The car’s suspension is quite awesome, too. While it is unable to completely cancel out the effects of America’s less-than-smooth roads, it keeps all four wheels well-acquainted with the tarmac at all times.
Catapulted around the winding Mulholland, the i8 kept its cool and betrayed a soft screech only once. Of course, its wide tracks (rear wider than the Ferrari F12’s) and specially developed tyres help, too.
To minimise the chances of things going sideways, this BMW is packed to the gills with electronic aids. On top of fairly common systems such as traction control, dynamic stability control, cornering brake control and dynamic brake control, it has brake assist, brake standby, brake drying function, fading compensation and active differential brake.
It is also equipped with something called “driving dynamic impellent torque pre-control” and e-traction. Both mimic the effects of all-wheel-drive, via the car’s electric drivetrain rather than with differentials. This enhances the grip of individual front wheels, especially when entering into a tight corner.
But BMW has forgotten one gadget: automatic hold. And the test car displayed what felt like transmission shunt when moving off in electric mode – twice. The jarring symptom could not be duplicated further, and BMW engineers at hand could not explain it.
Perhaps it is just one of those early manufacturing glitches that often hound carmakers, especially when new technologies are employed. And the i8 has more than its fair share of new tech. The task of making its engine, motor and starter-generator “talk” to one another is itself monumentally daunting.
But the mere fact that BMW is able to realise this revolutionary sports car in just 38 months (from design studio to factory floor) speaks volumes. It may not feel exactly like what you would expect a high-performance Bimmer to feel like at the wheel, but then again, there has never been a Bimmer like it before.
Indeed, the Bavarian company has been very brave to embark on this quest to make such an unconventional sports car. Hopefully, consumers who are brave enough to buy one will be rewarded with lots of attention, surprising performance and a clear conscience.
BMW i8 1.5 (A)
ENGINE 1499cc, 12-valves, inline-3, plug-in hybrid
MAX POWER 230bhp at 5800rpm
(motor 130bhp at 4800rpm)
MAX TORQUE 320Nm at 3700rpm
(motor 250Nm at 0-3850rpm)
POWER TO WEIGHT 242.4bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 6-speed automatic with manual select
(2-speed for electric motor)
0-100KM/H 4.4 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 47.6km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 49g/km (from engine)
PRICE INCL. COE $590,888 after $10k VES rebate (as of February 2018)