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 is a hybrid sports car that combines a 129bhp electric motor driving the front wheels with a 228bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine driving the rears to produce a blend of supercar performance and family-car fuel economy.

Also in the mix is a battery pack located along the ‘spine’ of the car that, depending on which one of three performance modes the car is in, is recharged either by the petrol engine, the regenerative braking system or an external charging point, either in the street or at home.

The i8 sits at the top of BMW's range, so isn’t cheap – around £100,000 after the government's £5,000 plug-in car grant has been deducted. However, because it can run on electric power alone and emits just 49g/km CO2, it's exempt from both the London Congestion Charge and road tax.

The i8 has two rear seats, but they’re very cramped, meaning it's really only a two-seater. If you like advanced technology, potentially very low running costs and high performance, but need more space, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid could be worth considering.

Thanks to the i8's low weight of 1.5 tonnes (much of the car is made from carbon-fibre) and the combined power of the electric motor and petrol engine, it can sprint from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds – faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera.

When you aren’t racing other cars, the i8 can also sip petrol at a rate of 134mpg in Eco Pro – the most efficient of its three performance modes. But that's a best-case scenario that includes electric-only running for up to 23 miles – you can expect around 44mpg in normal driving. However, if your commute is no more than a few miles, you could conceivably do it for no more than cost of a daily charge.

The i8 is an agile car that's fun to drive, thanks to its light weight, direct steering and (when both the electric motor and petrol engine are working) four-wheel-drive set-up. Eco Pro and Comfort modes give you softer, more forgiving suspension, while Sport mode stiffens things up and makes for a sportier, 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.

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

4.3 / 5
based on 3 reviews
5 / 5
"The BMW i8 is a game-changer for the supercar sector. It has the style and the performance, but running costs set new benchmarks."
8 / 10
"This hybrid BMW looks amazing, is a great investment and represents a genuinely different and almost entirely successful way of building a fast, desirable car."
4 / 5
"The i8 is a superb achievement, then. It takes a huge amount of incredibly complicated technology and turns it into something desirable, easy to drive and easy to live with."
Last updated 
17 Aug 2015
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