“Test Drive-Thru” is a series where we review new cars and new fast food items.
If the BMW i8 were to go vertical and shoot into the troposphere, we wouldn’t be surprised. It looks like the design and engineering department didn’t so much make a sports car as they chopped the wings off an F-35, only the BMW actually works. There are sharp lines, cuts, and trenches all over the car, the most distinctive aspect being the cutouts in the tail lights. There are probably aerodynamic benefits to the cuts too, but we weren’t really thinking about those. We were thinking about having a dogfight with a MIG.
Speaking of building things, Hardee’s recently released the Budweiser Beer Cheese Bacon Burger. Beer cheese is usually good, but sometimes sucks. We realize that could be said about every food, but we feel it’s especially pertinent to beer cheese. We’ve had beer cheese that blew our minds, but we’ve also had beer cheese that gave us food poisoning. We consider those two opposite ends of the spectrum, since being poisoned by something means the hatred is mutual. Luckily for Hardee’s (but mostly us), we did not get food poisoning from anything they gave us, beer cheese or otherwise.
It’s obvious from a glance that the car’s a lowrider. You would have to be an exceptionally small child to fit under it and even then, you’d literally be hard pressed to squeeze anything more than an arm beneath the frame. Add in the natural tilt in the seats and how much gravity you use to get in, and this feels more like a car you ooze into, not sit down in. The only other things we’ve ever sat in that was remotely similar to this were those roller coasters with hanging seats. In the BMW’s case though, there wasn’t a shoulder harness or the risk of contracting hepatitis.
The low-riding nature of the car actually became a minor issue. It bottomed out on a few turns and bumps we normally take without a second thought. We corrected it with a little cautious driving, but that initial scrape was enough to give us a small panic attack. But once we got over it and got the car back on the highway and up to speed, those worries were left far behind.
There’s also the fact that to do real damage, there has to be some weight to the car, but this is easily one of the lightest vehicles on the market. That’s thanks mostly to the frame, which is made of carbon fiber composites. They left part of it exposed in the doors too, so you can see it if you open the door and look at the bottom of the door frame. It’s the part with a gray and black lattice structure.
There are two engines in the car, one electric under the hood and one Mini Cooper engine in the back. Depending on how you drove and what mode you drove in, you could use one, the other, or a mix of both. The electric can take you about 17 miles and gets you up to 75 mph. The electric engine will recharge itself when you slow down and break, and those small bonuses gave us a small but noticeable boost in range. But if you try to accelerate too quickly, the gas engine jumps in to help out. It’s an odd balancing act that we couldn’t quite get in the week we had it, but we wouldn’t have needed much more time to figure it out.
If you leave the car in normal driving mode, you’ll have nothing to complain about. You’ll get good gas mileage—great when compared to some other sports cars—it’ll be a fun drive, and you’ll be going a reasonable enough speed that plenty of people will be pulling up next to you to admire your recreational jet fighter. But you didn’t get this car to drive in normal mode and neither did we.
Switching to sport fully engages the back engine while turning the electric motor into more of a safety feature than a propulsion system. There’s a soft but meaningful growl from the trunk and the sensitivity of the gas pedal increases exponentially. If you hover your shoe slightly above the gas pedal, you’d hit 60 in a sensible twenty seconds. If you actually touch the pedal, you’re looking at an even four.
Performance isn’t the only thing that changes. When you switch to sport, the dashboard readout goes from a friendly blue and white to a matador-murdering red. We were surprised at how drastic a change that actually was for us. Before the switch we were driving like regular people and after we were actively looking for anything that could pass as a ramp.
The aerodynamics of the car are sharp enough that on the few windy days in the time we had it, ones that would have pushed ordinary cars around a little, the i8 didn’t budge. It slid straight through the air like a bird with no wings that can also run really fast. Like a velociraptor. This car drives like a velociraptor runs. Another, newer example. We laid a piece of paper on the top of the car but the paper pretty much ignored the car and slid right to the ground. Most cars have a place or two that would have caught the paper, but it was like the i8 wasn’t even there.
Speaking of not there, we noticed the locks don’t make noise when they lock. It’s a small detail and one we only realized a few days in, but once we noticed, we couldn’t help but be amused. We’re not sure exactly what function that serves, but it’s a fun detail nonetheless.
Budweiser’s really weird about insisting that they’re upholding the rich history of American beer. Historically speaking, the most American beer tradition is having thousands of different kinds of American beers, not being a part of a mindbogglingly enormous multinational conglomeration that buys out its competition rather than actually attempt to make a quality product. Although, now that we type that out, we may have figured out the most cynically traditional American business practice there is.
Not to get down on Budweiser, it’s just that they need to find a marketing campaign that isn’t pandering to the audience they want while simultaneously insulting everything that audience likes. You know, like they did at the Super Bowl last year.
However. They may have found exactly the thing to start getting back in our good graces. The Budweiser Beer Cheese Bacon Burger is the kind of delicious that only happens when you’re eating something you’re not supposed to be eating. Like if you’re trying to eat healthily, or are that peanut allergy kid who couldn’t take it anymore.
We’d like to distance this burger from the trend of all those other weird team ups. People have made beer cheese burgers for things that weren’t only shameless grabs for quick profits, and a beer cheese burger makes way more sense than Cheetos Chicken Fries. There’s a more authentic feeling motivation to the burger. Sort of like how sticking an electric motor in a high end BMW serves more function than trying to cash in on the uptick in electric car sales. What a great and seamless way to relate both products.
Natural pairing of car and burger aside, we didn’t actually eat the burger in the car. Beer cheese is an excellent topping for a burger, but it doesn’t go so well with a meticulously designed German interior.
Now that our total experience with both products has ended and our ultimate opinion has been formed, our main complaint is the lack of semi-nude Kate Uptons in, on, or around our car. If we were driving a Civic or a Camry, we’d understand. But we went through the trouble of getting an i8, so you’d think internationally renowned supermodels would be a little more understanding and available.
Although, to be fair, if you actually watch her ad, we’re not convinced she ever really bites the burger. Her eating looks more pantomimed and the burger is more waved around and rubbed places than actually consumed. Maybe her unquestioning loyal to the Hardee’s burger and brand wasn’t the reason Kate Upton was in that commercial.
We were also far too ashamed of ourselves after eating our beer cheese smothered monstrosity to actually interact with her. We did get the double.
Car Score (on a scale of AB-Inbev Products to a Trappist Monk’s Home Brew): Portland’s Craft Brewing Scene
Food Score (on a Five Guys burger scale): Four and a Half Guys
- BMW i8
- 420 lb-ft of torque
- 76 MPGe
- 0-60 in 4.2s
- 357 Horsepower
- MSRP: Starting at $140,700
- All Natural Budweiser Beer Cheese Bacon Burger (Double)
- 940 Calories
- 55g Fat
- 155mg Cholesterol
- 1800mg Sodium
- Starting at $8.59