The BMW i8 is currently BMW’s most exciting model. It looks strikingly close to its concept, which is remarkable because most cool cars don’t do that. Usually, daring designs get scrapped before making it anywhere near production. Here are five things you should know about it.
1. There Is No Elegant Way of Climbing Into or Out of It
I wouldn’t call us humans the most graceful of creatures on this earth. Have you ever seen someone trip up a set of stairs? My point exactly. Which is why we need all the help we can get to look like we know what we’re doing. The i8 doesn’t help us there.
The butterfly doors, awesome in concept, are nearly impossible to live with in real life. I started to get the hang of climbing in and out of the car by the end of the week I spent with it, but it still wasn’t simple. Part of the problem is that the sills are so wide and the seats are so low. You kind of have to duck beneath the door and also slide across the sill and land in the seat simultaneously. I’m sure taller people would have a much harder time than me.
Let me tell you another curse of butterfly doors: When you open them, you are basically screaming for the attention of everyone around you. The i8 is a striking car with striking doors. You pull up, park, open that show-stopping door and then tumble out. Not remotely cool. Forget about it if you’re wearing a skirt or a dress.
2. Carbon-Fiber Monocoque
You thought carbon-fiber monocoques were reserved for the McLaren crowd? Hell no, because you can get one in the i8. That monocoque cuts down on quite a bit of weight, while at the same time adding rigidity and stiffness to the overall structure of the car. Monocoques are also designed to be very safe if the car gets into a crash.
But the downside is that it’s why the i8 is so expensive—both to buy and probably to repair if anything were to happen to that chassis.
3. The Trunk Is Minuscule
Unfortunately, because the car has both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, it doesn’t have a whole lot of storage room left over. The frunk doesn’t open and the trunk is tiny. Like, maybe a duffel bag would fit in there.
Guess it’s a good thing that you don’t have kids because those rear seats are going to come in real handy!
4. Hybrid Power
As far as BMW’s naming system goes, things that begin with the lowercase i mean that they have some kind of electrified capacity. So far, BMW only has two models in the i family, the i3 and the i8.
The i8's rear wheels are driven by a 1.5-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder and its front wheels are driven by an electric motor. Its default setting uses more battery than fuel, but you can also put it in an all-electric mode, where the car won’t use any fuel at all.
Alternatively, there’s a sport mode, which changes the driving characteristic to use more fuel instead of battery power. In sport mode, you can charge the battery most quickly, because the car isn’t using as much of it to drive.
5. It’s a Mid-Engine, 2+2 Coupe
How many cars out there are mid-engined coupes that also have two seats in the back? Very few. The i8 is one of them. The other is the Lotus Evora, though the i8's backseats are sliiiiiightly more functional. Have you seen the “back seats” of the Evora? You could get a watermelon back there and that’s about it.
I hardly think that i8 owners are actually using those seats to transport full-sized people, so the space is probably for storage. Still cool, though.