We’ve been accused of preferring older car designs to new ones. Rightly so, a majority of the cars that we feature are at least 10 years old, with a fair chunk now being over 20 years old. Are we out of touch with the market? Well, certainly that could be said – however, I think if you poll all of the authors here (and, a majority of our fans), most people just don’t get as excited about a car that you can pop down to the dealership and buy versus one that’s been well traveled, taken care of, and is hard to find in good shape. It’s the same reason why Antiques Roadshow is so popular; anyone can go buy the popular toy of the day and leave it in its original packing – but find a toy from the 1950s or 1960s in its original package and the pricing will probably surprise you. Heck, even my Transformers from when I was a kid are now quite valuable in good shape.
So we’re only interested in old cars? Well, not so fast – there have been several very exciting and pioneering designs that are quickly transforming the automotive landscape even as I write. The Porsche 918 Spyder, for example, has redefined supercars along with the LaFerrari and P1. They’ve looked at hybrid technology not as the death of performance, but as an opportunity to better exploit it. However, all three of these designs are ultra-limited, ultra-exclusive and ultra-expensive cars, leaving mere mortals without hedge funds to dream of owing them only in passing flights of fancy. However, BMW has taken a very different route with its hybrid technology, offering two platforms that are both brilliant and innovative in their own ways. The admittedly less exciting, more practical application is the i3; a small electric city car. Our editor Paul recently checked one of these out at a dealer and posted it to our Facebook Fanpage; the reaction from enthusiasts was less than, well…enthusiastic. However, I suggested that BMW’s departure into functional, efficient designs was at least innovative and admirable – this is technology that won’t kill cars, but will in fact allow them to thrive and continue for generations to come. Perhaps, then, the more exciting application of BMW’s efficient design “i” branding will sway you – the lightweight, sporty i8:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2014 BMW i8 on eBay
Engine: 1.5 liter turbocharged inline-3 with parallel 98kw electric motor
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Mileage: 90 mi
Price: $219,900 Buy It Now
PURE IMPULSE WORLD UPGRADE
One could argue that the reinvention of the 8-series moniker was a disservice to the original; I disagree. The E31 pioneered a new frontier for BMW, with electronics, a new design language and took BMW to a different market. There is no more fitting designation than the i8 in my mind. The slinky, futuristic coupe utilizes lightweight construction to keep the curb weight down; 3,200 lbs may not sound particularly lightweight, but keep in mind that the BRZ/FR-S twins are lauded for their light design and are only a few hundred pounds less without all of the heavy electric equipment and twin motors. Pushing the very aerodynamic lithe coupe are two motors that run together or separately – a 1.5 liter turbocharged inline-3 coupled with a smaller version of the i3’s electric motor. The results of this combination are pretty astounding; a combined 357 horsepower results in 60 miles an hour in 3.8 seconds and a near effortless limited 155 m.p.h. top speed. Couple that with the ability to drive for around 20 miles with no assistance from the gasoline motor, and the 911-like performance is truly impressive. What’s really amazing, though, is that this car offers this performance and impressive technology at a relatively reasonable price – about what a loaded 911 or Audi R8 would cost you. So in demand are these cars right now that this was the cheapest “used” one I could buy; a quick trip to BMW’s configuration tool tells you that this car is on offer a shocking $70,000 over MSRP. Sure, the design is more polarizing than those two cars, which tread a much more traditional route. However, tradition doesn’t tend to solve the world’s problems – we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a relatively long period of incredible horsepower numbers in ever-increasingly complex, heavy and more expensive cars. BMW has broken out of the mold to produce a truly stunning and imaginative design, and for that we can all be thankful!