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Why the BMW i8 Could Change Hybrids Forever

BMW’s i8 lacks the headline power and acceleration figures of the hybrid supercars from Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche, but it could actually be the most influential car of the group. Here’s why…

While everyone seems to be focused on those mega horsepower hybrid supercars, or hyper cars, from McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche, I think BMW’s i8 deserves a bit more attention because it is a far more important vehicle. Y’see, not only are those 900hp hybrid loonies completely out of reach in terms of price, but the focus of enthusiasts like myself seems to be set firmly on how much better those cars could be if they didn’t have to lug around big, heavy lumps of hybrid technology. 

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Mainly this is because the internal combustion engines fitted to these extreme machines produce such stratospheric power figures alone that the comparatively pathetic amount of power contributed by the electric motor(s) seems a bit pointless and stupid considering the amount of weight they add.

Imagine for a moment an 1100kg Ferrari road car with a screaming 790hp V12 engine – it’d be biblical, right? Without 200kg of hybrid gubbins sitting in the chassis that is exactly what the The Ferrari could have been and it’s a similar story with the McLaren P1 and the porky Porsche 918. 

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The BMW i8, however, doesn’t suffer from the same issues in my eyes because its internal combustion engine is nothing especially exciting. Its little three-cylinder engine produces 231hp and 236lb ft of torque. They are impressive figures for what is, essentially, an engine similar in size to my right shoe, but it’s still only slightly more power than you get in a 320d saloon. When you add in the electric motor, though, you’ve got 362hp and a massive slab of torque.

Without the batteries and the electric motor the i8 would weigh a little bit more than the Toyota GT86. And with only thirty odd extra horsepowers to move it about it wouldn’t be particularly quick in a straight line. It certainly wouldn’t do 0-60mph in less than 4.5 seconds like it does with the electric motor present, partly that comes down to the extra traction, and part of it is obviously the extra power.

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So, the hybrid gubbins add efficiency, speed, and grip to the i8 and as such I just don’t think the it would be a better car without all the boffiny hybrid bits like I do the McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche. Instead I feel like the i8 could very well be the first car to use a hybrid system that actually adds something to the driving experience. And by ‘something’ I don’t mean efficiency, I mean fun. If I’m right, the i8 will surely become an icon. 

By Aiden Taylor (@AidenT_RD)

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