Review

BMW i8 coupe

Price  £104,540

BMW i8 coupe

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Sleek styling
  • Cheap to run
  • Superb peformance
Cons
  • Very small boot
  • Expensive to buy
  • Near-useless rear seats

At a glance

The greenest
1.5 Hybrid 2dr £104,540
The cheapest
1.5 Hybrid 2dr £104,540
The fastest
1.5 Hybrid 2dr £104,540
Top of the range
1.5 Hybrid 2dr £104,540

"The BMW i8 represents the first in a new wave of sports cars that are not only quick and fun to drive, but also astonishingly cheap to run."

The BMW i8 coupe looks like it's arrived from another planet and its performance and economy figures read like something out of science fiction, too. It's among the first of a new wave of sports cars combining super-fast performance with the kind of fuel economy that brings a new meaning to the word frugal.

It's no surprise that the i8 looks so futuristic, because its shape has been honed to slip through the air as efficiently as possible. Everything about this car – even the way it looks – is all about high performance and fuel-saving.

For all the clever bits you can see, there's even more that you can’t. BMW has pioneered a new way of creating carbon fibre – the same lightweight material that Formula 1 cars are built from – and when used in conjunction with other light materials such as aluminium, this means the i8 weighs less than rival cars such as the Audi R8 and Jaguar F-type, despite its heavy batteries.

It's those batteries – and a pair of electric motors – that are at the heart of the BMW i8. They drive the front wheels and support the same 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine as you’ll find in a MINI hatchback. It produces significantly more power, of course.

In total, the BMW i8 puts out 357bhp – more than a Porsche 911 Carrera – which is enough to launch the i8 from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph.

The downside of the BMW's eye-catching styling is that there's only enough space for two full-sized adults in the front and two small kids in the back. Even so, the passengers that can fit will enjoy an interior styled as extrovertly as the exterior.

The i8's running costs leave most rivals in its wake. Although it costs nearly £100,000, it should be an exceptionally cheap to run. It's exempt from the London Congestion Charge and road tax is free thanks to CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. Plus, it's eligible for the government's £5,000 electric car grant.

But perhaps best of all is its claimed fuel consumption of 134.5mpg and its electric-only driving range of 22 miles. No car of this type, apart from the all-electric Tesla Model S and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, can compete with that.

It's worth noting that while the i8's batteries can be charged to around 80% in less than two hours, it depends on the type of charger you have access to.

Choosing your i8 is fairly straightforward. There's only one version, which features all the kit you’d expect from a £100,000 supercar. Highlights include LED headlights, cruise control, a fighter-jet-style head-up display, leather upholstery, a 20GB hard-drive stereo, sat nav and 20-inch alloy wheels.

MPG, running costs & CO2

5 / 5

Sports cars don't come much more economical than the BMW i8

Engines, drive & performance

4.5 / 5

The quick BMW i8 corners as a sports car should and is lots of fun to drive

Interior & comfort

2.5 / 5

The BMW i8 has a comfortable and stylish interior that’s just as striking as the exterior

Practicality & boot space

1.5 / 5

Rear seats are tight and the boot is small – but the BMW i8 has tailored luggage to make the most of the space

Reliability & safety

3.6 / 5

New technology hasn't been tried and tested, but the BMW i8 feels well put together

What the others say

4.5 / 5
based on 2 reviews
5 / 5
"The i8 is more of a precision tool than a tyre-smoking M model, and while a 911 may be sharper in bends, there's no better definition of a sports car for the modern world."
4 / 5
"On the Pacific Coast Highway the warbling, growling three-pot starts and gives relaxed cruising and a decent turn of speed, although standing starts tail off after an initial heady electric-motor rush and the i8 never feels quite as fast as the 4.4sec 0-62mph claim"

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