BMW i8 coupe
- Sleek styling
- Cheap to run
- Superb peformance
- Very small boot
- Expensive to buy
- Near-useless rear seats
At a glance
"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 is a hybrid sports car with a space-age design and an equally clever powertrain. It combines a 129bhp electric motor driving the front wheels with a 228bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine driving the rear wheels to produce supercar performance and family-car fuel economy.
The battery pack is located along the ‘spine’ of the car to keep the weight towards the middle. The pack means can be charged by the petrol engine, regenerative braking system or an external charging point, depending which performance mode the car is in.
The i8 sits at the top of BMW's range, so it's not cheap. A price tag of around £100,000 after the government's £5,000 plug-in car grant has been deducted will be prohibitive to most, but it can run on electric power alone and emits just 49g/km of CO2, making it exempt from road tax and London's Congestion Charge.
The i8 has two rear seats, but they are nigh-on useless for anything else other than a bag. If you like the i8's formula but need more space, the Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid could be worth considering.
The i8's low weight of 1.5-tonnes and the combined power means that it can sprint from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds – that's faster than a Bentley Continental V8 Coupe.
When you aren’t drag racing other supercars, the i8's impressive fuel economy is rated at 134mpg in Eco Pro mode. That is best-case scenario, though; you can expect to do around 45mpg in normal driving conditions. If your commute is no more than a few miles, you could conceivably do it for no more than the cost of a daily charge.
The i8's light construction means it's a great car to drive, too. Direct steering and four-wheel-drive (when both the electric motor and petrol engine are working) means the i8 always feels planted. Eco Pro and Comfort modes are provide a more forgiving suspension setup, while the Sport mode stiffens things up for a more focused experience.
It already looks pretty amazing, but the i8 has a further trick up its sleeve: two dihedral doors that open upwards to reveal a space-age cabin that's very well equipped – as you’d expect from a car costing over £100,000.
The i8 features lots of advanced technology, so predicting its long-term reliability is tough. However, the batteries are at least covered by a long warranty and the car features lots of self-diagnosing systems that can alert you and your dealer to any looming problems. It hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, but bristles with safety technology and should hold up well in a crash.
Sports cars don't come much more economical than the BMW i8
The quick BMW i8 corners as a sports car should and is lots of fun to drive
The BMW i8 has a comfortable and stylish interior that’s just as striking as the exterior
Rear seats are tight and the boot is small – but the BMW i8 has tailored luggage to make the most of the space
New technology hasn't been tried and tested, but the BMW i8 feels well put together