The Truth About Cars on the 2015 BMW i8

The few reviews that have crossed my desk have not been very revealing. This one deserves some scrutiny.

2015-BMW-i8-front-34-610x390
2015 BMW i8 reviewed by the Truth About Cars: TTAC.com

This is how Kamil Kaluski begins his article: This is the car that people in the 1970s predicted we would be driving in the year 2000. Fifteen years after the turn of the millennium, the BMW i8 is the machine that looks like no other BMW — and certainly like no other car on the road. Its gasoline and plug-in electric powertrain compliment its looks, bringing together the efficiency of an electric car and the convenience of an internal combustion engine.”

Having read this item I have a clear idea how this car works and how it feels to drive. I didn’t before. Further, the photos are quite easy to ‘read’. Press images I’ve seen have been really difficult to interpret due to excessive Photoshoppery. In particular, the interior is hard to make out as it is quite a complex design as this image demonstrates:

2015 BMW i8 interior: TTAC.com
2015 BMW i8 interior: TTAC.com

Now that I can see it clearly I still think it’s fussy and contrived. I’d love for it to be very, very simple, with one grace note. As it is it looks like tagliatelli. Never mind that, the i8 is a rarity among high-performance cars, for me at least, in that it’s genuinely a vehicle I’d want to see in the metal and plastic and GRP. I also enjoy the exterior styling which does provide a visual receipt for the tech underneath. Finally, it points towards the possibility of

An old-school Bristol. The photo is a bit intensely saturated but I still thought it worth showing: www.bristolcars.co.uk
An old-school Bristol. The photo is a bit intensely saturated but I still thought it worth showing: http://www.bristolcars.co.uk

hybrid cars and electric cars developing their own intrinsic interest. If this is what BMW can do, could there not be something very exciting possible from Bristol, for example, who are working on a vehicle with an alternative power train? The powerplant, interestingly, is being provided by BMW as this press release from June reveals. It is earnestly to be hoped that Bristol can find a way to give a meaningfully modern form to the Pinnacle. I don’t expect it to be as finely honed as the i8. But there is a lot of room to develop something that fits with the new power system and can move Bristol into the future.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

14 thoughts on “The Truth About Cars on the 2015 BMW i8”

  1. Do we even need a new Bristol? What “is” needed is for people to embrace the electric and PHEVs that are being introduced by the major manufacturers instead of reviving old names adding to the existing fleet which is already excessive.
    I prefer to remember Bristol like many others as they were not what they could be today.

  2. Don’t small makers offer a chance for variety additional to the mainstream? I don’t see a new PHEV Bristol as being out of keeping with old Bristol – not necessarily. They could mess up and forget the underlying Bristol philosophy. I hope that is retained rather than truck engines and ungainliness. I understand your concern. I feel it more with how Buick lost its Buickness in recent years. And its not because Buicky cars aren’t selling. The Avalon and Genesis find lots of happy customers that would once have chosen the Tri-Shield marque.

    1. Yes small makers have traditionally done this but today and tomorrows requirements are a lot different than yesterdays.
      We have had the infancy of the car over the last 100 plus years but its over!
      Personal transport design will increasingly be required to follow a single recipe and we are seeing it happening more each day. Safety has dictated we have not just seat belts but multiple air bags, ABS, automatic braking and lane departure etc. Speed zones on all roads with penalties if not adhered to, Parking overload, increasing cost and reluctance of the young to adopt personal motoring etc.
      Next self driving cars, no car zones in cities, no carbon fuel based engines, basically we are in an era that is unrecognisable from the last century and one that will require all personal transport to comply with regulations that never existed in the past.
      Look at how emission regulations have dictated the intro of a range of three cylinder engines in mid sized cars something unheard of a few years ago and the widespread roll out of hybrids.
      Small makers may find loop holes for a while but their overheads will always demand a premium from a select few buyers who will increasingly look like egotistical prats to the rest of the population, a bit like the super car owners living in central London today.

