BMW i8 Prototype – First Drive

BMW i | August 7th, 2013 by 12

Autocar UK test drives a BMW i8 prototype. The new BMW i8 goes on sale next year and it’s rumored to be priced at around …

Autocar UK test drives a BMW i8 prototype.

The new BMW i8 goes on sale next year and it’s rumored to be priced at around 100,000 euros.

Pairing an exceptionally lightweight, aerodynamically optimized body with cutting-edge BMW eDrive technology, a compact, turbocharged 1.5-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine and intelligent energy management, the BMW i8 marks the next stage in the evolution of the Efficient Dynamics strategy.

BMW i8 images 01 655x436

It can operate solely on electric power, which means no tailpipe emissions, and offers the dynamic performance of a sports car, with an expected 0 – 60 mph sprint time under 4.5 seconds.

Here is an excerpt from the review:

I drove the i8 on BMW’s Miramas test track in France. On the infield handling course and surrounding roads, it immediately dispelled any lingering doubts about its ability to deliver truly engaging driving traits. It is extremely agile, with somewhat light but extremely direct electro-mechanical steering. You can sense the low centre of gravity in the way the futuristic looking coupé enthusiastically turns in to corners. Its dynamic properties are characterised by an inherent responsiveness, nimbleness and light-footedness to the handling, which immediately stands out as one of the new car’s strengths.

There is very little body movement as lateral forces rise, although its ability to carry serious speed through corners is limited by the current state of chassis tune, which clearly favours understeer – something it tended to do quite early on the freshly laid bitumen of the BMW test track. It’s nothing too troubling, mind. But when the rest of the car is so well sorted, the deficiency in front-end bite tends to be magnified, and it quickly had the DSC (dynamic stability control) working as we began to push the i8 hard through corners.

BMW’s engineering team says the understeer is partly down to the characteristics of the specially developed Bridgestone Potenza tyres. They boast relatively soft side walls and are engineered to deliver low rolling resistance for maximum efficiency, even with the optional rubber. Still, this is an engineering mule, not a pre-production prototype, and predictably BMW says there are developments in the pipeline that will provide the definitive production version of the i8 with greater mid-corner purchase than the example we sampled.

The good news – no, the great news – is that you can dial back the threshold of the DSC and rely on it’s the prodigious torque developed by the front electric motor and combustion engine to kick out the tail in low-to-medium-speed corners, allowing you to straighten the line when conditions permit. So it is progressive, but there’s also a good deal of adjustability in the chassis as well.

Full review