i sees red

A red-hot edition of the BMW i8 is in the wings … but, in the meantime, BMW has produced a special edition of the current in that colour. Huzzah!


CONTRARY to popular belief, even when cars were new, black wasn’t the only colour a buyer could have.

Various other hues - blue, yellow, green and also red – were also available.

Nowadays, obviously, the sky is the limit and red, as a for instance, isn’t that noteworthy.

Well, not normally. However, for BMW, the i8 presents an exception as, until now, the halo hybrid sportscar has usually been delivered with a blue hue, an intentional strategy because this is the colour German brands have decided is the required shade to highlight their especially environmentally-friendly cars. Why not use Green? Good question, but moving on …

So, anyway, if you see an i8 in Protonic Red then it is extra special, apparently. In New Zealand, in fact, such a car is actually one of a kind: Of the limited run of i8s produced in this shade, just one has made it to our market (five went to Australia).

Red is actually just the dominant colour. The outlandishly-styled car has metallic accents in contrasting Frozen Grey, while a slightly different Orbit Grey metallic colour is used for the 20-inch W-spoke alloy wheels.

On the inside, the Protonic Red edition gets ‘spheric’ leather trim with red stitching highlights through the cabin.

The stitching is contrasted by anthracite headliner, grey seatbelts, carbon-fibre interior trim and black ceramic finish to the gear selector switch cover and central console. Underfoot are velour and leather floor mats with red stitching, and door sills come with a Protonic Red finish.

While the scheme gives the model an extra level of exclusivity, it doesn’t affect the sticker. The Protonic Red edition is the same money as a regular i8: So, $282,000.

So who is game to buy into this? Will it be a newbie to the burgeoning buyer club - since going on sale at the start of 2015, the i8 has sold 82 units, including 21 this year to the end of July - or an existing owner seeking to sit apart from that modest-sized crowd?

BMW New Zealand’s corporate communications manager, Garry Ferris, has not provided responses to those questions, but he has supplied comment about the car on behalf of his boss.

BMW NZ managing director Florian Renndorfer reckons “the BMW i8 has stood out from the sports car crowd” and believes the “… limited-edition Protonic Red Edition is even more exclusive, reinforcing the i8’s combination of performance, efficiency and style.”

Ah yes. Performance: Under the bonnet the limited edition is unchanged from the regular i8, with its 170kW/320Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine teamed to a 96kW/250Nm electric motor on the front axle for a combined output of 266kW/570Nm.

That’s pretty fair wallop, enough to enable 0-100kmh in 4.4 seconds, but apparently Munich - perhaps in light of being left eating the dust of Tesla's Model S when fitted with the latest Ludicrous mode - is already now looking at how to enhance the stonk.

According to overseas’ reports, it’ll create the uber i8 by improving the electric urge and completely dropping the combustion side of things. In place of the tri-pot engine will come a high-revving, three-motor electric setup.

Not only will this make the car more “green,” its performance should improve dramatically: There’s talk of it achieving 560kW. In addition, this next generation edition is expected to feature four-wheel steering, four-wheel drive, torque vectoring, active suspension, and an impressive 480km.

To us, red-blooded seems much more impressive than a red paint job, but don’t expect to feel the rush for a while yet. There’s talk this kind of i8 won’t hit the street until at least 2022.

Plenty of time for a few more limited editions of the current model, then …