BMW i8 – Part 2, Johannesburg Test Drives

BMW i8 Part 2 (part 3 coming June 2016)

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Amazing light at night

We have waited nearly 3 years to drive this car! From the time when BMW announced the plan to build an electric car, and we started to see some pictures of what this Vision would look like, I would never have imagined that seeing the Vision at a show, then an actual i8 in the flesh – the two are nearly the same. It is very rare for any car manufacturer for any manufacturer to deliver a car as bodacious as the BMW i8. After many years of waiting, and lots and lots of nagging – we finally have driven the i8, this is our part 2 to the previous blog we posted. The short report is that this car is phenomenal.

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BMW i8 at night – rear
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BMW i8 Interior highlights

First off, this would not have been possible if it were not for Nicci Barry and Shaiba Ebrahim from Northcliff Auto BMW. Northcliff Auto BMW has been instrumental in ensuring that you can be updated on the latest BMW cars on offer, thanks to their incredible relationship with our blog and my office. So huge thank you to the DP, Gen Manager Anton and Regional team from Unitrans for this incredible dealership relationship!

Now – onto the car!

Design (The future!)

The design of this car is from another planet! You have never seen as many lines or shapes on a BMW design ever. The exterior and interior design team from BMW i have even won an award on the BMW i3, focussing more on the idea of the design, with solid principles of efficiency and optimised materials that give emotion. The fundamental principles of car design here, take design far beyond anything in a car this accessible to the common man. I say that with caution, from R 1 .8 Million +/- for this car, makes it no 3 series – family car. It is cheaper though, than a Ferrari, Bentley, Lambo and some Mc Claren`s. Although, the price has very little do with what this car is about. The design is sharp edged. This is the Mach 3 version of Gillette – that leads you think that the design itself cuts air, while the steering precision and suspension, manage to keep you on the road, at any speed.

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I8 sticks out at the Mall

Drive (Speed of the future, efficiency today)

This is the BEST BMW I have ever driven (thus far). There are for sure, many more opportunities to test cars as we grow our little 1880 Facebook likes, and 14 000 South African visitors on our site. The feeling you get from this machine, is very difficult to describe. At first jumping into the cockpit, the low seating position, and sliding into the machine over the Carbon Fibre tub – makes you think that this is as close to F1, you are ever going to get on a normal Johannesburg road like the M1. On the test day, we did a route up to Midrand and back to Rosebank  and it is solid, planted and secure at any speed. The idea of using electric power, and a small 1.5 l 3 cylinder engine is unheard of. The noise this car makes is really something from the acoustic design team of transformers movie franchise. At low speed on E-Drive, you can hear the electric motor – soft high pitch whine. In comfort mode, the petrol engine kicks in – and constantly ensures the two work together in the most efficient way possible. In sport mode, the i8 takes it`s gloves off, and gives you a sharp one –two jab in the FACE!  It is unbelievably quick. Driving some of the interns at our office, made a few of them slightly ill. So if you are wondering. Will this drop a Porsche or your uncle`s V8 540 i BMW E39 – for sure! It is light – the steering is very precise, not overly heavy and is quick enough to avoid taxis and the like on a b-road, and the brakes are sharp enough to stop just before the white line, when you need. She is the very sexy girl/guy at your Matric Dance,  that everyone wants to date. So hot – you dare not look, or even speak. It is slightly intimidating, even jumping into the car, many stares around. Once in, your brain goes straight to BATMAN, parking the i8 in his cave at night!

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Blue light – yes it`s that amazing!

This i8 will melt your rational brain, and in sport mode – really assist in losing all prefrontal lobe regular function:

“The most typical psychological term for functions carried out by the prefrontal cortex area is executive function. Executive function relates to abilities to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, same and different, future consequences of current activities, working toward a defined goal, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social “control” (the ability to suppress urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable outcomes).”

I am pretty sure there are studies out there, that show how we men, in a car, become more ape like when in our cars, going fast! This could explain why so many accidents happen with men more than women, but that is for another blog. Hormones can run you brain my friend.

Handling

The car is no more difficult to drive than a VW Polo. It is very quick! It can change direction much faster than a Polo, but put this in Comfort mode on a long journey and the only reminder you will have that you are driving a supercar, are all the stares from the pretty aunty in the White Prado next to you.

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Side view at night – BMW i8

I don’t know how the BMW engineers have managed to make something this low and beautiful and phenomenally quick, ride so soft. I expected with the Carbon Tub, sitting on a few batteries – that the suspension would be a lot harder than a regular BMW. It wasn’t. I actually think it is more comfortable than my 320 D F30. Where some very quick BMW cars, can be tad bit firm, to keep the car from rolling into trees down William Nicol (just past the VW on the right), this car wont roll. The batteries between the wheels are low down – in the middle of the carbon fibre tub. The balance is 50:50 between the rear and front wheels. Picture an Olympic ice-skater, using swiss army knife steel as blades instead of normal skater shoes. This is the precision and beauty of handling, that is the BMW i8.  No fuss. It just gets on with the job.

I dare say that Jeremy Clarkson (Greenpeace be upon him, and the new producers working on him) said the BMW i8 was, “breathtaking”. He used that word because it is. The only time I felt the same as this, was driving the BMW M5 E60 as a BMW salesperson training at Gerotek – around and around the banked high speed test track. It is really quick, really easy to take off – and even easier to stop because of its weight (TARE 1450 KG).

Further testing – range, parking, living with the car – taking your neighbours kids for a drive etc

We will come back to you in about a month – to update you on the overall day-to-day living in experience that is the BMW i8. It`s very easy to watch a few reviews on Top Gear, Youtube video blogger`s and read a few articles to make up your mind. It`s always much better to have someone else test it for you, over time and come back with a full report. Stay tuned.

For any questions chat to Shaiba, Nicci or Jacques from Northcliff Auto BMW on 011 772 9800 – mention SA Buyers Guide when you call! 

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Interior is light, comfortable and fully functional. Not quite mercedes heavy luxury. Just what you need to get to your next meeting, very very quickly.

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