BMW i8: A Smart Sports Car for a Tech Savvy and Classy Individuals

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By Gugu Lourie

What’s the best way to describe personal elegance that is tailored for your individual character? You donning that designer suit from Tiger of Sweden neatly crafted for your beautifully trimmed body? Vintage shoes, you may say.  A fine-looking house in Kraaibosch Country Estate in George. Self-delusion, you may argue. A Patek Philippe timepiece, obviously, but it’s too small to be noticed and you require something that’s fast and perceptible in the streets.

While, I was pondering these questions of how to be stylish with grace; my iPhone rang and it was Lloyd Nedohe on the line. He ask me to come over to his house in Ruimsig Country Estate, a golf estate in the Johannesburg’s West Rand suburb.

He is one of the most sophisticated and humble gentlemen I have met and aspire to dress like him (the day I make my first million).

LLoyd was sitting in the front of his snobbish house sipping something on his trendy glass. Cheerful, wearing a custom made suit, clean shaved head, Lloyd was impressed with me coming to his house in a new BMW i8, in crystal white with blue accents.

We climbed into the BMW i8 and drive around the picturesque Ruimsig area.

Arriving in Sandton at Rivonia On Deck – a business and lifestyle centre that offers a true experience of South Africa’s modern lifestyle – we were welcomed by a car guard who ushered us to park on the front of the hair salon, which is part of the Rivonia On Deck. The place is owned by prominent businessman Kenny Kunene and Gayton McKenzie, who both introduced Jo’burgers to the famous or scandalous ZAR.

After realising we were not celebrities or soccer stars, the car guard politely clipped our wings and informed us that we should be thankful to the stylish BMW i8 for being given a prime spot, which is not usually allocated for parking.

The BMW i8 cuts a dramatic figure amid a coterie of sports cars (such as Audi RS8, Lamborghini, Range Rover Sports, Nissan GT-R etc.) and expensive vehicles parked in front of the Rivonia On Deck.  Even Gayton’s young boys were welcoming enough to take pictures of the BMW i8, and the eldest one exclaimed, ‘this car is beautiful I must really convince my dad to buy it”.

Sandton, the richest square mile in Africa, has always been an area that sets the trends and is where the wealthy showcase their new priced objects. That’s why I was surprised to see the car garnering attention at Rivonia On Deck.

When I called Maphamola Lebelo, a BMW fanatic of note, to relay the attention the BMW i8 was spawning in Kunene and McKenzie’s chic place, he crisply responded: “Gugz, BMW has struck a balance between being environmentally conscious while still oozing elegance. Until now, being a tree hugger meant putt-putting around in some visually challenged junker, the BMW is a clear illustration that a distinguished gentlemen with deep pockets can still save the polar bears without having to compromise on style and swag.”

A statement that embodies the accomplished vision of a modern and sustainable sports car.

The BMW i8 is a sports car that is exclusive and elegant, yet also leaves up to its motto of being ‘The Most Progressive Sports Car”.

I digress.

I told Maphamola will come showed him the car the next day and dropped the call, leaving him wondering whether will really come take him for a ride with the stunning BMW i8 in his Diepkloof ‘Expensive’ in Soweto.

Inside the swanky Rivonia On Deck, situated at the heart of Sandton on 17 Autumn Road in Rivonia, we feasted on some good Mzansi and Nigerian food.  Lloyd waxed lyrically about the potential customers of the BMW i8.

What made the conversation interesting is that Lloyd wasn’t chatting about whether the car has a turbo-boost that makes the car to take off faster, but was talking about the technology qualities of the car.

The car is virtually soundless when you switch-on the ignition, whispered Lloyd.

I blushingly responded, “My chiff, driving a BMW i8 encouraged me to actively explore my playful side, but still kept my integrity intact. It represent style, class and a sense of real ownership of an elegant car for a discerning owner.”

I added as if I was a brand ambassador of BMW, “This car touches your emotions in ways you can’t really explain”.

Lloyd retorted, “It’s a car that is designed and catered for the connoisseur of the BMW brand.”

I quickly listened attentively without disturbing as I realised maybe am about to be schooled by a man who favours the Mercedes Benz brand (and drive one of their elegant cars), but has secretly fallen in love with a Beemer (Thanks to BMW i8).

“You, see this is a car for a niche market owners, who are seeking different kind of value in owning a sports car. This new clientele of BMW who is tech savvy and interested in having the same experience they are having on their expensive smart devices, such as the iPhone and iPad, are seeking the same easy access to data and services they are enjoying on their cool smartphones,” Lloyd explained.

