BMW doubled down on its philosophy of “Efficient Dynamics” and produced an electric sports car for today’s more progressive driving enthusiast: the 2014 BMW i8. Its carbon fiber and aluminum shell is home to a mid-mounted turbocharged gasoline engine and an electric drive system that delivers 357 horsepower and an all-electric range of up to 22 miles. As our favorite Maryland-based BMW dealer, BMW of Belair, states, “This is one fantastic car.”
The BMW i8 both looks and drives like nothing else on the road today. Select the E-drive setting and the i8 can cruise on electricity alone for up to 22 miles at a maximum speed of 75 mph. Complementing this engineless mode of travel are a number of noise-quieting measures aimed at keeping road-noise levels to a minimum. The result is an eerily-quiet cabin that provides disruption-free listening.
The i8 pairs an internal combustion engine that drives its rear wheels with an electric motor/generation unit energized by a lithium-ion battery that powers the front wheels. The gas powerplant is a turbocharged, 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine that produces 228 horsepower. Combined with the high-voltage battery pack, the i8 packs a net power output of 357 horsepower.
While a 0-60 time of 4.2-seconds is quite respectable, the i8’s unrelenting power delivery is what truly separates it from conventional sports cars. In terms of handling, the chassis and suspension work together well to serve up the type of balance and composure for which BMW is renowned. The electric-assisted steering is responsive and effortless. Recharging the battery requires 3.5 hours on a standard 110V household outlet and 1.5 hours with a 220V charging station.
On the electronics front, the i8 includes BMW’s iConnectedDrive service that utilizes topography and traffic information to choose the most efficient navigation route and a smartphone app that lets you lock and unlock doors, monitor battery charging, and activate the air conditioning from virtually anywhere.