  3. I don’t see why we can’t have a new Bristol just because we’re facing (excuse the business-speak) a paradigm shift in personal transportation. I also don’t think that we all need to get in behind a select few megacorporations because of some notion that only Toyota or Bosch or BYD or Google can deliver us into our drive by wire travelpod future. People are going to be stuffing whatever the PHEV version is of a small-block Chevy V8 into their existing vehicles, the commodity travelpod platforms are going to end up with decidedly not-OEM bodywork applied by enterprising custom shops, and self-drive? Governments will press pause on omnipotent self-drive in the aftermath of the great M25 Hack, when hacktivists crashed the London ring road, causing thousands to be trapped in their immobilised vehicles with no internet or communications of any kind. In the end even if Richard’s Bristol GT runs an EU-mandated monitoring chip, off-the-shelf Denso safety systems and the Frazer-Nash Electradrive is actually a Tesla EV pack produced under license, it can still have a 3D-printed bodyshell rendered by hand in a configuration booth at the Kensington showroom.

  4. “when hacktivists crashed the London ring road, causing thousands to be trapped in their immobilised vehicles”
    Funny.. we have that on the M25 today without any inbuilt future tech, which is the point I am trying to make we are evolving with the massive use of personal transport being the catalyst.
    Situations like this and environmental reasons will reshape personal transport more than personal preferences of a few.

    1. Hello dgate, I think we’re on the same page around the fact that there will be change. I agree that change is coming, and it will be the result of a range of issues. Where we seem to differ is around the place of a company like Bristol in the future. Thinking of the current UK manufacturing scene, I could see Bristol operating in a similar manner to Morgan in terms of linking with a major technology partner like BMW for the legislative hard points like safety, electronics and powertrain but marrying that with their own methods of construction, styling etc. Combined with the existing Bristol restoration and servicing centre, it could be a sustainable business model that remains compliant with whatever wider changes are comimg for personal transport. Is that wrong?

    2. What would be your feelings if using your above post we substituted each mention of Bristol with the word Reliant or Jenson or Jowett or Triumph etc. There are any number of redundant makes that could be revived but I prefer to remember them for what they were not some modern in name only interpretation.
      Afraid we have to agree to disagree.

  5. It makes sense for some but less for others, I think. Reliant can stay dead. Ditto Triumph. Bristol operated until recently and had a distinct character. Morris and Hillman are clearly not worth exhuming. How does that sound?

    1. It depends on ones perspective, take Reliant for example, and I am going for the extreme in choosing the three wheeler of the range, the ethos of that car is more relevant today than the Bristol. Using your suggestion that a major player uprate the defunct car I would suggest Toyota.
      If Reliant backed by Toyota produced something like an i-Road inspired tilting trike it would be pushing boundaries, fit right in with todays environmental and economic issues.
      An affordable low impact car both then and now.
      Point is we don’t need Toyota to revive Reliant since they already have the I-Road tilting trike.

  6. Part of the reason for reviving a name is, I suppose, that there comes a value with the brand. In Reliant you pick a good example of a firm with a relevant product but a terrible name. Bristol´s cars are less relevant if one only assumes Bristol means V8 power and BOF engineering. Another way to look at it is the deeper values of high-quality engineering. Then Bristol can have a wider meaning. Other brands would be much harder to resuscitate, particularly after a long spell in the grave: Triumph, Wolseley, Austin, Hillman. Rover? Saab is marginal but shows some promise. Lancia suggests itself (no surprises). The established firms don´t need to revive names, as you correctly suggest. If Toyota wants to make a solar-powered chocolate-bodied car, it just goes and does it. Actually….only Toyota can do that. Ford and GM would never have the will or nerve. That leaves smaller concerns who lack money and muscle: they need to borrow some cachet, heritage and prestige and a revived nameplate offers that boost, if done properly.
    Can anyone think of a successfully revived brand? Maybach doesn´t count. MG is is marginal. Saab is ….dead? Alive?

    1. I agree about Bugatti. Triumph motorcycles has done an excellent job reviving a fallen brand, but I’m having a hard time thinking of large-scale examples in the car industry. I would say Ariel and Ginetta within their niches (a lean-production business building tube frame ultralightweight cars and a motorcycle under a former bike maker brand; a revival of a small sports car maker as a racing and trackday car constructor) but I don’t know how many years those brands were dormant before being revived.

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