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 new kind of sports car promising the economy of a family car and the performance of a supercar. Its futuristic looks alone tell you it's something out of the ordinary, while the ‘i’ in its name indicates BMW's new generation of electric cars – the other model in the range being the i3.
The i8 has three power sources: a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine from a MINI hatchback powering the rear wheels, and two electric motors driving the fronts. That sounds quite modest, but together they produce a very impressive 357bhp – more than a Porsche 911 Carrera. It's that figure, plus the i8's pulling power, that means it can out-sprint the Porsche from 0-62mph.
Another factor that contributes to the i8's astonishing performance is its low weight – at least for a hybrid car loaded with batteries. To achieve this, the i8 is built from carbon-fibre and aluminium, and, remarkably, weighs less than an Audi R8 or Jaguar F-Type.
The i8's batteries are key to its split personality, because while they help boost the power of the small petrol engine, they also contribute to its tax-free CO2 emissions (49g/km) and superb claimed fuel economy of 134.5mpg (in reality, closer to 40mpg). Not only that, but they also enable the i8 to travel for up to 22 miles on electric power alone.
The batteries are recharged as the i8 travels along or by plugging it into a charger. Depending on the type of charger you have, this process can take as little as two hours. This plug-in hybrid capability means the i8 qualifies for the government's £5,000 electric car grant, for a useful saving on its £100,000 list price.
While BMW's other electric hybrid, the i3, is a roomy four-seater car, the i8 is a two-plus-two, which means that there's really only room for two adults in the front and a couple of children in the rear seats. And thanks to its two upward-opening doors, getting in and out of the i8 is not only simple, it makes for a good piece of theatre, too.
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