- Futuristic design
- High levels of performance
- Low running costs
- Rear is a bit cramped for passengers
There are heading turning cars that are nearly £1m and there are concept cars that never really make it through to the market, but BMW managed to design a car that does turn heads and is a fraction of the price of a million pound supercar. Say hello to the BMW i8.
BMW unveiled their i8 concept car back in 2009 with the production version showcased at the Frankfurt Motor Show four years later as part of BMW’s i brand, which also has the i3 city car. The i8 has already proved a hit selling out within a few months of its release a few years ago.
On The Road
What powers the BMW i8 is a 131hp electric motor for the front wheels and a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine for the rear wheels. This produces 231hp and 320Nm of torque, so combined propels the i8 from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.4 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.
Using a six-speed automatic transmission there are three driving modes: Comfort, Eco Pro and Sport. It is possible to just run the car on electric by pressing the eDrive button, up to a range of 23 miles and the i8 is no slouch as it can reach speeds of up to 75mph.
Comfort mode will use electric up to 37mph and once at higher speeds, or when the battery is very low, it will then run on the engine.
Eco Pro mode will make the BMW i8 run even more efficiently, while Sport mode will use both the engine and electric motor to change the dynamics of the car. In this mode it can be driven manually through the gearshift or steering wheel paddles and you get instant acceleration as you put your foot down with a deep, booming engine noise combined with the futuristic sounding whine of the electric motor. It’s almost like music to your ears, if engine noise is your thing.
Steering is light but accurate and it makes for an easy drive, my colleague describing it as a supercar for beginners. You will never feel like you’re going to lose control, as you may in some rivals when you floor it. The i8 has plenty of stability as it has a very low centre of gravity, the ride is comfortable thanks to adaptive dampers and it also is light weight due to its aluminium construction materials which include the use of carbon-fibre.
The BMW i8 is quite futuristic looking, its low, wide stance and spectacular design angles make it one of the best looking cars of recent times but with the i8, designers have pulled off an automotive masterpiece with the double kidney grille, V-shaped lines from the front to the rear and the unique looking rear LED lights.
Added to this are doors that swing upward giving it an even more interesting silhouette and the materials used in them make them lighter than conventional doors so are easier to open and shut.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
The interior is stunningly simple yet sporty with light cream leather seats and trim inserts making the car feel light. With the cockpit positioned to aid the snug fitting driver and the centre stack visually sectioning the i8, the centre console is easy to access along with the iDrive Touch controller.
This easy to use dial lets you access all media, car information and navigation that is displayed on the 8.8-inch high-resolution control screen. Another screen in front of the driver displays the rev counter, speedo and all-important energy use.
Ambient lighting is a great addition which is available to change from blue, amber and white. It can light up the footwell, interior door lines and the instrument panel.
Standard equipment on the BMW i8 includes cruise control with brake and speed limiting function, enhanced bluetooth with voice control, head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, Park Distance Control system on both front and rear, heated front seats and a tyre pressure monitor.
Space & Practicality
Actually getting in the car isn’t that easy, sliding in is a way to describe getting into the front seat. But once in, the narrow, lightweight and comfortable seats encase driver and passenger in the very driver focussed cabin.
Not surprisingly there isn’t a huge amount of space in the rear, there are seats for two but adults will struggle for headroom and you might find your head contorted at odd angles, so best to just put children in the back. It isn’t ideal, but then who cares, it’s not a people carrier. Boot space isn’t overly big either, don’t expect to get suitcases in there, as the well hidden engine takes up the space.
The BMW i8 is priced from £104,540, it’s a great car, but having a hybrid powertrain does it lack being an all out supercar as say the Porsche 911? The BMW i8 will have its lovers and they have done a great job of designing a car that looks stunning, has the performance and very low running costs.
BMW claim it can achieve a combined 134.5mpg and 49g/km of CO2 emissions, but all that will depend on how you drive it. Those figures are certainly impressive and you’ll struggle to find another supercar that matches it. And how many supercars are exempt from road tax?
BMW have an iHome charging unit which will charge the i8 in two hours while the rapid charging network is expanding in the UK if you require a top up.
Quality & Reliability
Everything about the build quality of the BMW i8 is top notch, it really can’t be faulted as they’ve used materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium to make it lightweight yet durable.
Reliabilty wise there have been no known issues with the i8 or i brand, and BMW do well in this area as the i8 has the accolades to prove its success, it was named the UK Car of the Year in 2015 and also scooped the World Green Car award.
Safety & Security
BMW have made the passenger cell out of carbon fibre so it’s very strong and safe, there are also six airbags and driver assistance systems include Surround and Side view camera systems to aid with parking, a Blind Spot system will automatically decelerate if it detects a person or obstacle at low speeds, cruise control with a braking function and high beam assistance.
There is ISOFIX in the rear for child seats, a tyre pressure monitoring system and security for the i8 includes an alarm and engine immobiliser.