The BMW i8: Elite Ride or Overpriced and Overhyped?

bmw i8Yesterday. at the the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles, Autoblog awarded the BMW i8 with the 2014 Technology of the Year Award. According to the outlet, the award was given to the i8 “not just for one technology, but for how a suite of technologies worked together to make one impressive vehicle.”

This recognition, of course, is just the latest in a whirlwind and critically acclaimed year for the German automaker. Across the industry, the i8 has been hailed as an instant classic and even regarded as a car that is capable of bringing about “social change around the world.”

It has been gaining such a large following and fan base because this exotic hybrid has somehow tied together the expectations of serious gear heads and the pining desires of tree huggers.

Powered by an electric, gas-powered dynamic duo (AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor, 129 hp, 184 lb-ft; a turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve 1.5-liter inline-3, 228 hp, 236 lb-ft), this ride can hit an impressive top speed of 160 mph, while blazing a 3.8 second 0-60 time. As far as efficiency goes, the ride still delivers, operating on a 22 mile electric range before turning over to the gas powered motor that still operates on a 32 mpg efficiency level.

bmw i8These numbers have helped the i8 pull out nothing but the best from reviewers, including…

  • A perfect 5 out of 5 rating from Car and Driver. Check out this excerpt from their official review; “BMW made sure that the i8’s chassis is suitably armed for combat. It reinforced the carbon-fiber center-body module with aluminum inserts and a substructure at each end to support the steering, suspension, and propulsion gear. The electric power steering is tight to the touch, quick on turn-in, and nicely weighted to sync the effort to rising cornering force.”
  • A near perfect review from Detroit News writer Henry Payne. He says, “The 2014 BMW i8 is worth the wait. Like the M1, it is a mesmerizing confection of style and technical capability. The i8 launches a new i-breed of Bimmers just as the M1 was the father of the M sports brand. But the i8 is a pioneer on a different frontier.”
  • A 2014 Design of the Year Award from Automobile Magazine… “For all of its unexpected characteristics, its startling yet elegant shape, its retention of the genetic elements that made BMWs “ultimate driving machines,” with optimism and enthusiasm, we declare the BMW i8 Automobile Magazine’s 2014 Design of the Year.”

But still, some may point out that this car’s performance is  actually worse in most regards than the all electric Tesla P85D. Well, that criticism can not be ignored because

1. Both cars aspire to snag the performance/clean energy crown

AND

2. The claim is absolutely true

This is where the conundrum about the i8 occurs. I mean, should we fall in love with the BMW model because IT IS actually a great car? Or should we resent it for giving drivers much less while charging them much, much more?? (At $136,000, the BMW i8 is $30,000 more expensive than the higher performing Tesla P85D!!!!)

bmw i8The answer lies in how much you appreciate a car’s styling. Because other than the styling, the BMW i8 doesn’t offer very much when compared to the Tesla P85D. In fact, because it is an underachieving hybrid (only grabbing 22 miles of electric range), I think that the difference between the two cars will only grow as the years go on. Think about it: in a couple of years when every car is implementing strong electric numbers, who is going to want to drive the i8? It just won’t make any sense.

But despite that, there is no denying that the i8 is an aesthetically pleasing ride, a ride that will turn heads out on the street, and for today anyway, a car worth bragging about. Just don’t talk 0-60 times with a Tesla owner.

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