In part 1 of our road trip in Romania, you could read about Bucharest’s semi-anarchic traffic and the BMW 340i we drove around. We had just exchanged it for a BMW i8 in order to head to Sinaia where a Concours d’Elegance awaited us.
The exhibition in Sinaia was hosted at the previously royal castle of Castelul Peles. BMW Romanias PR Manager, Alex Seremet, had made himself worthy of praise since he had managed to get a number of classic BMW-models shipped all the way from the BMW museum in Munich.
The one which caused most commotion was certainly the 328 Mille Miglia Roadster, followed by the Z1, E36 M3 GT, E23 745i, and E32 750i. Alex was the host for the Concours itself which was won by Ion Tiriac’s (Romania’s richest man, more about him later) Cadillac Series 90 V16 and was held entirely in Romanian. Marcus and I naturally didn’t understand a single word of what was said but could nevertheless find joy in the delightful castle setting and the beautiful vintage cars.
After having melted halfway to death as a consequence of the murderous sun which refused to hide behind a cloud, we headed for the mountains together with Alex Sobran of Petrolicious who also attended the exhibition. He had never driven a BMW i8 so of course, we offered to take him with us instead of riding in the backseat of a 30-year-old 7-series. Marcus and I discretely discussed (read embarrassingly explicitly) who should have to fold themselves into the microscopic “back seat”. Once again my length saved me from the sad demise which my colleague had to face.
The drive went towards a mountain road with a name which sounded something like “Transbabushka” (TransBucegi for those who want to go there). So far, the conversation with Alex from Petrolicious had been most rewarding but suddenly the road became narrower and curvier, and narrower and curvier, and narrower and curvier. We had reached Transbabushka were it was situated right between the mountains, with no evidence of having any purpose or goal. Hairpin followed hairpin and our smiles widened across our faces.
We quickly noticed that the BMW i8 is a splendid car to go eco-driving with. After all, it’s equipped with three driving modes wherein the most important is the sport-setting. With it activated, the three-cylinder petrol engine works together with the two electric engines to deliver as much performance as possible. The total output of 362 horsepower may not sound like much but the fact of the matter is that the i8 is tremendously responsive thanks to the electric engines.
Best of all, the batteries are charged more the harder one drives. BMW has, in other words, managed to turn inspired driving into something virtuous since one can then drive wholly on electricity which is completely incomprehensible but at the same time marvelous. On top of that, one can see how the electric range increases rapidly which no other plug-in hybrid gets even remotely close to.
When the road ceased to climb, we were rewarded with a mesmerizing vista which was reminiscent of the landscapes of Scotland. The roads became better and better and suddenly it all ended, just like that. There was nothing else to do but to drive back down again. “Oh no”. Something that should be pointed out is that the BMW i8 has remarkably skinny tires which means that it doesn’t have as much as grip when cornering as a Nissan GT-R but that’s beside the point. The BMW i8 is a sports car with UFO-ambition, and no one can ever state that it hasn’t managed to succeed with exactly that.