Interview: Paulo Alves, Managing Director, BMW Group Ireland

28 Jan 2015 | 10.18 am

Interview: Paulo Alves, Managing Director, BMW Group Ireland

BMW’s i8 supercar combines flair with green motoring to striking effect

28 Jan 2015 | 10.18 am

It may cost as much as a small house in rural France, but the BMW i8 looks absolutely stunning and manages to be both a supercar and a poster boy for green motoring at the same time, writes Olive Keogh.

This hi-tech chameleon’s acceleration time from 0-62mph is just 4.4 seconds, but at just 49g/km its C02 output is lower than that of many superminis.

The all-wheel-drive i8 combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors to provide combined power of 357bhp. Average fuel use is 2.1 litres per 100km, which is around 135mpg. However, this assumes that a large component of the driving undertaken will be in electric mode. The mpg figure when the petrol engine is predominantly used is more like 40mpg, still impressive for a supercar with blistering performance.

The i8 falls into the exotics category, and within a European context this segment is forecast to grow by 60% over the next two years. This would see it rise to around 21,000 units, with the BMW i8 and Audi R8 expected to be big contributors to the growth. The best-selling supercar in Europe in 2014 was the Bentley Continental GT/GTC, followed by the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Audi R8. The Irish market for supercars is very small but two i8s have already been sold and BMW Ireland has confirmed orders for seven more.

The i8 is built on a newly developed aluminium chassis with a carbon fibre body. It has a range of 600km when petrol and electric power are combined. The range on electric alone is just 37km, which really only viable in full electric mode for city hops. According to BMW’s R&D chief, Herbert Diess, the i8 is the most revolutionary car BMW has ever built. If, as Diess believes, all top-of-the-range sports cars will rely on some form of electrification within ten years, then the i8 is indeed a trailblazer.

If you don’t like being stared at, do not buy an i8. Secondly, long legs or at least an ability to vault the rather high and wide driver’s doorsill elegantly would be a distinct advantage. The i8 has big, attention-grabbing gullwing doors, so there is no possibility of ever making a discreet entrance or exit. Once you’ve landed inside, the seats are hip-huggingly comfortable. The wraparound dashboard creates a cockpit-like ambience, topped off with a pair of HD screens beaming key information.

For a supercar, the i8 is a surprisingly easy drive, and with instant pulling power available from the electric motor, it glides into action with a powerful response. There is noticeable tyre noise, the two back seats are impractical for regular use and the bootspace is limited. But for a car that looks and goes like the i8, one will forgive a lot.

Model: BMW i8
Engine: Plug-in hybrid combining a 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors
Safety: Carbon passenger cell, city collision warning, surround cameras, high beam assist, speed limit information, multiple airbags
Price: €136,430 (this includes an SEAI grant of €5,000 and VRT relief of €2,500)
Fuel consumption: Average combined 2.1L/110km
Verdict: Drop dead gorgeous with a drive to match


Interview with Paulo Alves, Managing Director, BMW Group Ireland

BMW Paulo Alves 810


What new cars are on the way from BMW in 2015?

2014 was very busy and saw the launch of the new MINI 3-door and 5-door hatch, the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, the 4 Series Convertible, the new 2 Series Coupe and the new BMW i8. One of the most important models launched in 2014 was the 2 Series Active Tourer MPV.  The X family expanded too with the launch of the new BMW X4. Early next year sees the launch of the new BMW X6 and the 2 Series Convertible.

Any revised models?
The X3 received a facelift in 2014 with significant changes to the exterior design and an increased level of standard specification such as automatic tailgate, heated front seats, media package business and BMW Emergency Call. Customers can also now choose a new xLine model to further personalise their X3.

What particular models are doing well for BMW?
The new 318d SE and the 520d are our core models and our remarkable 2.0-litre diesel is by far the most popular engine choice.  Its segment leading CO2 emissions ensures lower VRT and running costs.  We have also seen a big spike in the take up of our Service Inclusive 5-year servicing option as people seek to minimise their running costs.

What is your most economical model?
The BMW i3 BEV (battery electric vehicle) which can also be purchased with a range extender (REX model) to double the range up to 300kms.

How is your PCP offering performing?
Almost half of all cars purchased on finance in 2014 availed of our PCP product, BMW Select. It offers fixed monthly repayments without the worry of depreciation or selling the vehicle on at the end of the agreement.






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