to face with the BMW i8. No, it doesn’t have a billion horsepower or a track-only homologation, but it does have a lot of other things going for it. The one thing I can absolutely vouch for is that it looks damn good. We’re a long way from the Toyota Prius in terms of hybrid design. RELATED: See More of the 362HP BMW i8 The front end is sophisticated and not too overbearing. The double kidney grille is nothing more than a plastic shield, further conveying to curious onlookers that there’s more electricity surging under the hood than gasoline. The back end is less sophisticated. It’s a random mishmash of parts that work in some angles and don't work in others. That rear third-quarter keeps this concept car looks alive, though, with the separated fender and all. That's one of the biggest selling points of its design. But it's under this eye-catching design where all the magic happens. Carbon fiber is a huge element of this car's construction. Actually, it's pretty much the centerpiece. Supercars like the P1 and LaFerrari have it, but there aren't a lot of cars on sale today that deliver an extensive carbon fiber construction and keep the price well within reach of the "average" consumer. The i8 accomplishes both of these things with flying colors. RELATED: See Photos of the BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Special Edition Speaking of flying — let's talk about those doors. I mean seriously, would you expect anything less on a car that looks this futuristic to begin with? I’m not going to bore you with all the technicalities of it, but BMW went through a lot of steps to make these work the way they do. Lots of steps involving injection molded plastic and even more carbon fiber. So you get the concept design, the completely necessary doors, and a heavy amount of carbon fiber on the body. But the real question is: does it go as good as it looks? Starting the thing up, it sounds like you’re manning the cockpit of a spaceship in a cheesy sci-fi movie. It’s lovably ridiculous. The idea is that since you’re driving “the future of the sports car” it might as well sound like it too. Once it’s on, pull back the gear lever, put it in drive, and listen to the sound of your own heartbeat as the battery pack putters it along almost in silence. It’s not until you shift into Sport mode or go above second gear do you actually hear the turbocharged 1.5-liter engine kick in. But when it does, it’s pretty gnarly. In Sport, the instrument cluster turns red because why wouldn’t it? The noise inside goes from a near dead silence to an attractive rumble. All the while the suspension of the i8 gets stiffer and the steering more responsive. You know, like a sports car. Problem is, when you slam your foot down on the gas it doesn’t go like it should. Whereas cars like the Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911 Turbo run off to 60 like they’ve got something to prove, the i8 gives it about a half a second before all the proper mechanics kick and really give you all that sweet, sweet electric torque. A nice launch nonetheless, but a little sluggish feeling relative to the competition. RELATED: See Photos of the Original BMW i8 Concept You’ll get there in about 4.0 seconds by our watch. It’s impressive, yes, but you sort of get that feeling that if there were an turbocharged inline six under the hood, this thing would get up and go about as quick as the GT-R or 911 Turbo, if not quicker. And then there’s the handling. If you’re not in Sport mode, it’s comfortably boring. Not a complaint, really, more of a "critical observation,” let’s call it. Imagine a Tesla Model S with less doors. The electric steering feels lifeless, and the hybrid engine doesn’t give you all the pep you deserve in a $130,000 sports car. Putting out 357 horsepower and 420 pound feet or torque— it’s not slow, but it’s not fast either. The GT-R and 911 Turbo, for about the same price, will give give you more to love around corners and in straight lines. But here’s the truth— the i8 deserves more credit than the enthusiast in me gives it. It’s not a really great sportscar, granted, but it’s an utterly fantastic everything else. The i8 really is the future of performance, whether I like it or not. The technology in this car alone would lend you to believe that it’s from another century. The design is completely revolutionary, and there’s nothing — I mean nothing — that can compete for the price when factoring in the hybrid drivetrain. BMW's first hybrid sports car may not be perfect, but when you think about just how much better it can get from here— the future of the sports car sounds like a future I want to live in. RELATED: See Photos of the BMW i8 Spyder Concept Specs: Engine: 1.5L 3-Cylinder Turbo Hybrid Horsepower: 362 0-60: 4.0 Seconds Price: $135,700 Positives: Concept car looks Comfortable cabin Revolutionary engineering Negatives: Lifeless handling Difficult getting in and out ________________________________________ Click Here to Read the Original Article on BoldRide

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