First drive: the BMW i8
BMW's future-proof hybrid sports car is finally here, and we've driven it. But what's it actually like?
Posted: 26 Apr 2014
So it actually work as a sports car?
For the most part, like a charm. In sports mode, using the paddle shifters, it disguises its hybridness entirely. It'll leap ahead with lag that's barely perceptible. Honestly it does an amazing impression of a 340bhp big six, rather than a 231bhp little triple. In sport mode some of the engine's natural frequencies are amplified through the hi-fi, and it's a strong, gutteral sound. The real pity is it doesn't rev beyond 6500, and for some reason its shifts up by itself on the red-line, even if you're in manual mode.
Even when the battery is pretty much depleted, by the way, you still get all the power of petrol plus electric. Remember, you never drive any car flat-out all the time, and so in the i8 (and any other hybrid), when all the engine's power isn't needed, spare is syphoned off to charge the battery just enough that for the next squirt of acceleration you can have the full petrol-plus-electric beans.
Is it 911 fast? Doesn't feel quite at that level. You don't get the high-rev drama or violence. But it's ruddy quick, be in no doubt. I believe the 4.4sec 0-62mph claim, because traction's so good.