In this blog I will explain the chain of events that culminated in me doing something I almost never do! Admitting I was wrong…. I am often guilty of deciding about something or indeed someone and then that is it. Done. However, on this occasion I simply had no choice but to stand back and think….”, that thing is bloody awesome!”
The vehicle I am talking about is the BMW i8.
When this car was first launched, I drove it for about twenty minutes, and I was completely underwhelmed. I described it at the time as a “moderately fast milk float” and how wrong I was. I hated how hard it was to get in and out, the visibility is poor, it doesn’t make a very sporty noise and all the faffing with modes was just annoying. I spat my dummy out and jumped back in the M4 full of childish glee. I didn’t realise at the time I was being a coward. I was happy in the M4 because it was what I knew. What I was familiar with. This mind set gets us nowhere though. With this narrowmindedness we don’t innovate or progress.
Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899. Mr. Deull’s most famous attributed utterance is that “everything that can be invented has been invented.” How wrong he was!
So, I fall on my sword and say that once I took the time to understand the i8 I fell for it massively. Starting with the design. Few cars out there are as sculpted and futuristic as the i8. It turns more heads than some cars I have driven that cost considerably more! One thing I will confess is a love / hate relationship with the doors. You will rarely feel cooler than raising a gullwing door to climb into a sports car but when the muppet next to you in Sainsburys parks too close and you must wait 15 minutes for them to return it is no longer cool. I even felt cool with my son in his car seat next to me in the front and that is saying something! I won’t complain about the luggage space and so on because if that’s your issue shut up and go buy a people carrier. One dull thing about the car that did impress however is over a full weekend of normal driving mixed with hooliganism it did 30MPG. For a car with more torque than a Ferrari 458 you can’t complain at that!
All the statistics and niggles with this car aside the main thing must be the actual experience and that is something to be marvelled at. The all-wheel drive system as always with BMW is superb and the mechanical grip from the car is excellent. The main thing that makes this car so much fun is the immediacy of the acceleration at normal speeds. 40MPH following a slow coach on a back road, gap, throttle and the way this car surges forward is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Bizarrely bury the throttle and the kick down process hinders the immediacy of the car. A progressive squeeze of the throttle in sport mode fully utilises the torque of the batteries for what can only be described as a leap down the road. You are past whoever was frustrating you in the blink of an eye and with the speed the next corner approaches the frustration at them spoiling your fun evaporates almost immediately.
When you drive the i8 sensibly but in sport mode you replenish the batteries making the need to plug the car in almost redundant. This is a big plus as the Achilles heel for owning an electric car for me would be all the cables and time etc etc. Just don’t fancy that but this is me again being stuck in my ways.
I saw the new 3 series for the first-time last week, it felt far more opulent than the i8 I must say. The i8’s budget clearly focused on cutting edge engineering and moving the paradigm forward for how we will get about in the future. BMW achieved this I have to say but it does leave the interior a little lacking. Silly little things like a manual steering column adjustment in a car of the value just seems wrong.
Overall the i8 is a stunning piece of engineering which made me completely rethink my opinion. Cars like these are the future, but how far into the future remains to be seen. With Formula E gaining popularity and most hyper cars now using hybrid technology the path ahead is becoming clearer. Hypocritically we must embrace and accept change, the i8 makes this transition appealing as the driving experience is smooth and “mile crunching” in one mode resulting in almost silent progress but then at the touch of a button the moving parts jump into life and the car will be a hooligan should that be your mood.
Like the “M” range from BMW the adaptability of these vehicles to your preference that day is truly admirably. The PlayStation generation of motorists can’t really ask for more.
I do think there is work to be done on cars like the i8, innovation should never cease but the i8 is an enormous leap into the future and the future my friends is bright.
THE AUTO VIP.