If we accept that Steve Jobs really dreamed of “building” an iCar would it be just an integration of the iOS or iPhone-type attitude into any car? Seriously? Or would it be some ideal (speak that as iDeal) kind of a car that would tug (and I love how that sounds!) at the heart strings of enthusiasts while enjoying the warm embraces of the conservationists and environmentalists at the same time?
I’d subscribe to the latter. The former would only put something into the automobile, perhaps improve on a few, in the way of infotainment, connectivity, navigation, and Safety. Almightily. The latter, on the other hand would radicalize the entire automobile, taking everything out of it, so to speak, and present itself as the new normal. The iPhone. Communication Technology has been turned upon its head. Making a Versatile, Functional, and Practical (but complicated) device so seamless, so ubiquitous you cannot imagine how life operated without it. A Paradigm Shift. Could this be BMW goal with i8? We find out on Just Jigged.
What would Steve Jobs do? BMW has changed the way we think of supercars by marrying into the i8 Design the opposite spheres of driving Dynamism and Efficiency, making sure, of course, as must be for a supercar, that the final result is the most visual appealing sexiness to come out of Frankfurt and one with such voluptuousness you may actually be feeling it looking at the back side. Is this a good thing? Remember, you agreed an iCar would be more than just piping in tunes from iTunes (or Spotify) and having Siri take over in-car telephony and media management. Touch more than buttons.
Fact is, BMW wasn’t first in this direction (but neither was Apple!) – sports car at first glance: extremely low and wide upper pushed all the way back to the rear, forming a very flat silhouette with powerfully formed surfaces and precise but vamping lines (say that slowly – vamping lines) on all views, front, back, and sides; so that you want to think V12 (or W16, and be disappointed?) then a look inside (I mean at the mechanicals now) and you see that Efficiency and Sustainability have been taken seriously alongside. Jaguar had conceived what it called the C-X75 Concept to commemorate its 75th automobile manufacturing anniversary but left the beauty in concept world, which leaves the ultimate victory of an iCar debut to BMW. The new trend for all mass-produced carbon-fiber vehicles. Progenitor of the new supercar. That’d also be a Jobs’ goal.
Long wheelbase, shrunken overhangs, low ground clearance, you’re barely traveling on the tarmac, long hood with a V-shaped black belt poised at apex to the prominent twin kidney grill (defining BMW) and running around the body shell like the curves of Rubens, overlapping and interlocking with other surfaces and minimalist lines in a 3-D rhythm to the rear where all the sensuality terminates. So immediately your expectations of a sports car are fulfilled. Soft but agile – race ready! Did all that investment pay off? At 0.26 coefficient of drag from the wind tunnel, this wedge-shaped, conical, streamlined thing of beauty guarantees a super cutting through the wind. Even there’s still a harmony of lines when the scissors doors swing up and flare like a graceful butterfly to let you in. And.
In. Is where you want to be. Correct? Where the sporty looks of the body flows inside as one continuous harmonious whole, with generous use of carbon fiber, making the trims look light, feel light, but with clear form and excellent visual appeal, even from the colorful play of light and leather stitching. But, unlike other supercars, as Practicality guided the Design of the i8, it seats four (2 + 2) with reliable support and comfort, experienced upon test drives even when corners are entered with ferociousness. If you love driving you know the fun begins at the corners. The i8 hugs the ground it was born for! Still, as a driver’s car – note that – the steering, the dash, and driver’s seat are built around the driver; even the center console is angled toward the driver, the central on-dash display too, home TV-size large and readable, with all the controls accessible.
Is this passenger cell Safe? As Safe as the i8 is Aerodynamic and Lightweight? Really, this is the very obvious question that follows when a car goes on a diet both for Efficiency and to cheat physics without compromising luxury and Livability. Look, BMW chose to call the Safety cage, Life Module, and that should lay any crash fears to rest. The Life Module is laid out in CFRP. Plastic? Doesn’t sound like it can dissipate crash forces enough? Well, it can. It’s even safer than steel. But, the Life Module is also housed within the Drive Module, the all-aluminum chassis frame. So, the combustion engine (don’t despair just yet), electric motors, battery pack, power electronics, chassis components, and crash functions are arranged together in the aluminum Drive Module, while the living area passenger cell only makes up the Life Module of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. Therefore, while the i8 tips the scale at 1,490 kilograms (or 3,285 pounds), know that Lightness too is great for braking, it is torsionally rigid enough to suffer less deformation during crash, even at highway speeds. If yours is a size four family and you now have this, you and your loved ones can have some track fun housed within unbeatable protection.
That is, if the crash happened at all. Rare. No doubt Steve Jobs would Design the iCar to Handle, Drive, and Brake so Perfect that collisions would remain somewhere in Volvo’s Gothenburg museum. Look at the stable of Technology responsible for this: Dynamic Stability Control, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control, Brake Assist, and Dynamic Traction Control. Just in case the beautiful iScreen dash were anything near distracting. You see, standard on the i8 is 20-inch forged aluminum wheels with big (big) brakes. Expect at most 100-feet of stopping distance from 100-0 kph (62-0 mph). Impressive.
I guess now we’re sure of ourselves that the i8 can take a beating on the streets and on the highways without fear. Take it to the track too. Do we have the power? In an earlier post ahead of its launch I compared the i8 Performance with that of the McLaren MP4-12C Spider. The verdict? I heaved a sigh of relief that BMW made no “I am electric” apologies for the i8. It is just as Capable!
Sheer Driving Pleasure starts at the heart. Man or machine. Breathing air into the 1.5-liter three-cylinder combustion engine is BMW’s TwinPower Turbo driving the rear wheels at 170 kilo Watts (or 231 horsepower) and 236 pound-feet (320 Newton-meters) of torque, combined with the electric motor spinning the front axle at 96 kilo Watts (131 horsepower), getting its juice from a 7.2 kWh lithium-ion battery, and producing maximum torque of 250 Newton-meters (184 pound-feet) from standstill so that the i8 gets a power boost in the supercar league – with the eDrive intelligently coordinating both power sources. To think of what the eDrive is doing under the hood and panel, you know it is truly intelligent, just like the iOS, balancing the load from the two motors at the two axles through a two-stage six-speed automatic transmission system, which also runs some kind of manual mode for the Sport Mode of the i8 for a more engaging drive.
But because the i8 was designed with Efficiency in mind not all the time do you need both motors to run. So? Enter Comfort or ECO Pro modes and you may get pure electric drive at 60 kph up to 35 kilometers (or 22 miles). Nothing to compare with a Tesla Model S, even the latter without a single drop of gasoline anytime? No, nothing to compare. Really, I would recommend to BMW to spend more time at boosting the battery capacity and range to really earn that iCar position. There’s of course more to expect in a second iteration.
With everything so Perfectly designed on the i8 and yet with absolute cognizance of Efficiency – Design to the least detail – we cannot begin to highlight all in one installment of Now on Trac but the i8 happens to be the very Efficient epitome of the Sheer Driving Pleasure BMW moniker. Standards? Yes? Excellence? Absolutely? iCar? I don’t want to say yes all the way, and you know why? BMW didn’t beat the Tesla electric propulsion benchmark. When it does (I hope it will) the i8 (if other automakers do not run fast enough) could be the iCar.