Electric and hybrid cars, it’s hard to keep avoiding the subject, so this week we are looking at two luxury electric and hybrid cars, the gorgeous BMW i8 and the insanely fast Tesla Model S P90D
Firstly the BMW, a 1.5 litre supercar, crazy right? Well it certainly looks crazy from the outside and once sat inside you feel like you are in a Hollywood film transported into the future. But, getting into the car is a challenge, the carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) tub is similar to a race car in that you have to kind of fall into the seats. Not ideal if you are dressed for night out!
The technology isn’t ground-breaking, a tuned 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine sits behind the driver, and is linked to an electric motor at the front. The two combined total 357bhp and 570Nm of torque. Those figures allow the i8 to dash to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds and go on to a top speed of 155mph. That’s the kind of performance to keep Porsche 911 and Audi R8 drivers looking in their windows.
Priced from $140,700 the BMW starts to make sense especially with its 134mpg fuel efficiency rating, in the real word you will do well to get half their quoted figure but it is still better than a traditional supercar and if your commute is short you might never leave EV mode.
Out on the road the drive is firm but it’s certainly a ride you could live with, handling is good but efficient narrow tires make the car feel a little like it wants to understeer. As you would expect the combination of a MINI engine and an electric motor don’t make for a great noise so an artificial noise is pumped into the cabin, it sounds good and will fool passengers.
The car can be driven in full EV mode and with a full charge and a full tank you should see just over 300 miles. Standard household charging will take eight hours while a special BMW-supplied charger will give you an 80% charge in just two hours.
Tesla has enjoyed much more exposure and many more sales than BMW’s i8. The Model S P90D is their latest addition to the range, from the outside it looks like an unassuming saloon, inside you are treated to the lovely touchscreen that really dominates the cabin, it can be updated via Wi-Fi and will also control some advanced autonomous features.
The real magic is the brutal power, the Tesla Model S P90D will accelerate from 0-62 in an eye watering 2.8 seconds, top speed is 155mph but it’s irrelevant, this car is all about the traffic light Grand Prix and shaming many supercars in the process.
There is one drawback, 762bhp of pure electric power comes with a weight penalty, meaning the handling suffers, it’s by no means terrible, but you can’t throw the car around in the way you might want to.
Tesla’s free-to-use European Supercharging network continues to grow with over 1000 chargers across the continent. The Supercharges can deliver up to 50% charge in just 20 minutes. A full charge should give you 250 miles as long as you don’t drive it in Ludicrous mode all the time! The Tesla nips in under $100k even with the Ludicrous mode option ticked.
These two cars represent exciting times for the automotive industry. It is reassuring to see that manufactures are still considering the needs of drivers that want to enjoy driving in the future.
About the Author
Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 17 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, petrol is very much in his veins.