Who’s it for?
The new BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid supercar that’s expensive to buy, but as affordable to run as a family hatchback. It boasts stunning performance, striking looks, and is aimed at buyers who want raw pace and power, but who also want to reduce their carbon footprint – and the amount they spend on petrol.
Its £112,000 price tag is likely to turn as many heads as its looks, and its nearest supercar rivals include the petrol-powered Ferraris and McLaren’s, which will cost a lot more to run. The Tesla Model S and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid are both cheaper to buy.
Electric Motor and Handling
Power comes from a twin petrol engine and electric motor attack. A 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine develops 228bhp, while an electric motor adds a further 129bhp. Together, they can get the i8 from rest to 62mph in 4.4 seconds.
There are three driving settings to choose from:
- Eco Pro – helps to keep running costs even lower
- Comfort – primes the car for cruising
- Sport – boosts the car’s speed
The Sport mode also turns the dashboard dials red, and it’s only when you select this mode that the i8 can cover the 0-62 sprint in 4.4 seconds.
Try as they might, the petrol engine and electric motor don’t sound as thrilling as a conventional supercar, but performance is first rate. As soon as you press the accelerator, the i8 responds with a bite.
Four-wheel-drive is standard and grip is good. The i8 sports a lightweight body, which improves its nimbleness, while body roll isn’t an issue.
On the whole, the i8 doesn’t offer as much drama as a traditional sports car.
The cabin looks as radical as you’d expect an electric sports car to look. Despite this, the dashboard is as logically arranged as it ever is in a BMW.
- Quality – There’s no doubting the quality of the materials on show here, and the cabin is stuffed with nice textures, as well as lots of tech, too.
- Comfort – The seats are super comfortable. The driver sits down low and the dashboard wraps around them while switching to the Comfort driving mode and paying extra for the optional leather trims enhances comfort even more.
- Insulation – Sound insulation – which is helped by the low roofline – is excellent and the engine is as silent as a grave. The display on the dashboard turns to “Ready” but this is the only indicator that the car is even on.
- Space and practicality – The BMW i8 is not the most practical of cars. Rear seat space is poor, as is access, thanks to the doors that open outwards and upwards. It’s a big car that’s hard to park, and rear visibility is a further issue.
- Load Capacity – The boot measures 154-litres. Buyers can install a Louis Vuitton luggage set to increase space, but doing so means removing the rear seats altogether.
The BMW i8’s running costs are its biggest strength, and buyers won’t find a sports car anywhere else that’s as cheap as this to run.
- The BMW i8 has claimed returns of 134.5mpg economy, a figure unmatched elsewhere for a car of this type.
- The electric motor can keep going for 23 miles on a single charge at speeds of up to 75mph. This means you don’t need to bring the petrol into play all the time. However, these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt as they will vary according to the conditions.
- The hybrid battery takes up to 3 hours to fully charge. A cable is supplied.
- All models come with a regenerative braking system that uses wasted energy to top the battery up.
Need more information? Check out our full review of the BMW i8 here, including comparisons with its closest rivals.