Someone once asked me what the point of a concept car is.
They said they never looked like the car that ended up on the road, that the final version would never be as fast or economical or as awesome as the company first promised it would be.
I stumbled for an answer then, but I have one now.
Because the BMW I8 is a concept car.
A concept car you can buy.
In 2009 BMW released the concept vision efficient dynamics at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
It was a diesel plug in hybrid and it looked like it had been designed in the year 2020.
In 2011 they brought out the I8 concept.
Now this time it was a petrol plug in hybrid, and once again it was at the Frankfurt Motor Show, because that's the show the Germans go to.
To show off.
In a mildly changed I8 Spider concept appeared.
And in 2013 BMW released details of the IH prototype
Now it's 2014 and the future as envisioned in 2009 is here and it is breathtaking.
Now I've always admired Eco-Cars Getting as far as you can on a little fuel or, energy or what have you.
But, why do they all have to look so boring?
A Nissan Leaf just looks like a spade.
A prius is a stylized slab of yawn.
The futuristic Chevy Volt, well, it's looking a bit dated now, isn't it?
But the I8.
It's remarkably close to its concept.
Here the front is not quite as aggressive and the doors aren't see through.
But still, this is a mix of innovative design and masterwork inherent dynamics is such that there are vents and channels all over the place.
Designed to help it slice through the air as cleanly as possible.
And they don't detract from it, they.
Just make it look more awesome and it's got doors that open up rather than out.
How cool is that?
Looks only get you so far, you can be the most handsome son of a **** in the world but if you can't say do basic math you're kind of knackered.
BMW knows this so maybe I8's smart, after all the BMW I cars are the eco-conscious ones.
Because this one looks like a super car it has to go like one, which it does.
Naught to 62 takes just 4.4 seconds.
That's quicker than some 991 series 911s.
It tops out at a limited 155 miles per hour.
Now that's thanks to 3 power plants.
In the middle, there's a. Three Cylinder turbo charge [UNKNOWN].
Massive turbo on it means it's got 227 horsepower.
Driving the front there's an electric engine with 129 horse power and 184 pound foot.
There's also a little electric unit that acts as a starter motor, but also plugs in any [UNKNOWN] gaps there might be to give the.
A little bit of extra shuff.
In all there's 357 horsepower and 420 pounds per foot, however it's not just lots of power and lots of go that gives the IA it's shuff.
That'll be its weight.
It'll make a set of scales read 1490 kilos, some 70 less than a manual V8 Audi R8.
BMW's managed to get it so light thanks to extensive use of carbon composites.
It's passenger cell is a single slab of this stuff.
As much as BMW would like to make the whole car from carbon, sadly the exploding battery bit need a bit more protection.
So there's an aluminium under tray to hold all of that.
The car's exterior panels are made from thermo plastic, aside from the roof, that is.
There's carbon fiber in there, so strength.
As well as all of that, the instrument panel is housed in a magnesium frame.
And the bits of glass that stop too much engine bay noise getting into the cabin is an acoustic buffer panel sandwiched between two pieces of tempered glass.
Which isn't heavy as your regularly compressed sound.
So it is light, powerful and looks like a car designed by Tony Stark.
I like these attributes.
This could be the most important sports car this decade.
It is theoretically a mix of eco and sports in [x].
But it has to drive well to be any good.
The i8 is one of those cars that when you get in it you realize it's a game changer.
You realize this is something pretty special.
You step through its door, which opens up, as mentioned earlier and is awesome.
And you see a, a little bit of the carbon fiber construction.
You step over the [UNKNOWN], into the seat.
And what you see isn't super, mega futuristic.
You see a sports car-esque take on a BMW interior.
Nothing in here is alien.
And unlike the i3, its city car siblings, there's not recycled materials.
Other kind of hippy-ish things, which is no bad thing.
I quite enjoyed it in the I3, but you don;t get that in here.
It's a proper luxury car.
However, this luxury car has a little trick to it, cuz when you press the start button, there is no noise.
The car is activated and you just glide away.
Any [UNKNOWN] and comfort, the i8 won't use its [UNKNOWN] engine unless it really has to.
Unless petrol intervention is required, this is gonna be as eco as possible.
Electric all the way.
Right on, et cetera.
But in sport mode, when it uses all the [UNKNOWN], it goes.
Nice, quiet, refined car.
Just knock it over, and then the petulator wakes up and goes right, time for fun, and it sounds wicked.
And it goes full!
In sport mode, it clings on to the gears as long as possible.
It gives you as much time to experience it, all the torque, all the way through the rev rate.
There's a super new gear box as well.
If you decide to change gear on your own.
The change over, well you can't really detect it.
And when you change up in sport mode, the engine lets out a little whistle noise.
The street port makes a wicked little noise as well.
It sounds like a proper royalty sports car.
And when you consider the view you get from your window with the massive great hoof down the side of the car taken out, it feels special and it just flies.
How does it compare to the likes of say the 911 or an R8.
It's a sports car with a little bit missing.
