Now that both BMW and Tesla have announced Australian pricing for their incoming eco supercars, we got thinking. Would you buy a BMW i8 or Tesla Model S?

Even though these cars are slightly different, in the eco car world, these both have made a massive impact on changing the perspective of what it means to drive, own and live with a hybrid or electric car.

So, let’s crunch some non-scientific numbers and throw in some subjectivity to find a winner!

The numbers

To kick off this paper comparison, let’s look at the numbers. These definitely aren’t all the numbers, but they are some of the standouts.

2014 Tesla Model S

BMW i8 Tesla Model S P85 (Performance)
0-100km/h 4.4 seconds 4.4 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h 210km/h
Power 266kW (96kW electric/170kW combustion) 310kW (electric)
Torque 570Nm 430Nm
Range 37km (electric) 600km (petrol) 502km (electric)
Weight 1485kg 2108kg
Fuel Economy 2.1L/100km n/a
Battery Size 5.2kWh 85kWh
Battery Warranty 8 years/100,000km 8 years/unlimited km
Seating capacity 4 seats 5 seats
Doors 2 passenger doors 4 passenger doors

 

The highlights here are the drastically different approaches to achieving a similar end result with performance. Both reach 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds and they share a close enough top speed, though that’s entirely irrelevant in Australia.

Our Top 10 Cars for 2014: BMW i8

If we look at the rest of the numbers, you’ll probably choose the Tesla over the BMW. Why? The Tesla has more power, a 502km pure electric range, a better battery warranty and some more room for your rear passengers.

Based on these points, we are awarding the Tesla this one.

Winner: Tesla Model S P85

Pricing

You want to own one of these, but how much will these cost on the road? Let’s take a look.

BMW i8 Tesla Model S P85
Manufacturer List Price $299,000 $119,900
QLD Drive Away Price $314,917.70 $134,294

2014 Tesla Model S

It’s easy to see the massive difference in price between the BMW i8 and the top of the range Tesla Model S P85. Though, BMW Australia has our local version of the i8 fairly well optioned; in the Tesla we need to tick some boxes to bring it up to a similar spec.

In top of the range Model S P85 you will need to add $600 for parking sensors, $600 for the fog lamps, $3,100 for the premium sound system, and $4,600 for the Tech package;  adding GPS navigation, keyless entry, power seats, and LED cornering lights.

This brings our comparative Model S price to $145,865.

Ok, so it didn’t really close down that pricing gap with the Tesla at half the price of the BMW i8.

BMW i8

Despite the non-standard options list being quite long, we are going to hand this round to the Tesla. You can pretty much buy two Model S vehicles for the price of one BMW i8.

Winner: Tesla Model S P85

Technology

We aren’t going to award any points in this section, purely because of the different approaches and different vehicle types, however its information definitely worth being across.

BMW’s i8 is a plug-in hybrid, using a 96kW electric motor to power the front wheels and a 170kW 1.5litre 3cylinder petrol engine to power the rear wheels. In essence, this is an all-wheel-drive car when using hybrid mode.

BMW i8

If you’re wanting to be extra eco-friendly you can drive the car just using the electric motor for up to 37km. And yes, this does mean you’re driving a front-wheel-drive BMW!

If you’re wanting to plug in the BMW, you’ll have the full electric range ready in under 3 hours using a standard charger at home.

As for the Tesla model, it’s a plug-in electric vehicle that relies on a single 310kW electric motor to power the rear wheels. There’s no regular combustion engine to back you up when you run out of power.

Tesla Model S Interior

But don’t worry, soon you’ll be able to recharge your Model S using a Supercharger that is an ultra-high voltage way to juice up the batteries.

For a full recharge using a Supercharger, you’ll be good to go in just a couple of hours. If you’re using a home charger, be prepared for an overnight charge to travel 502km.

The looks

Cars are art and art is subjective but we think you’ll agree with us on this one.

BMW surprised everyone when the original BMW Concept Vision Efficient Dynamics concept car was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Thankfully most of those stunning looks as shown on the concept have remained in the production models.

BMW i8

With the look of a mid-engine supercar, with ‘butterfly wing’ doors and all, the BMW really commands a presence on the road. In production form, the Laser Headlights, LED taillights and other technologies incorporated into the car on the outside make it look like this hybrid is from the future.

On the inside there is typical BMW modern design with some unique BMW i inclusions. There’s also a heap of technology as standard including a full-colour head up display, digital dash and iDrive system.

When it comes to the Tesla, most road going people probably won’t notice it. Despite the space age technology underneath, the Tesla looks like any other four-door vehicle on the road today.

2014 Tesla Model S

Sure, those who know Tesla will know one when they see one, but it definitely doesn’t share the same level of presence as the BMW i8. If you’re lucky enough to get inside one, you step into an entirely different world. You’re met with lots of high end materials including Alcantara and a single large LCD panel in the middle.

It definitely feels like the future inside the Tesla.

If you’re the silent powerful business type, you’ll prefer the Tesla. If you like the supercar look and the wing doors you’ll want the BMW i8.

We’re choosing the i8 for this one.

Winner: BMW i8

Verdict: Tesla Model S P85

With a lower asking price, comfortable seating for five people and no need for fuel, the Tesla Model S P85 is our winner in this comparison.

That doesn’t mean we don’t like the BMW i8. We love it because it’s the first bold departure from the norm for BMW and it paves the way for not-so-boring eco-friendly driving. Everything about the exterior design is awesome and we wouldn’t change it one bit.

We also believe that if you’re in the market for a BMW i8, the asking price isn’t going to be that much of a consideration anyway. You’re going to buy it because you want it.

2014 Tesla Model S

For the mass market, the Tesla Model S puts itself in the forefront for everyday road goers. Pricing wise it places itself up against the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E Class sedans.

All that Tesla needs to do is expand its dealer network around Australia to gain some real traction here.

If you want to build or configure either of the cars, check out the links below and don’t forget to let us know which one you’d choose!

Tesla Model S page.

BMW i8 page.

About The Author

AshMan, aka Ashley, has had a passion for cars since playing with Matchbox cars as a youngster. Currently working on World Domination and looks foward to seeing you on the small screen soon. He also likes people following him on Twitter: @ashmansays

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3 Responses

  1. Ashton

    Some of the specs are incorrect such as the 0-60mph Tesla advertises at 4.2s and some other places say 3.9s

    • Ashley

      Hi Ashton,

      All of our specs have been sourced from the Australian website where our specs or data might differ slightly.

      Thanks!

  2. Scotty Weir

    If I could afford one, at least I could drive to Sydney in a BMW.