The BMW i8 is many things, it’s a sports car, it’s an economy car and it’s a grand touring car. But what it isn’t is a racing car. When thinking about drag racing some of the highest performing cars on the market, the BMW i8 doesn’t rush to mind as the first choice. However, tuning company, Manhart, tends to think that the i8 is pretty good on the track.
Manhart has actually tuned a couple of BMW i8s, so this isn’t the first time. However, this particular Manhart i8 is put up against some serious performance cars at both the drag strip and the track and it does far better than expected. The funny part about this i8 is that most of the tuning is cosmetic. The only performance tuning is the exhaust, which sounds delicious despite coming from just 1.5 liters.
The cars this BMW i8 goes up against are cars that you’d never expect to lost to the i8. First up is a tuned BMW 1 Series M. The 1 Series M is a fast car and one that beats most other performance cars in its class. However it gets absolutely munched by the Manhart BMW i8, especially off the line where the 1M struggles for grip but the i8’s all-wheel drive and electric torque launch it off the line with little drama. Regardless of winner, listening to the two fly down the strip is a treat.
Next up agains the i8 is a tuned first-generation Porsche Cayman S. The Cayman fairs better than the 1M but still loses, as the BMW i8’s extra horsepower and ultra light weight are just too much for the Cayman to handle.
After the Cayman comes a McLaren 12C that does end up beating the i8 but not by as much as you’d imagine. The 600 plus horsepower McLaren can beat pretty much anything in a drag race, so there’s no shame in the i8 losing to it. However, it’s admirable how well it kept up.
The BMW i8 was never designed to be a drag racer, nor was it really every designed to dominate a race track, but it can do both far better than anticipated. This just goes to show the quality of engineering that is baked into the i8, that despite its more economical roots, it can still hang with hardcore performance cars. The BMW i8 can now add racing car to its already impressive resume.