What will the future bring? It is question that many people are asking and one that nobody really knows the answer. You want proof that nobody has successfully predicted the future? Where is my damn hoverboard?! Or better still, flying cars? One thing we can predict with some degree of certainty is that fossil fuels will run out, again nobody can tell you exactly when, but they are a finite resource. With strict emission standards coming into force and a diminishing combustible resource, our heroic supercars will likely be the first casualty. However, BMW claim that there is a future for performance cars and the BMW i8 shall lead the way.
Looking almost identical to its concept car, this spacecraft is indeed the finished article. It really is unlike anything that has come before it with a sleek profile detailed with intricate design. The iconic BMW kidney grills may well be more of a design element than something of function, but the lineage is there. Strong shoulder lines and a tapering bonnet are actually what you might expect of a modern-day M1. Every millimetre of this car has been extensively engineered and as good as the car looks, everything you see is functional.
Open the swan-like doors and a four seat cockpit is unveiled. A three pronged sports steering wheel sits at the drivers chest whilst the superbly ergonomic interior is sculpted around occupants. A high console divides the driver from the front passenger and in the back there is enough room for adults if the journey is to be short.
Sitting midship surrounded by carbon fibre is a 231BHP 1.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine which powers the rear wheels. A small generator motor is also coupled to this. In the front of the car is a larger electric motor and when all is said and done, the BMW i8 produces 356BHP and 420lb ft of torque. The car is silent in all electric mode, as you would expect, but put your foot down in regular driving and the petrol engine comes to life. Don’t go thinking that because that unit is from a Mini it sounds drab. Mash the throttle and the engine awakes emitting a sonorous noise. In sport mode when everything is devoted to maximum performance, acceleration is rapid as all of that torque sucks you back into your seat. 0-62MPH? Just 4.4 seconds and it will go onto an electronically limited top speed of 155MPH.
It is an impressive performance machine but arguably what is more impressive is that it will do a claimed 135MPG and emit only 49g/km. Whilst our time with the BMW i8 was brief, there is no denying that this car points to the future. Whether it is a watershed moment for the breed remains to be seen until after we spend some more time with it.