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TWIKE-less comforting by an i8…a semi-green option

Another unexpected friendly gesture (besides many others) after my total-loss accident with TW560 came from my neighbor.

A car buff (he owns a beetle and an original Jaguar E-Type and drives a luxury version of a Range Rover for his daily commute) he has always been interested in the EV’s and prototypes I’ve been driving during the last 11 years. He even tried a Tesla for a few days … but wasn’t convinced it would be a ‘proper’ car for him.

One Friday evening, I spied an i8 in his driveway just across my house and thought: It really looks good in black. I just wish it were a BEV! That would be perfect.

I wandered over and saw that it was already plugged in. Checking the charger I immediately thought that the 220V Level 1-brick was rather small – and was right. BMW gave this car a whopping 6A!! charger for its 7.1kWh battery – talk about saving money at the wrong place!

Charging the i8 @ 6A

Charging the i8 @ 6A


 
As my neighbor wasn’t there, I could only guess that the car was there for the weekend for him to test.

The next day we met outside and he told me that it was heartbreaking to see me without my TWIKE and he wanted to alleviate my pains by offering me to drive the i8 that day – WOW.

He added that with this car I would get at least the same levels of attention I’d already gotten used to with my TWIKE. (Which is something I’ve gotten so used to that it doesn’t register anymore – anywhere I go with my TWIKE, people just walk up to me and start a conversation…and I still like to answer all the usual questions)

I get (insert myself, crawl) into the i8 and get ready for a spot of (semi-) electric fun…to be honest: anyone who buys an i8 for its electric range somehow doesn’t get the point of the car anyway. Plus: anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I love driving fast cars from time to time … electric or not.

I'm thinking - how cool would an i8 be as a BEV?

I’m thinking – how cool would an i8 be as a BEV?


 
Off we go! But not before taking a really interesting picture of the rear-view monitor 🙂

It’s Caroline’s TW600 that had been brought up to me that day and borrowed to me for 4 weeks – more on the camaraderie and compassion of the TWIKE community in a later entry.

Oh, what's this in the rear view camera?

Oh, what’s this in the rear view camera?


 

I spent the afternoon driving to Zürich and around the lake, first in electric mode only – just to see how far I could go – and then in Sport-Mode…well…to have some fun. 😉

You get 32km if you drive normally
 
In fully electric mode, I was able to drive about 56km before the ICE cut in. Given the 7.1kWh battery and a reported 6.1kWh/100km something was quite off. (but as always, multiple layers of electronic nannying kept me from understanding why the numbers were contradicting themselves.)

I drove very, very carefully

I drove very, very carefully


 

I’ve driven an i8 a few times since it was launched and maintain that there are a few things BMW did right with this car and many things are just very wrong:

Things BMW did right:

  • Gorgeous design
  • Recognizing that an electric drive train makes sense
  • Gull-wing doors 🙂
  • Brilliant handling, considering the thin tyres used
  • Very comfortable for long-distance travel
  • Makes middle-aged guys like me feel younger
  • Has the same positive/smile inducing effect on people like the TWIKE

Things that are awful:

  • When in sport mode, no proper sync between front and back propulsion systems and super-noticeable traction issues until the ICE cuts in
  • Tiny battery – even as a PHEV
  • Lousy charging options
  • Minuscule fuel tank
  • Horrible engine sound generator (who gave the green light for that?)
  • Fuel efficiency in combined mode
  • Near-to non-existent regen
  • *NOT A PURE BEV*

It feels like all good EV engineering went into the i3 (which I like a lot) and the i8 was first designed and then engineers tried to figure out how to fit the parts later on and had to compromise a lot.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day with the i8 – zipping around corners, swooshing quietly through villages, drawing a small crowd at a charging station in Zürich and all the friendly smiles and thumbs up that I’m used from when I drive my TWIKE.

That said, I’m really looking forward to the moment when TW560 is back. Right now, it’s not much more than a pile of junk around a 18,000 CHF battery pack…I truly miss my TWIKE!