Life is everything but ordinary in BMW i8
Photo Malene Raith
"Okay, that's a first," I mumble bewildered, but nevertheless I lift my hand and wave back.
It takes time to get used to. That’s why I at first don’t realize that it is actually me, or rather; my car, that the noisy trucker salute is directed to. But as the big truck passes me at the intersection with the driver grinning, waving and giving thumbs-up, there is no doubt.
And this is just the beginning. There’s much more to come.
Because when you are behind the wheel of the futuristic super car, BMW i8, the world around you changes behavior. Expect people to stop you in the supermarket to ask you about the thing you are driving. Family, friends and unknown neighbors will suddenly drop by, and everyones pitch rises a half to one octave as you drive down the street in the i8.
And it is not without reason. For once a car manufacturer have had the courage to build and produce a vehicle that actually resembles the, in this case, beautyful concept.
Normally the conceptcars that you meet at the motor shows are futuristic and dynamic with a design that dreams are made of. But the finished product always end up as a neutral family box with perhaps just a single exciting line on the rear still intact.
But BMW i8 is obviously different. Except for some lines and larger side mirrors (note also how it is divided into black and white to match the vehicle lines) the car is almost the same as the concept.
This also applies to the technology.
BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid, which many (and trust me, I spoke to a lot of people about cars while testing this one) mistakenly believe is an electric car with a small gasoline engine.
Perhaps its little sister, the BMW i3 Rex, is the reason why, but big brother BMW i8 is a petrol car, supported by a small electric motor with a battery, which both can be charged at home and "pick up" energy from driving.
The electric motor is located in front and has 131 horsepower, drawing on the front wheels, and a range of 37 kilometers on pure electric power.
The gasoline engine is placed at its rear (3 cylinder 1.5 liter turbo) with its 231 horsepower, drawing on the rear wheels.
It not only provides a total output of 362 horsepower, it also provides a really awesome grip as I hit the gas.
The range of 37 km on pure electricity does basically not sound of much, but in addition to the petrol engine, it actually gives a total consumption, for those who drive as a nice girl scout, at 47.6 km per liter!
And although I quickly empty the battery with my tendency to accelerate wildly and drive with high speed on the motorway, I still generate new energy when the car is rolling. And that actually gives me a new range of the silent and environmental friendly electric driving, that I can use in town. Brilliant!
BMW i8 is fairly wide, so you have to be aware of the rims and the rear end as you maneuver around in city traffic, and when you come too close, the car warns you and show you the surroundings on the screen.
And the BMW i8 is also, as sports cars should be, wonderfully low.
That of course requires a little guidance in how to enter your car, maintaining your cool and avoiding looking clumsy or worse: insulting your audience (and yes, you have one all the time) if you are wearing a tight dress or skirt.
Open the door and mind your head, then turn your back to the car and slide gracefully into the seat, then rotate with your legs together and place them under the steering wheel – et viola!
The simple interior of the BMW i8 is both futuristic and classic BMW.
The lines on the dashboard, the bright blue moldings and chrome details make it seem fluent and exclusive, and yet I immediately recognise the joystick for the automatic transmission, and the knob for the infotainment system.
Once you are in here everything is easy and innovative from buttons, that lets you run on pure power (eDrive), Sport, Comfort or Eco- mode to the controls of the infotainment system.
In front of me, I have a colorful display that changes according to your driving mode, and give you information about reach and your way of driving.
BMW i8 is simply streamlined, elegant and brilliantly rethought in the design from the inside out.
A piece of automobil art that fascinates the audience wherever it appears.
And I haven’t even mentioned the most breathtaking part yet: The doors.
Some call them ”swan wings”. I, however, am in favor of ”butterfly wings”, because the door hinges are placed like the wings of an insect. And where ”scissor doors” slides, and ”gull wing” doors flap up, these doors open out and up.
It looks so stunning that I at no time roll down the window, when I meet friends and acquaintances on the street. No, I stop and open the door instead.
The carbon build car is also the first series produced car with laser light, which of course is another point where the beautiful vehicle even in the dark stand out from other cars.
The driving experience behind the wheel is dynamic, in a way only BMW can make it, and combined with the fantastic silent acceleration of the electric motor, that feels like it’s almost pressing g's, it’s impossible to be in a bad mood.
When I place it in sports mode, there’s a bit more aggressive noise from the engine. But only in my honor, as it is artificially generated. Maybe I'm hopelessly old-fashioned, but that kind of neighboor friendly noise, doesn’t quite do the trick for me.
There is room for your everyday shopping in the trunk, and if you need more room, you can use the rear seat, that I actually succeeded in entering, although I mostly resembled an artistic installation.
Children can sit here, but my son prefer the front seat. And indeed it is from here the fascinating BMW i8 should be experienced.
Driving the BMW i8 is like driving an international superstar, where people even in Porsches, Aston Martins and Maseratis turn their heads when you pass them in traffic.
A stop for a red light will make you experience the strange behavior of pedestrians, that hurry to find thier cell phones and discreetly film and photograp the car as they walk across the road.
"Can I just take a picture," is the phrase that you’ll encounter the most in your daily life, even when you have long since become accustomed to trucker greetings and new friends.
BMW i8 draw people in with its futuristic dynamic design and make it impossible to be discreet anywhere. Are you a very sociable kind of person this is your dream car. And even if you are not, BMW i8 is your dream car anyway.
Because you’ll quickly learn how to become it.
0-100 km / h in 4.4 seconds
Top speed: 250 km / h
Kilometers per liter: 47.6