Up until now, the BMW i8 has been in a class of one. Sure, cars like the Porsche 918, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari are all very similar but those cars all cost over $1,000,000, so they really are in a class of their own as well. But as for the BMW i8, nothing even close to its price range can compete with its combination of performance, technology and efficiency. The BMW i8 has truly been the benchmark for hybrid supercars that don’t cost as much as small islands. Or is it anymore?
The new Acura NSX is here with a similar recipe to that of the BMW i8 and it lays down some pretty impressive credentials. With a mid-mounted 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine mated to an electric motor that drives the rear wheels through a nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox, as well as two electric motors at the front axle that power the front wheels, the NSX produces a combined 573 hp. That’s considerably more power than the BMW i8, though the NSX does weight about 400-500 lbs more.
While the BMW i8 is a car that’s meant to blur the line between supercar and hybrid, the NSX is clearly just meant to be a supercar. It’s ferociously fast, getting from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds and capable of reaching 191 mph. It also handles very well and uses its front motors to give it real-time torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, something that the BMW i8 has as well. Because of the NSX’s supercar nature, it can only get around 21 combined mpg, considerably less than the BMW i8’s 28.
Now, we’re not typically the type to say a car is better because it’s more fuel efficient. However, its efficiency does show the NSX’s more singular focus. Like the McLaren P1, the NSX is using hybrid technology only to improve performance, whereas the BMW i8 is using it as a platform for efficiency as well as performance. The BMW i8 is significantly more high-tech, it’s the science-lover’s supercar. The i8 packs a 1.5 liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine and electric motors as well, just like the NSX, producing a combined 357 hp which is far less than in the Acura. However, it weighs about 400 lbs less and can get from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds (according to Car and Driver). That is slower than the NSX but not by much and the i8 still crushes in the mpg department. The i8 can also go further in pure electric mode than the NSX. This shows that the BMW i8 is the more well-rounded car, one that can be more than just one thing.
It also shows that the i8 does more with less, which is sort of the whole idea of the car. Its carbon-fiber passenger cell is extremely light and made from renewable materials, its engine is tiny and efficient, yet the i8 is still almost as fast as the NSX. This is thanks to the brilliant engineering of the BMW i engineers and how they’ve created a sports car for the future, something that can be both crazy fast and incredibly efficient. The Acura NSX is a great car, one that shows how far we’ve come in the world of supercar performance. But the BMW i8 is a special car, one that shows us where we’re going. So while the Acura NSX is an amazing car in its own right, the BMW i8 is still in a class of one.