2015 BMW i8 Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat Is It?
The i8 is BMW’s high-performance plug-in hybrid sports car. This futuristic-looking coupe turns heads wherever it goes — as it should. The car doesn’t really have any direct competitors — the closest would be the Porsche 918 Spyder, but the Porsche offers considerably more performance for considerably more money. Our tester i8 has a base price of $136,500, but with the added Pure Impulse World package — featuring a larger-capacity fuel tank, blue seatbelts, head-up display, Harmon Kardon premium sound system, 20-inch wheels and a number of other amenities — the total sticker price comes in at $150,095.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat We Like
With its sleek silhouette, big wheels, narrow grille and crazy aerodynamic angles at the rear, the i8 looks more like a concept car than an actual production automobile. Anyone looking at the i8 knows it’s something special, even if they’re not into cars. And that’s before opening the doors, described by BMW as “scissor door design with lifting and turning function upward toward the front.” Unlike the McLaren 650S Spider, the doors don’t swing out much farther than standard car doors, so there’s less chance of getting trapped in your car in a tight parking space.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInterior
Although ingress and egress are a bit problematic, once inside the seats are quite comfortable — at least in front. The digital dashboard communicates how much power is being consumed — electric and total range — and which motors are being used. Change to sport mode and the gauges turn red as the gasoline engine comes to life. I-Drive is annoying as always, but the wide display screen makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience	Impressive Performance
It may be a hybrid, but the i8 is no Prius. The rear wheels are powered by a 228-horsepower 3-cylinder turbo engine, while the front wheels get motivation from a 129-horsepower electric motor. Combined output of 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque moves the AWD i8 to 60 mph in around 4 seconds — definitely enough power to push you back in your seat. The electric motor provides reasonable acceleration and, if you’re careful with the throttle, highway speeds are possible in electric-only mode. Put your foot down and the gas engine instantly starts with a roar — yes, BMW made the 3-cylinder engine sound fantastic.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFuel Efficient
In a mixture of city and freeway driving the i8 averaged 65 mpg. On a full charge we got about 16 miles on electric power only. Regenerative braking is efficient and brake feel is smooth and progressive, unlike the grabby regenerative brakes found all too often in hybrids. The electric motor returns about 5 miles/kWh — based on the current cost of electricity in the Seattle area, that equates to about 150 miles for the price of a gallon of gasoline.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHandling
The i8 may look like a one-off concept car, but it handles like a BMW should with light yet responsive steering. Even though two motors work in tandem, throttle response is predictable. High-speed cornering puts a smile on your face — the i8 stays flat and has excellent grip, due in part to the all-wheel-drive system.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat We Don’t Like
The i8 may be one of the most difficult vehicles to get in and out of. While the doors look very futuristic, they force eager occupants to duck under them to get in. Combine that with a high sill height and you have the unenviable experience of ducking and climbing at the same time. Testers commented several times about bumped heads during their time with the car.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
As with most sports coupes, the i8’s rear seats are not very comfortable and difficult to use as actual seats; however, they can be used in a pinch if absolutely necessary. Given the lack of cargo space in the trunk — there’s enough room for a small overnight or laptop bag — the rear seats would better serve as a cargo shelf.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStandout Feature
Granted, many features of the i8 make it stand out from the crowd, but the exhaust note surprised us most. We expected more silence — probably because we are so conditioned by the quiet gas engines of ordinary hybrids, which automakers purposefully tone down so they operate seamlessly with the electric motors. The i8 is no ordinary hybrid; when the gas engine kicks to life, the roar sounds like a powerful V8 — meaning heads turn, especially under full throttle.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9
There’s no question about the i8 being one of the most futuristic-looking cars on the road, and it has the powertrain to match. The strong electric motor and efficient gas engine provide a perfect mix of fuel efficiency for normal driving and great performance for a spirited romp on a twisty road. It may be low on storage space and difficult on ingress and egress, but we’d certainly overlook these issues given the opportunity to have one in our garage.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 BMW I8

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 BMW i8

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 BMW i8

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 BMW i8

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 BMW i8

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 BMW i8

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 BMW i8

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 BMW i8

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  1. Itbloo

    I noticed the speedometer has a top end of one sixty, fast enough for me. Guess I’ll do some Googling to find the 0-60 and 1/4 mile stats. Sixty-five mpg combined is a great incentive for you rich people to own one of these cool looking car.

  2. Baba M

    I like that you give both the pro’s and con’s of the cars – that makes for a very interesting article.


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