BMW i8 2014-2020 review

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The BMW i8 joins the i3 as part of the firm’s ‘i’ range of vehicles

The i8 costs £99,845 including the £5000 government grant

The flattening of BMW’s iconic kidney grille is pronounced in the i8

Dihedral doors provide visual impact when stationary

Visibility out of the i8 is decent but limited to the rear due to the small window

The 20-inch wheels quell “efficiency-reducing turbulence”

The doors are 50 per cent lighter than normal doors thanks to their aluminium, carbonfibre and thermoplastic construction

The BMW i8 joins the i3 as part of the firm’s ‘i’ range of vehicles

The i8 features a carbonfibre-reinforced plastic passenger cell

The CFRP structure is 50 per cent lighter than a steel equivalent

This scoop is a thermal aide to the electric motor’s operation

BMW quotes an official kerb weight of 1540kg for the i8

The grille is almost completely capped off as poart of the model’s drive towards a more slippery drag coefficient

BMW says the i8’s weight distribution is almost exactly 50 per cent front and 50 per cent rear

The all-LED headlights’ DRLs are in the i-brand U shape

Laserlights are set to be introduced as an option later this year, promising to dramatically increase the high-beam range

There’s a choice of designs; our car’s alloys were a £1150 option

The plant where the i8 is made is powered by hydroelectricity

As with all plug-in hybrids, the i8 gets two filler caps – one on the rear for fuel, one on the front for electricity

The i8 retains the futuristic look of the original concept car

These contoured side skirts ahead of the rear wheels, and the aeroflaps above, work to control the airflow around the back

The layering of the i8’s aerodynamics are most obvious at the rear

The BMW i8’s tail-lights blend into the aerodynamic channels

A drag coefficient of 0.26 is claimed

CO2 emissions are rated at 49g/km; official claimed economy is 134.5mpg

The i8 is a 2+2 and features an opening rear hatch that grants access to a load bay

The plug-in hybrid i8 features a conventional combustion engine as well as an electric motor

A 228bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine drives the rear axle, while a 129bhp electric motor powers the front axle

BMW claims the i8 can travel 23 miles on battery power alone

The BMW’s driving position is excellent, with fine front seats

The BMW’s seats are widely adjustable and supportive

The blue-piped steering wheel is pleasingly conventional

Fully digital instruments greet you. They change colour depending on the chassis mode

A six-speed automatic sends drive from the rear-mounted engine to the wheels

The controls are intuitively placed and shared with other BMW models

The BMW’s media system features bespoke screens that display efficiency and drive information

Different drive modes are offered

Dihedral doors get an electric release rather than a conventional handle but aren’t too heavy to push open

The i8’s cabin is beautifully finished but the materials used could be more interesting

As with rear seat space, boot capacity is broadly similar to that of the 911

The 1.5-litre triple is transversely mounted in the rear and drives the rear wheels

The turbocharged petrol engine produces 228bhp and 236lb ft; the front-mounted electric motor 129bhp and 184lb ft

The combined system output is stated to be 357bhp and 420lb ft

A flexible powertrain and stable chassis makes the i8 a fine GT

The battery charge depletes quickly on track and the limit handling isn’t totally sorted

It’s safe in the wet with the control aids on but can be quite lairy without them as it shuffles power around, though

Understeer is the order of the day; in the dry there’s insufficient power for anything else

The i8 has a 12.3m turning circle; the electrically assisted rack and pinion offers 2.3 turns lock to lock

The i8 would benefit from more natural on-limit handling responses

The driving position is straight and low, and the i8 has well-spaced pedals and an ample range of wheel adjustment

The i8 stops predictably and stably from speed

Compelling, alluring and, at times, entertaining. Almost all it needs to be.

Close by Matt Saunders 30 September 2014 Follow @TheDarkStormy1 Share

How we test cars

Its maker would have you believe that the new BMW i8 is the sports car of the future – and it’s a believable claim of a car that is daring, exotic and state of the art in just about every way you might judge it.

But the i8 also marks BMW’s return to a part of the market that it has flirted with in years gone by, and rather memorably so. The Z8 and M1 have a successor in this car – and they are some daunting acts to follow.

The BMW i8 can sprint from 0-60mph in 4.5sec and is electronically limited to 155mphMatt SaundersRoad test editor

There are parallels to be drawn between BMW’s M1 and the i8. The M1 is the only other mid-engined production machine in Munich’s history, and was on sale from 1978 to 1981. But neither the M1, nor the Z8, had a start in life quite like the i8’s. The i8 was conceived to redefine sports car conventions rather than abide by them.

The i8 began with the 2009 Vision EfficientDynamics concept, which reintroduced the idea of a mid-engined BMW flagship and drew power from two electric motors and a three-cylinder turbodiesel engine. That became the plug-in hybrid i8 concept at Frankfurt two years later, swapping the diesel for a petrol turbo.

Now, the production version has arrived. It is made from the lightest, strongest materials using the most advanced techniques that BMW could apply, and it’s driven by a revolutionary petrol-electric plug-in hybrid, all-wheel drive powertrain. This is Munich’s little miracle: a modern hypercar done for a fraction of the price. And it looks sensational.

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But does all of that technological sophistication deliver the type of drive that no class-leading sports car can be without? Or are there limitations to all of this cutting-edge complexity?

Related BMW i8 2014-2020 reviews

BMW i8 Coupe 2018 UK first driveBMW i8 UK first driveBMW i8 prototype first drive



The BMW i8 joins the i3 as part of the firm’s ‘i’ range of vehicles

Model tested: Rating: 9

BMW i8 2014-2020

GoodBrawny performanceEconomy and touring mannersUtterly distinctive stylingBadIntrusive stability controlUndersteer in handling mix

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