The 2015 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid goes beyond smart and borders on brilliant, with plenty of power to complement the sports car handling, which is enhanced by the perfect 50/50 front to rear weight ratio. This is an everyday driver and not a race car, but it will keep up to all but the highest performance vehicles available today in any price range. This car has traditional BMW features, to announce its pedigree, like its predecessor the all-electric i3 city car, but the i8 looks like a BMW that has returned from the future.
The vehicle is 184. 6 inches (4,689 mm) long, 76.5 inches (1,943 mm) wide and 51 inches (1,295.4 mm) tall with a center of balance only 18 inches (457 mm) from the ground. The cabin shell or life modual is made from unseen plain looking plastic reinforced carbon fiber (C.F.) with space age plastic, composite and metal panels layered on its exterior. Finished panels of aluminum sheath the lite weight C.F. gull wing doors outer side with the whole pod sitting on an aluminium frame. The interior is crafted from recycled materials where possible and these also have a layered looking finish. The curb weight of the i8 is 3,285 lbs. or 1490 kg- about 100 lbs (45 kg) less than the new Corvette.
Seating for two in front is roomy and the rear seating area can hold two as well, but only a child would be comfortable there for any length of time. The driver has an 8.8 inch touch screen mounted on the dash with the main control system in a console. The steering wheel holds the cruise control buttons on the left side with the right side dedicated to audio controls.
Located behind the passenger compartment is a BMW engineered three cylinder 1.5 liter Turbo-charged gasoline engine delivering 231 hp (172.2 kW) to the rear wheels almost via the six speed automatic transmission. The BMW engineered three cylinder takes the i8 from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds or 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds.
This is the same engine that is under the hood of the new Mini. The electric motor is rated at 129 hp (96.2 kW) and transfers the power to the front wheels with a two speed automatic transmission. The combined torque of the electric motor and the engine delivered to each set of drive wheels is 420 ft-lb (570 nm), but there is no mechanical connection between the two systems; they operate independently of each other.
The top speed of the vehicle is up to158 mph (255 km/h) with the gas engine and a top speed of 75 mph (120.7 km/h) under electric power. The i8 has a 310 mile (499 km) range under normal conditions and will achieve 94 mpg (40 km/Liter) in combined city/highway driving. City driving will take you 22 miles (35.4 km) under battery power, when the gasoline engine will kick in automatically. The liquid cooled lithium-ion battery pack has 96 cells and can be plugged in to recharge which takes 3.5 hours with 110 volts, but slightly less than half that time with 220 volts and the level II charger.
There are four “world class” trim levels of the BMW i8 Coupe; the entry level MegaWorld could be had for $137,450.00, GigaWorld packing sticker price of $200,000.00, ParaWorld would cost an additional $100,000.00, and the appropriately named top of the line ImpulseWorld will set you back a bit more.