Bmw i8 vs jag f

Thin slivers of neon glow in the BMW cabin, cool xanh lines that highlight the elegant forms and crisp edges of the cabin. They also serve lớn bathe the cockpit in a Tron-like glow. Very futuristic. But xanh is the colour of green cars now, và the BMW i8 is no ordinary, run-of-the-mill sports oto.

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This article originally appeared in issue 262 of Top Gear magazine

Pictures: John Wycherley



So here I am, feeling lượt thích Bruce Boxleitner, but instead of zapping around a digitised grid, I’m in Newcastle upon Tyne. I know what you’re thinking: this northern industrial thành phố is hardly the right setting for BMW’s carbon-chassis, electrically driven, hybrid-powered slice of the future. Think again: Newcastle was voted the UK’s greenest đô thị in 2009 & 2010, & claims to have more EV charging points per head of population than anywhere else in the UK. On the council’s trang web, I counted 32 within a few hundred metres of this spot.



That seems unlikely since I’m currently driving across a slab of industrial Newcastle - the gloriously overengineered, bucket-riveted Swing Bridge, 1876 vintage. To my left as I drive sầu over the Tyne is the Sydney Harbour-lượt thích arc of the Tyne Bridge; lớn my right the raised boxiness of the High Level Rail Bridge. Behind me is the city’s oldest building, and ahead the world’s oldest sports oto.


OK, that’s being unkind khổng lồ the Porsche 911, but it does approach things from a different philosophical basis khổng lồ the BMW. Here, it’s the gentle coaxing forces of evolution that have sầu nurtured its progression, sealing its credentials as the world’s foremost sports car. You’ll have sầu probably known the salient points your entire life: flat-six engine mounted aft of the rear wheels, boot in the nose, four seats in between.


Jaguar took inspiration from the past with the F-Type, but skimmed across the evolutionary steps & ended up with an achingly pretty coupe tested here in full-on R guise with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8. It does rather outgun the BMW, which can only boast a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo & a single electric motor. But right now that’s not the point.

Yes, the few heads that are out and about vị turn as the Jag’s African Plains roar echoes through these quiet streets, but in all honesty the Jag is as out of place here as on the Plains.


I fully appreciate that being seen và heard is, for some people, the essence of what city-centre driving is all about, but even with that taken inkhổng lồ trương mục the BMW makes its rivals feel like one-trick ponies. No matter how precise their throttle control, how good the steering locks or the visibility - and neither of them are bad in any regard and the Porsbít is genuinely exceptional in all of them - their inability khổng lồ fall silent and impersonate a nuclear sub is their undoing.


Inside the i8, I press the e-dive button. Sorry, e-drive sầu. More xanh glow, as the dash screen rearranges itself. The hum and buttock-tingle that was the three-cylinder is gone, & now there’s just a whisk and whirr of electricity. I am on board the Red October.

No other electric oto - not even the i3, Porsche 918 Spyder or Tesla Model S - feels as good as this around town. It’s stealthy, pure and accurate, and the ride is decent. I can’t even imagine how a drivetrain could be more silken.

The only thing - literally the only thing - I can pick fault with is the traction control, which cuts the power if you attempt a speedy getaway on a rough surface. Sounds odd, but in town I needed the stability system’s Sports setting more than anywhere else.


It’s a joyous car to lớn operate, và joyously simple, too. The trickiest thing about it is getting in và out. The cab forward, four-seat, mid-mounted engine packaging is reminiscent of a Lotus Evora, especially with its high box sill. Pull the bright blue seatbelt over, wonder if the anodised xanh strip around the wheel rim is a touch too far, press Start, pull gearlever baông chồng & you’re away.

The handbrake unshackles itself, và the oto defaults inkhổng lồ Combined mode (the engine cutting in where necessary). To fully sportify the i8 (& have sầu the IC motor running permanently), just tip the gearlever to the left - no fiddling with individual damper, exhaust, steering & throttle settings here. But that’s for tomorrow.


Tonight’s about the ease of whizz. Both Porsche and Jag have sầu self-shifting gearboxes: the F’s an 8spd tự động hóa, the 911’s a 7spd double-clutch, and neither is prickly in town. OK, you have sầu to be careful with the Jag’s sensitive sầu loud pedal, its long bonnet and surprisingly low nose, but it’s nimble enough and easy to place.


The Porsđậy is a paragon of usability. You sit low but upright, can turn on a sixpence & enjoy a panoramic glass area và compact kích cỡ - it’s the narrowest by over 100milimet.

The BMW shades the most ground but doesn’t feel any more cumbersome than the Jag &, like the Porsđậy, is a masterpiece of packaging that neither looks nor feels like a four-seater. However, as with the 911, the rear seats are better viewed as a particularly well-appointed load bay with built-in securing straps.


Far more interesting is the layout of the oily bits. The BMW 3cyl is mid-mounted behind the rear seats và drives the rear wheels. Because it’s small & heavily turbocharged, the oversized starter motor is pressed inlớn action khổng lồ boost power when the turbo is spooling up or during gearchanges.

Up front is the electric motor, feeding roughly 130bhp khổng lồ the front wheels, the batteries that fuel it stored in the central spine, within the cocoon of the LifeDrive carbon cell. It’s fascinating stuff và you want to see it, but the most you get are tantilising titbits of exposed carbon around the door frames and the masslessness of the door itself. The i8’s petrol engine is tucked beneath a locked lid, and only your dealer is able lớn open the front bonnet.

