German engineering proudly on display at Munich International Airport

Posted by Paul Braren on Nov 18 2014 in
  • Efficiency
  • During my month long stay in Germany recently, I drove about 2,000 miles on the Autobahn, with a lot of manual shifting. A Fiat 500L Diesel for 2 weeks, a Mercedes 8 seat van for a day (long story, exploring my half-German roots), and a Ford Fiesta for another two weeks. Yep, driving that little Fiesta was no party out on the Autobahn, with a regular flow of BMW, Mercedes, Audis, and occasional Porches to my left, blowing past me. Yes, you could certainly feel their wake.

    Interesting to note how the uniquely shaped modern LED headlamps have become a branding of sorts, as I quickly learned to identify what was about to pass by me. Quick and frequent glances in the rear view mirrors were essential survival skills, especially when I dared enter the left passing lane, even if only briefly to get past a truck. If it looked expensive, probably best to wait for it to pass.

    I had thought about trying to make it to one of those famed Stuttgart's Mercedes and Porche factory tours, but turns out they're given on weekdays only, when I was busy working. That meant I was far less incented to drive down for the weekend museum visits, so i enjoyed quite the adventures elsewhere, in 4 countries actually. Lamenting not getting to see those factories, luck would have it that just 2 hours before my flight home, I was very pleasantly surprised to see some fine examples of Germany engineering right in the Munich International Airport. Great way to kill some time, right after I failed to exchange my bag full of Euro coins.

    This BMW i8 uses a plug-in hybrid design called eDrive, and uses a mere 1.5 liter gasoline engine. The Audi R8 is kind of the opposite. No hybrid drive, just a big honkin' engine, kinda hard to miss. To me personally, the BMW is much more interesting, wish I could have seen under the hood. How do they do it? After all, my rental's little 120HP 1.6L Fiesta engine had more displacement than this BMW. But the BMW can do 0-60MPH in about 4.4 seconds, here's how, see the specs.

    I'm now back in the USA, tooling around in my rubber-band powered 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. I quite like my little car actually. Given I'm usually driving alone in it, efficiency matters more than power, and it's retrofitted with all the tech I need for those longer trips.

    There isn't much more to say here about Germany's famed engineering, since I only got a brief glimpse. But you might also notice that the little BMW logo at the center of the wheel is precisely oriented. I doubt that's accidental.

    Hopefully just looking at the photos leaves you as speechless as I was, and apparently these cars had the same effect on many of the passers-by too. Enjoy!

    For video of the BMW i8, see also The Verge Thunder and lightning: BMW i8 review.