Saturday 18 November 2017

#MyCar2015 - Electrifying: We take the BMW i8 for a testdrive

Awesome: Ian Mallon drives BMW's i8 supercar with 0-100kph in 4.4 secs and returning 134mpg

BMW i8
BMW i8
Inside the BMW i8
Renault Zoe
Audi e-tron
VW Golf E
Nissan Leaf

IS THIS back to the future, or is this the shape of things to come?

Never before has a car that you plug in looked so sensational than right here and right now.

This is electric motoring the way it should be, not some hideous concept rolled out for show and then put back in a display case for mechanical engineers to mull over through a severe bout of beard scratching.

The concept of electric motoring has always been controlled by contributing factors including the motor industry itself and by oil industry interests.

The combination of such factors has led to a lethargy in development and production of cars which are not totally dependent on fossil fuel.

That in this day and age we are even getting so excited by electric cars is another day's debate, but for now we should just be grateful that the BMW i8 is how things have worked out.

The car is a modern day DeLorean, and I am a 21st Century Doc Brown as I stand dribbling and drooling over such a magnificent specimen.

The whole thing has a Back to the Future feel about it, thanks not only to the sheer motoring modernity, but to a pair of gull wings that will alert even the dullest of senses.

The thing about "open-up" doors is that they look stunning when they're up, but once they're up you're a lead actor to an immediate audience of car-gazers.

An amusing aside is that before you take delivery of the i8, BMW writes you a letter asking you not to go into multi-storey car parks.

Getting into a car with gull-wing doors involves perching on the side of the car, or where the foot-step would be in a normal car, and then literally falling in.

But wow - once inside, the world is best viewed through the digital BMW blue, or Prototonic as they like to call it.

I am now Marty McFly, a Michael J Fox of motoring, minus the awkward height issue, as I survey the world through a global time-traveller and all behind the wheel of the greatest car I've ever tested.

Apart from all that hybrid innovation and style, i8 is sheer motoring Nirvana wrapped up in price tag of under €150,000.

The drive itself is so sleek and so fast that this hardly equates to electric motoring, does it?

After all, electric motoring used to involve hideous hybrids wrapped up in ridiculous price tags - Mitsubishi iMiEV, anyone?

Well, this is electric motoring at its purest, but the real genius comes in the shape of a mere 1.5 litre, three-cylinder engine which hocks out an incredible 362bhp. All this energy-saving madcappery adds up to some of the most audacious power in the history of mechanical engineering.

For example, the turbo-charged power train smashes out some of the most searing acceleration ever for its size - 0-100kph in just 4.4 seconds. What's even more remarkable is that all this power and speed come as part of a very definite statement on efficiency and greenery, all through BMW's EfficientDynamics philosophy - this means only 49g/km and 135mpg.

Back to the outside for a minute, though, and with all this craziness going on underneath the bonnet it's easy to get sidetracked as to just how beautiful this car is.

There's a mix of blues and greys on the skin, giving an extra-sporty dimension. There's a quite stunning indent in the bonnet that looks like a metal valley.

Back inside again, and there's a glorious simplicity about the dash - it's all there, it's just that it doesn't look mind-boggling.

All in, the BMW i8 will cost you €143,822 after recieving an SEAI grant for €5,000 and VAT relief of a further €2,500.

Best of the rest ... Other EVs that may give you a buzz

* The Nissan Leaf is probably  the most recognisable electric car on  Irish roads today. Launched two and a half years ago the 5-door hatchback  boasts zero emissions and a range of around 150km on a full charge. Prices start at €21,490 including grants.

* It was only a mater of time before the VW group came up with a plug-in version of their record-selling Golf. Boasting a range of 190km, with lights, heating and wipers on it's probably more like 150, but can be quick charged in 35 mins to 80pc capacity. The e-Golf 5-door starts at €32,660, again inclusive of grants.

* Heralded as the cheapest car in its class, the Renault Zoe is indeed a very impressive family-sized EV. It has a realistic range of about 120kms and a fast charge time of 30mins. Prices start at €17,490 but the sting in the tale is the battery rental of €49 a month capped at 5,000kms a year.

* Although not strictly all-electric, the Audi e-tron is a real game-changer in hybrid motoring. The twin motors generate a hot hatch-like 204bhp and have a combined range of over 900kms (50km in full EV mode) and is an absolute dream to drive. Prices start at €39,950 with grants.

Irish Independent

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