I usually prefer driving and then writing about the ‘everyday’ vehicles, because they’re the ones that are most important to the majority of readers. But last summer, I got a chance to experience a radical new future for sports cars.
I visited BMW’s test track in France and drove the i8, an innovative new plug-in hybrid that’s definitely not the usual commuter car most people picture when they think of these gasoline-electric powertrains.
The i8 is all about combining those two propulsions into something that’s much more than the sum of its parts. This thing will go from zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 250 km/h.
We weren’t allowed to take cameras into the test facility, and the cars were heavily masked inside and out so we couldn’t quite see the styling. But oh, we could drive them.
The featherweight i8’s made almost entirely from carbon fibre and aluminum, and while it’s as lithe as a dancer around turns, it’s an acceleration monster in a straight line.
I expect it’ll retail for between $150,000 and $200,000 in Canada when it goes into production, but since this was a hand-built test prototype, I’m guessing you could probably add a zero to what this one cost.
And here I was, just a lowly little ink-stained writer, smacking this thing around a high-speed course.
There are usually dozens of writers on these types of events, from all different publications, but I was one of only two Canadians invited to this one. That’s quite an honour, and it was certainly the standout for me this year.