SYDNEY: The super hybrid, BMW i8, has beaten all of its counterparts including Porsche, Prius and Aston Martin in speed and fuel efficiency.
It’s a big claim, but BMW says its new hero, the petrol-electric i8 coupe, has a range of superpowers that other sports cars don’t yet possess.
It is the German brand’s new technological flagship and the first of a guilt-free range of eco cars to arrive in Australia under its new i brand. With a price tag of A$299,000 ($336,109) plus on-road costs, it ‘bookended’ the immediate line-up at the opposite end to the i3 city car that launches next month, December.
BMW has yet to confirm precisely what will fit in between, but it is expected to create both an i-branded mid-sized sedan and compact SUV within the next few years.
Firstly, to see if the i8, which does look as though it has arrived from another planet, can lead BMW’s justice league to save the earth – and whether it lives up to the German brand’s hyperbole – we’re pitting it against the already established heroes of economy, performance and style.
FUEL EFFICIENCY: More importantly for this exercise, the Prius’ claimed average fuel consumption of 3.9L/100km is what the BMW has to beat.
The i8, in comparison, is more than twice as powerful and yet twice as efficient with a claim that it can consume just 2.1L/100km thanks mostly to its ability to plug-in and recharge the battery pack and then drive on its electric motor for around 37km – and up to 120km/h – without accessing its 1.5-litre turbo charged three cylinder engine. The Prius can also run on electricity, but only for short distances and at a maximum speed of 50km/h.
SPEED: i8 might not have a big engine like a conventional sports car, but its 1.5-litre triple generates a more than respectable 170kW at 5800rpm and 320Nm of torque at 3800Nm with the electric motor filling in the holes by adding an extra 96kW/250Nm, equating to a combined output of 266kW and 570Nm.
With that power spread over all four wheels – the petrol engine drives the rear through an eight-speed automatic and the electric motor sends power to the front with a two-speed gearbox – BMW says the i8 can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds.
Even though that doesn’t place it in genuine supercar territory, they are impressive numbers nonetheless. And ones that put it in the same league as a Porsche 911 Carrera – the iconic sports car with which all others, the i8 included, are ultimately compared.
The Porsche, despite having its engine hanging behind the rear axle, hangs on to the road with just as much tenacity but with much more charm and engagement.