Hot Wheels: The future is here, the future is now
The future is here, the future is now.Powered by an insane combination of electricity and petrol, BMW i8 burns more adrenaline than fuel
Powered by an insane combination of electricity and petrol, BMW i8 burns more adrenaline than fuel
When the BMW showcased its Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept in ‘Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol’, we never thought about the real one in any sense, even though Tom Cruise did say ‘Wait to see the car yet.’We waited, and now three years down the line, the car is here and has knocked on the doors of India. It was Sachin Tendulkar who opened the door for us and what we now have is a car borrowed from the future which is as green as Prius and as desirable as a Ferrari.
This is a car that would be featured in a Christopher Nolan’s Sci-fi. Must thank the BMW and the ensemble of some great engineers who gave the world, what is today acknowledged as the most progressive sportscar of the decade.Even in disguise, the i8 looks like a sportscar from the future. The stretched kidney grille makes sure that you don’t mistake this low-slung coupé for anything other than a BMW, but it’s at the rear where things get interesting, with the sharply cut haunches and flying buttresses creating a layered effect.
Another unmistakable sci-fi set of elements are the butterfly doors. The cabin is, of course, camouflaged and the only bits left uncovered are the familiar iDrive controller and gear selector, although it’s quite certain the interiors are going to look more than adequately futuristic. The i8 is the first production car to use high-tech Gorilla Glass, the kind that’s used on cell phones, on the rear screen for sound insulation. This thin piece of weight-saving glass is scratch resistant and incredibly tough.
When you start up the i8, it doesn’t fire up like a conventional sportscar and there’s only a soft chime telling you that you’re ready to go. It is powered by an alliance of a compact 1.5-litre, 228hp three-cylinder petrol motor and a 96kW (129hp) electric motor. It gets BMW’s familiar driving modes, and the default setting is Comfort, or the middle of three hybrid settings. With the battery sufficiently topped up, you can pull away under electric power alone, the compact motor driving the front wheels. Press the throttle and the petrol engine behind you immediately kicks in and the effect is a combined 357hp driving all four wheels. The way the three-cylinder engine revs is pretty smooth but entirely seamless.
In Sport mode, the 1.5-litre motor doesn’t disengage, and what you get is all-out performance along with sharper steering and throttle response. Acceleration is fantastic and you can easily believe the 0-100kph claim of 4.5 seconds. But it’s the utterly seamless way the i8 rockets forward that is undoubtedly fascinating. There is no lag at all, and with the electric motor delivering maximum torque instantly, you can imminently feel that strong and linear tug. And then there is accompanying sound thats equally exhilarating.
Though the whole sports feel is not upto the standards of super cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder, Mclaren P1, or the LaFerrari, which explode and rumble with combined 900 horses under their electric-petrol carbon fibre sheets. BMW could have done the same by replacing the rear petrol engine, which is the one also in a Mini Cooper and had thrown a V10 or V12 into it, but then it wasn’t about throwing a fastest exotic on the bloc, the philosophy was different.
To conclude, the world we live in is changing and a changing world constantly demands new ideas. The global automotive industry is witnessing a paradigm shift from the conventional combustion engine to sustainable mobility solutions. And, so is India. This iconic change is inevitable.
The BMW i8 embodies a revolutionary, future-focused interpretation of the driving pleasure for, which the brand is known for. It is purpose-designed as a plug-in hybrid sports car offering agile performance and outstanding efficiency as much as 47kmpl. The car is available at an all India ex-showroom price of Rs 2.29 crore.
By Augustin Kurian