I didn’t want to disturb him in his speech while promoting the BMW brand; as I realised that he has ‘discovered the pure impulse’ that comes with the territory of being in a BMW i8.

He loved BMW i8 combination of an electric motor and a combustion engine and said: “That’s the true convergence of technology in a car.”

The BMW i8 comes with eDrive and intelligent energy management that propels the driver into the modern era of the hybrid sports car. It is also armed with all-wheel drive, which enables it to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds.

The car has a blend of high-tech that helps it protect environment and is powered by an economical hybrid drive system. It has a combination of an electric drive system for emission free driving and a BMW Twin Power Turbo engine for maximum performance. The result is a breath-taking plug-in hybrid sports car with the fuel consumption and emission of a compact vehicle.

As we drive back to Ruimsig Country Estate, Lloyd wants us to take the N1 concrete highway, I knew why.

Test speed of the car.

However, I quickly disappointed him as my driving remained controlled and more leisurely to enjoy the car.

He quickly snapped: “You are a tamed men, Gugu! Just do what the car was intended for.”

I ignored him, but he continued to show his appreciation of the car as I rev to 120km/hour.

“I’m amazed by the way this car fuses together high tech and ecology to create tremendous power,” argued Lloyd.

I informed him boastfully that the BMW i8 in-car app experience linked to the BMW’s iDrive with ConnectedDrive multimedia is as good as it gets. I remembered that in South Africa it is powered by Vodacom SIM cards through its wider network that covers most part of the country. “The on-screen Internet access was fast and I was able to load with ease Techfinancials.co.za. I also integrated my iPhone instantly on the car. That was really stunning,” I told him.

This was aimed at showing off the interoperability of the technology in the BMW i8.

He was chaffed.

The moment we left the N1, and joined the road to Ruimsig I was driving slowly at 70km/hour, some passengers in cars were taking videos and photos of the BMW i8 as it navigates the road. They were either in their husbands or boyfriends or girlfriend’s expensive cars, but they couldn’t resist the BMW i8 as it hugs the ground in typical BMW style as it glides along.

Lloyd left me with powerful questions: Does the in-car app technology increase the value of the car? What backups does the BMW i8 in-car app technology provides if the network is off?  What should you do if you are out of range of the network?

After all the amusement from the drivers on our way to Ruimsig and questions from Lloyd, I went home to sleep.

Still enjoying the car, in the morning, I went to see Maphamola in Diepklook with a fully charged BMW i8.

As I entered Diepkloof the car solicited screaming ladies and guys who wanted to have images for their social media pages. I obliged. But it was really awkward for me as I am not an insatiable attention seeker – thanks to my parents.

But I was happy that the car was given a stamp of approval and belonging by the residents of the oldest township in South Africa – Soweto. Everywhere we drove with Maphamola in Soweto; the BMW i8 was given a double clenched fist salute.  To get a clenched fist, mostly associated with struggle resistance, was as a symbol of approval of the German machine – the BMW i8.

I think this could only be attributed to the monolithic appearance of the BMW i8 that lends it an extraordinary powerful stature.

Maphamola loved the spectacular silhouette of the BMW i8.

When we visited Maphamola’s friend, aptly called Mcgyver by his moniker, dabbles up as a specialist in old BMWs and Mercs, I quickly showed them how the comfort access really works. I locked the BMW i8 and slipped the remote control in my pocket and ask them to open the car and as expected they couldn’t access it. I thereafter went to the car to open it without activating the remote control. They didn’t believe me. We slipped the key into Maphamola’s pockets and I couldn’t open the car but he was.

Maphamola’s gorgeous daughters loved the spectacular scissor doors of the BMW i8.  The doors swing upwards when opened. They said the scissor doors made the car to look as if it was about to take off like an aeroplane.

The BMW i8, which went on sale in South Africa in March 2015, combines the uncompromising performance of a BMW M3.

Final verdict

The BMW i8 it’s a fantastic car.

It is available from R1.93 million in South Africa.

Now I know what personal elegance is after enjoying the stylish BMW i8.

So I am inviting those who can spare R2 million to try this beautiful machine and they shall be awe struck with its technology and beauty.

Last year, global sales of the BMW i8 exceeded the combined figure of all other hybrid sports cars produced by other manufacturers; 5,456 units of the i8, which is powered by the combination of a three-cylinder turbocharged engine and an electric drive system, were sold worldwide in 2015.

This is a car for a tech savvy and distinguished gentleman.

BMW i8
BMW i8, A car for a tech savvy and distinguished gentleman (Photo Credit: Gugu Lourie)
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