Review: BMW’s i8

PUBLISHED: 07:26 21 September 2014 | UPDATED: 07:26 21 September 2014

BMW i8

BMW i8

Archant

Get to 60mph in just over four seconds while marvelling at the eco-friendliness of this ultimate driving machine

Eco cars still have an image problem. Laudable though their low or zero CO2 emissions are, the cars 
rarely look exciting.

Cue the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid: Batmobile looks and 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds say it’s a supercar to be bracketed with the Porsche 911 and Audi A8.

Yet it’s also partly powered by electricity, so it’s more a blend of Green Lantern and The Flash, rather than Batman.

The other half of its hybrid partnership 
is the advanced UK-built three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, from the latest MINI.

The combination allows various modes for this futuristic car, one delivering a range of up to 15 miles on auto-electric power alone at up to 75mph, although the batteries won’t tolerate that maximum for long.

At the other extreme is manual selection Sport mode, delivering a responsive all-wheel drive supercar: the front wheels being driven by the 178bhp turbocharged petrol engine, the rear by the 141bhp electric motor.

And while the latter might seem the poor relation in horsepower, its ability to deliver virtually instantaneous thrust is the key 
to the i8’s appeal, even if it’s the throaty sound of the petrol unit that completes 
the sensory picture of driving a supercar.

It’s an impressive technical and investment feat from BMW; the German premium marque doesn’t habitually create supercars and is not even a giant carmaker; ranked 14th globally, it produces a fifth of the vehicles that world No1 Toyota does.

But BMW didn’t get where it is by simply playing the numbers game. It has stuck instead to its maxim ‘the ultimate driving machine’ and could claim that, in a world of eco angst and global warming, the i8 is another milestone on that road.

If you are well off, yet burdened by the guilt of desiring a gorgeous yet gas-guzzling supercar, the i8 could be the answer.

I particularly like the rear wheel housings and their scalloped, wind-cheating channels. The car’s relatively skinny eco car tyres are also cleverly concealed within big wheel arches and by a deep front apron, and are worn by ultra-dramatic alloys.

The 2+2-seat cabin is like a spaceship: lots of techno bling that works well too, comfy seats that you access via the most practical gull-wing doors yet seen, though the high sills make access to the tiny rear seats challenging.

The 154-litre boot is not the worst in 
the supercar class either, even if it falls short of the average city car.

Testing the car on the road, courtesy 
Broad Oak BMW of Canterbury and Ashford, shows surprisingly good ride and handling: the battery pack could have made it feel sluggish and wallow-y like most other hybrids, but ruthless weight shedding and hi-tech aluminium and carbon fibre construction means a flat cornering stance and composed ride to match serene progress, unless you mess with the throttle pedal and harness the awesome combined power of both motors.

Power corrupts? Indeed, but you needn’t feel so guilty about it in this eco supercar, and if you’re worried about the durability of those batteries, then BMW has an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on them. n

More from Motoring

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Morgan Plus Six is a glorious salute to the past, but it’s also the most technologically advanced car in the company’s 110-year history

Read more
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It turns out there’s a lot you can do in van business. We talk to those who have pushed the boundaries when it comes to working on the road.

Read more
Monday, March 16, 2020

Jet Wheel Tyre offers some invaluable advice on tyres and ensuring your car remains road worthy

Read more
Friday, March 6, 2020

Ray Chapman Motors officially unveiled their new York dealership, at York Business Park, Poppleton.

Read more
Friday, February 28, 2020

One of the best ways to experience the raw beauty of Surrey is by car: roof down, picnic hamper on the back seat, taking a leisurely drive through the undulating countryside. Here, drivers from The Supercar Event give us a run-down of the very best Surrey has to offer

Read more

A Ribble Valley company’s leather booster seats are ensuring young passengers can travel in luxurious style

Read more
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

It can be hard to imagine your little one growing up, but it won’t be long until they’re asking to borrow your car keys. Sue Waterfield from Young Driver, the UK’s largest driving school for 10–17-year-olds, explains how early driving tuition can set the foundations for a safer, more confident next generation.

Read more
Friday, January 24, 2020

In built-up places like Brighton, there is very little advantage to purchasing a brand new car. With so few uncongested roads in the south of England – and many other parts of the British Isles, for that matter – a brand new car won’t get you where you are going any faster. Nor will it be any easier to find a car parking space on the road you live on. However, second-hand cars are better in a number of ways. If you are considering buying a car in the near future, why would you opt for a used one rather than a model that has just rolled off the production line?

Read more
Monday, January 13, 2020

Lamborghini has opened a new showroom in Leeds bringing these lust-after motors to Yorkshire. Kathryn Armstrong joined them on a tour of the county’s finest routes.

Read more
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Millions of motorists are convicted of offences every year – but are they all guilty? An expert in motoring law has successfully defended many cases for clients who suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life