BMW has launched its flagship plug-in hybrid supercar, the i8, in India. Sold and marketed under a separate ‘i’ brand, the new i8 is BMW’s first attempt to combine performance and environment-friendly technologies in one package. In India, BMW has put an ex-showroom price tag of Rs 2.29 crore on the i8, and will sell it exclusively through BMW i-dealers in Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi.
Showcased first at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW i8 began its life as the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept. The production variant was first unveiled in June 2014. The i8 incorporates extensive use of lightweight materials like aluminium, composite carbon fibre and polycarbonate glass as seen on the concept model.
The BMW i8 takes a completely new dimension on the styling front. While it’s a two-door sports coupe, its design is futuristic in comparison to other supercars in the market. At first, you may find its design a bit fussy, but when you notice the details behind each of the fluidic lines on its body, you simply cannot stop marveling it. Every single curve and cut on its exterior is designed to make it more aerodynamic and slippery.
The front portion is all brash and sporty like any current BMW. It features BMW’s signature kidney grille that runs over to the slim and futuristic LED headlights. The handle-free ‘scissor’ doors give it a distinctive and modern look. The side profile of the i8 carries a similar aerodynamic theme and sports a sleeker look with swoops and cuts. The floating roof design at the rear makes it look even more intriguing. Similarly, the rear end looks futuristic as well and you can see roof end up as the rear spoiler that finally merges with LED tail-lamps. All in all, the BMW i8 is a classic case of form following the function in a perfect manner.
Step inside the cabin and you will find a similar design approach here as on the outside. From the ‘layering’ design theme on the dashboard to the lower centre console and the door-sills, everything is designed in accordance with the car’s exteriors. The steering wheel comes with multi-media controls and cruise control while the instrument cluster is all digital and can be programmed to show various driving parameters as and when required. Standard equipment in the car includes the next generation of BMW iDrive (the on-board Driver Information System) with touch controller and handwriting recognition, BMW Navigation Professional with 8.8-inch colour display, 3D maps, full-colour BMW Head-Up Display, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and a Harman Kardon Surround Sound system. Rear and front parking camera come fitted as standard as well.
As good as it may look, the main highlight of the i8 is its powertrain. The i8’s powertrain is a combination of a 1,499cc 3-cylinder petrol engine and a powerful lithium-ion battery powered electric motor. While the petrol engine is rated at 231PS/320Nm, the electric motor develops 131PS of power and 250Nm of torque. Couple both of them together and the total system output comes out at 362PS of power and 570Nm of peak-torque.
So how does it work? It’s an intriguing yet simple mechanism here. The electric motor is placed over the front axle and sends power via means of a 2-speed automatic gearbox. The more powerful petrol engine sits ahead of the rear-axle and power reserves from the engine are transferred via means of a 6-speed steptronic transmission. The combined result in effect makes the i8 a 4WD car.
Running in electric mode alone, the i8 can reach up to a speed of 120km/h with a maximum range of 35 kilometers. In conjunction with the petrol motor, the hybrid system can make the car complete the 0-100km/h run in just 4.4 seconds and go on up to a top-speed of up to 250km/h. Depending on your driving style, you can eek out as much 600 kilometers of range in this mode. BMW claims the i8 to have a record low fuel consumption of 47.45 km/l along with an impressive carbon footprint of just 50.36 g/km. The batteries on the i8 are charged on the go when running in sync with the petrol motor. Otherwise, it can also be fully charged in just 2.5 hours from a 220V mains supply.
BMW i8 comes fitted with an aluminium chassis that features a double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle to provide the best combination for both sportscar dynamics and a luxurious ride. The engine and battery pack have been placed as low as possible to improve the centre-of-gravity of the car.
Safety systems are in abundance as well and the i8 comes equipped with dynamic stability control, ABS, corner braking stability, dynamic braking stability and 8 airbags.
BMW believes that India is still in a nascent stage for cars like the i8, but still it sees a huge potential for the car in the Indian market. Currently, the BMW i brand has only two cars- the i8 and the i3 hatchback. The latter may also get added in the brand’s portfolio here, although, that will hugely depend on the market response to the i8.
Frist published on gaadi.com