BMW i8 coupe
- Stunning design
- Amazing performance
- Limited luggage space
- Hefty price tag
- Not tested by Euro NCAP
At a glance
"The groundbreaking BMW i8 runs with the fuel economy of a family car, but drives like a supercar."
The BMW i8 represents a new era in hybrid cars. Its superb combination of a 129bhp electric motor with a 228bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine can take the car from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds – quicker than a Bentley Continental V8 Coupe.
With the electric engine powering the front wheels, the petrol engine sending power to the rear wheels and a battery pack sitting in the middle of the car's ‘spine’, the i8 always feels planted, weighing in at a reasonable 1.5 tonnes.
Weight could have been shed, however, if BMW chose to exclude the rear seats altogether, given that they are useless for anything bigger than a bag. This begs the question of whether the German manufacturer should have better used this space to provide a bigger boot.
Meanwhile, the battery pack can be charged via the petrol engine, the car's regenerative braking system and also an external charging point, depending on the various performance modes.
If you like the thought of being an environmentally-friendly parent by day and racer by night – with actually enough space for the children in the back seats – it may be worth looking at the Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid.
And if you happen to like the Panamera's rather divisive looks, you’ll be happy to know that it's cheaper to buy than the i8, which costs more than £100,000 from new. Even with exemption from road tax and London's Congestion Charge, that's still too costly for a lot of the car's target market.
In terms of efficiency, the six-speed automatic i8 produces emissions of 49g/km per kilometre emissions with extraordinary 134.5mpg fuel consumption in Eco Pro mode. However, depending on your driving style, you can expect to reach around 45mpg on a day-to-day basis. The car takes up to three hours to charge from a conventional 240-volt household socket, and has a pure-electric driving range of 23 miles.
Beyond its hybrid technology, the i8's party trick is its gull-wing doors – of course these may not be practical in the supermarket car park. Inside, it's well equipped and the space-age-looking cabin is testament to how far the i8 has taken the hybrid sports car.
The car's long warranty for the batteries and self-diagnosing systems should relieve concerns over long-term reliability given all the new technology on board. One thing to note is that the i8 hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP – and is unlikely to go through the safety checks due its expense and relative rarity. Rest assured, though, BMW's construction is reliable even if the i8 is electrifying to drive.
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