There’s a battle brewing in the performance car world between vehicles that plug-in, and those that fill-up. Upstart cars like the BMW i8 are even challenging other BMWs, like the M4, in the battle to win sales and fans. The i8 and M4 are pretty evenly matched on paper, but when push comes to shove, the winner shouldn’t be surprising, even if you can’t speak German.
Yes, the video isn’t in English as it comes to us courtesy of Germany’s Auto Bild magazine, but you don’t need a translator for drag racing. If you are wondering what the host is saying though, you can add the closed captioning and select a YouTube translator, which isn’t perfect, but you’ll get the gist of the video.
If you don’t want to deal with poorly-translated German though, let me lay out the details. The M4 sports a 425 horsepower twin-turbo inline six-cylinder that churns out 406 lb-ft of torque, which is a solid output regardless of your preferences. The BMW i8 makes due with half the cylinders but a pair of electric motors making 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, though as history has proven time and again, it’s not how much power you have, but how you use it, that makes all the difference. That’s why the i8 is Top Gear’s Car of the Year.
In this case, the instantaneous nature of the electric motors gives the i8 an all-wheel drive advantage and plenty of instant power to take the lead. The high-revving turbo three-cylinder keeps it there though, and the M4 ends up losing by a couple of car lengths. Now I’ll grant you, the M4 is heavier by about one American passenger (about 300 pounds), but start at just over $64,000, it’s also approximately half the price of the i8 before the inevitable dealer markup.
If you can afford it though, the BMW i8 is obviously the superior choice, for both the planet and performance. Of course you might as well cross-shop the Tesla Model S too, and that’s a much closer comparison when it comes right down to it.