Autoblog test drives a BMW i8 prototype at the BMW testing facility in Miramas, France.
The BMW i8’s plug-in hybrid system is specific to this model. A 1.5 liter three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology is combined with an electric drive system and a lithium-ion battery which can be recharged at a standard household power socket. The 231 hp (170 kW) gasoline engine sends its power to the rear wheels, while the 131 hp (96 kW) electric motor powers the front wheels.
This configuration offers all-electric driving capability with a range of up to approx. 22 miles (35 kilometers) and a top speed of approximately 75 mph (120 km/h). With both drive systems engaged, it also offers road-hugging all-wheel-drive performance with powerful acceleration and dynamic torque vectoring during sporty cornering. The more powerful of the two powerplants drives the rear wheels.
Calculated using the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the average fuel efficiency of the BMW i8 at model launch will be less than 2.5 liters/100 km, which equates to approximately 95 miles per US gallon, with CO2 emissions of less than 59 grams per kilometer.
It will take the BMW i8 4.5 seconds to run from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph).
Here is an excerpt from their review:
The i8 is expressly not a racecar, nor is it a Nürburgring lap time record hunter. And although such shenanigans will doubtlessly be mentioned eventually, they are not at all a priority at launch. This is a street car and, according to the BMW i team, it needed to be maximized as such. For now, at least, leave the Nürburgring boasts to the M division.
Electric range can vary widely based on how the i8 is driven, of course, and the topmost speed allowed for the e-motor/front-wheel-drive mode is 75 mph. With everything up and running, though, top speed is let out to 155 mph, and acceleration to 60 mph can happen in under 4.5 seconds. That’s pretty great for a “boring old” hybrid, we’d say. And the feeling while doing all of this in the sport seat is almost-M-sensation terrific. The steering is ultra-electrified, yet at the same time, very precise. When switching to Sport, the dampers automatically switch to a more rigid setting, yet we enjoyed the ride over both smooth surfaces and imperfect pavement. Braking – quite the regenerative affair, of course – is immediate and sure, aided by the standard, very light and aero-friendly forged 20-inch wheels.