The more I learn about the BMW i8 the more I want one. Partly that’s because of the technical mastery behind the i8’s hybrid powerplant, but its also because of the design.
One of the reasons I think I like the i8 so much is that it reminds of the fantastic but short lived M1.
A brief note for anyone who is not boring enough to have memorized the history of BMW’s M division; the M1 was built in the days that many race series actually required you to sell to the public the car you raced. So, BMW went about building the M1 with the help of Lamborghini. The result was a stunning, low, mid-engined race car for the road, something truly ahead of its time. Oh and BMW managed to sell just 456 of them.
It’s is now remembered by car bores everywhere as one of the greatest BMWs, not to mention the founding father of some of the best sports sedans the world has ever seen.
That brings me back to the i8. This car is clearly a big step forward, and in some ways it has a lot in common with the M1. When you see a BMW rep take you through the details of this car’s design as in the video below, you see another stunning, low slung coupe, that looks like it came from the future.
Just like the M1, except for the mandatory double kidney grille, it hardly looks like a Bimmer. The lines are fluid and dynamic. Gone is the blocky silhouette we have come to expect from the Bavarians. Instead the i8 sits low to the ground, its wedge shape only accented by flaring hips.
What I think really makes the design works is the layering pointed out in the film. A lot of futuristic car designs are pretty simple, with long boring curves. They end up looking like half circles. Not so the i8, the lines around the wheel arches and the sort of faux hood-scoop give the car volume and depth. Besides I am a sucker for any car that has some sort of atypical doors.
In the end though, my favorite thing about the i8, is that, like the M1, it doesn’t look like a BMW. Not that looking like a Bimmer is a bad thing, its just exciting to see a car company try something different. So kudos to BMW for trying something new, and doing such a good job of it.