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What you are privy lớn are total outputs of 357bhp & 420lb ft - strong, but hardly outstanding alongside a Jaguar with 542bhp và 501lb ft. The fact the 1,490kg BMW weighs 160kilogam less than the porky Jag isn’t enough khổng lồ offset the power deficit - on paper, at least. But it’s day two now, & out here in the real world, or at least in this glorious corner of the North York Moors, something surprising is happening.


The BMW is fast. Head-snap fast. It’s all khổng lồ do with response & initial acceleration. We’re used to internal combustion engines that take a while to wake up, to lớn find their peak revs, to lớn get into lớn the zone. Even if they have superchargers.

Electriđô thị doesn’t work lượt thích that - it’s there, at its maximum, all the time. So when you seek lớn ‘make progress’ in the BMW, even if you’re in a daft gear, say fifth, coming off a roundabout because you got caught out by the dawdler in the Micra & forgot to pull paddles, you still zap off in a manner that catches both the Jag - and especially the Porsđậy - unawares. Keep it in the right gear, và you’ll spook them time and again.


The bigger question here is whether you have fun doing this, whether the instant e-hit is a bigger thrill than a flat-six soaring its way to lớn more distant power peaks. Tricky one. Electricity is still a new thrill to us - and BMW has done much lớn make it compelling. With the gearlever nudged across lớn Thể Thao, the BMW feels noticeably sharper (in chassis as well as engine), and makes a commendable aural impersonation of a naturally aspirated oto. But that’s the thing: it is an impersonation.


The tunes are artificially enhanced and pumped inkhổng lồ the cabin; the engine doesn’t have a climax worth waiting for, just a lead-weights-in-a-soông xã mid-range. It’s a neat triông xã, but no matter how many times I experienced it, it never became as rich, tangible and spine-tingling as the Porsche’s flat-six. Here is an engine that you have lớn work with, it requires you lớn think more, to get involved & play your part.


The Jag. Ah, the Jag. Cripes, it’s quiông chồng, but it’s only faster than the others at speeds I never ventured near. Ahem. Try as it might, the F-Type R can’t place all 501lb ft smoothly onto the tarmac at lower speeds. It squirms, the orange light flashes và your gut instinct is khổng lồ lift your right foot. End result: the Jag is no quicker.

But it’s still vastly entertaining, if somewhat akin khổng lồ an old TVR in its focus on vicious straight-line speed, noise & drama. Old-school, but there’s a slight lack of professionalism at its core - cross-country on rough, testing roads, its high centre of gravity & lack of rear-kết thúc grip mean it’s not a car you should choose if you have a weak heart.


The Porsbít is the stand-out car in Yorkshire. Quite how it manages to pack so much damping into lớn so little travel, and so much balance inkhổng lồ a frame that ostensibly has no weight over the front kết thúc, is automotive sầu alchemy. What sets it apart is its tốc độ of recovery. The Porsđậy solves problems faster than you bởi vì, takes the punishment, đơn hàng with it and is instantly ready for the next bit of pulverising road.

It’s so sweet to lớn drive, so precise và involving; it’s amazing how much you can lean on the front end, how much communication you get through the chassis và fabulous brakes. We criticised the electric power steering when the 991 first came out a couple of years baông xã. Not now.


Mostly this is the BMW’s fault. The i8 does not have sầu good natural steering feel, despite the fact it wears the narrowest tyres. Even in Sport mode, it’s too light, & if you do push on hard, there’s not enough warning of the forces building up - instead you’re suddenly aware the front tyres have sầu reached their limit và started khổng lồ understeer. This is where the Porsbít gives options, but the BMW is more one-dimensional - it doesn’t have the dynamic repertoire beyond a little throttle adjustability.

But that’s not to say it’s a shambles. In fact, I think it’s rather brilliant - just very different. The chassis is super-rigid and has a wonderfully low centre of gravity, allowing the suspension to be soft. So it rides well, flows pleasingly, propels you out of corners quickly & effortlessly, and through long ones holds a delightful line, seeming khổng lồ get onto lớn the edge of its tyres và stay there. But it’s not hardcore.


Two things before we look at the bigger picture: economy và long-range ability. Up on the moors, the BMW returned a verified 29.5mpg. I don’t know of a hot hatch that would have sầu done better. The 911 returned 18.2mpg, the F-Type 16.6.

What you’ll get depends on how much electriđô thị you use: starting with both fuel sources topped up và driving until empty, we got 37-42mpg & at least 300 miles per tank. The BMW was also far và away the nicest oto to lớn do distance in. It’s uncannily quiet, supremely smooth and effortless.


For those reasons and others, many people have sầu declared the i8 lớn not be as good a sports oto as the Porsđậy 911. And they’re right. It’s not as good at the traditional sports-car stuff as the 911.

Because it’s not a traditional sports oto. Instead, it’s a car that open-minded people will come to lớn from across the car-owning spectrum, & the genius of it is that the biggest compromise they’ll have sầu to make is that it’s a bit awkward lớn get in & out of.

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Would I have sầu it over the 911? Whew, tough one, but yes, I think I would - it feels as though BMW has redirected the whole sports-car class. The ball is baông xã in Porsche’s court.


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