However, what you don't get in the 911.
Hour rate that you do get in here.
It, you get that instant electric torque, that instant electric go.
Now then, now and again, you get that bit more noise, a bit more viscera.
However, this is 99% of them.
The current proper/h hypercars, the Laferrari, the P1, the 918 Spyder.
They all have a very similar setup to this, but they cost around a million quid each.
That's because their job is to be super fast mega cars.
This is the everyday, useable hybrid.
It's got the power you need, it's got the power you want, it can provide you with all of the thrills you could possibly want.
But at the same time, it's geared to do 135 MPG, admittedly, I haven't found that at all.
I think that the best I've mastered so far is just over 40.
However, I haven't been treating it.
As an everyday user would.
The commitment to lightweight is, staggering.
The Chief Designer wanted to add 10 mm to the nose of the car.
He wanted to make it just, a little bit, a little bit nicer.
Make it look just so.
He put in the idea and then was summoned to the Chief Engineer's office.
To justify his request and 200 grams to the weight of this car.
Thankfully he won.
But still, every decision, every change had to be justified.
To make sure this thing didn't weigh any more than it absolutely had to.
This is BMW's first production stab, at a hybrid sports car.
And it's 99% as brilliant, as any other sports car on the market.
It's super efficient, it's super quick and it feels great.
It just feels incredibly, incredibly [UNKNOWN] It's a proper sports car.
This is a car that requires very little fuel, is faster than 911 and is comfy, and is bloody good to drive.
As achievements go, this is up there.
It's cars like this, and this one especially, and the i3, they're the trailblazers.
People are gonna have to start copying these guys, because in ten years time making a car like a Porsche 911.
Isn't going to be viable.
There's going to be a missions race.
There's going to be things to stop cars working in the way that they do now.
Where was tuning a tiny engine with a really torque electric motor and turbotec and lightweight and aerodynamics, and all of that.
And extensive use of carbon fiber.
It's going to be the only way to do it.
This is the first step, this is the genesis really of the proper production hybrid sports car.
There are a couple downsides to it, the interior, yeah standard BMW.
[INAUDIBLE] It could feel a little bit more special, just a little bit.
And also the steering isn't, great.
That it isn't super sports car sharp.
You know what the wheels are doing, which is a good thing.
But even in sport mode it doesn't feel as heavy as you'd hope it to.
It, and you don't get as much feedback as you'd like.
But at the same time, pop it into a corner, give it a little bit of a tickle.
It won't bite you, it'll [UNKNOWN] you.
And it makes lots of lovely noises.
The electric motor makes lots of nice little whistles.
It whistles you up the road.
It feels like a car from a cartoon in the 60s.
You know, one's that were set in the future, like the Jetsons.
It makes all those whizzes, and makes lots of lovely little noises.
The IA has the lowest center of gravity of any BMW, which is good, because, as we all know, a lot center of gravity means a nice, low, sporty drive.
That is, in part, thanks to the giant bank of batteries that are, down there, somewhere, keeping the electric motors going.
What it does mean though, is that well, this thing looks low, it is very, very small.
It's only a little bit taller than a Porsche Cayman.
The thing is, it doesn't cling to the road.
It's not quite as wide as you think it is, but it's still wide enough to give it a lovely footprint.
This is the no compromise car, when you want.
Want a noisy sports car, you can have one handy.
[UNKNOWN] is like one, the torque just pushes you back in your seat.
It handles like one too, it feels like a sports car, but when you decide now you're done with that, just knock it out of sport, and it becomes a quiet, comfortable car.
No annoying engine noises, no whirring.
Just you, your thoughts, and your car.
In a nice, quiet, comfortable package.
Rather looks like a concept car.
It's a truly bizarre feeling to be driving.
BMW has proven that this technology.
If it actually works in a package that's not only desirable, but also bloody good fun.
These are the building blocks of something far, far greater, and it feels bloody brilliant.
Whatever the IH is like on the road, it, like the I3 city car, is immeasurably important.
Not only is this i8 1.0, but it's also the first eco sports car from a big brand; not a start up, not a company dedicated to ev's and the like, but from a company that's been making cars longer than you've been alive.
And when guys like BMW start taking notice of stuff like that you know you have to pay attention.
The world is changing and cars are changing with it.
What the I8 is, is the beginning.
If this thing is this good now, imagine what the next one's gonna be like or even the one after that.
We've finally reached the stage where concept is becoming reality.
Listen to the heart of Aston Martin's upcoming hypercar
The Audi E-Tron shows us the future, underwhelms on the road
The 992 generation of Porsche 911 is here -- and it looks great
Is the new Audi A8 the ultimate night-driving car?
Fiat names its fastest cars Abarth, meet the man behind that...
The new Range Rover Evoque has some awesome new toys and the...
Driving the 2019 Formula E car
Aston Martin gives us one last blast of analogue excellence with...
How Morgan made the mighty V8 very British indeed
From Polo to T-Roc: The weird and wonderful world of Volkswagen...