BMW i8 long-term test review: final report

When the i8 came to me with barely over delivery miles on the clock last spring, I wrote a long list of questions, it would be necessary to address before he headed back to BMW.

Nearly a year and 15,000 miles later, the answers are in, and could hardly be more clear.

Some were simple: the fact of having a hybrid hard drive actually result in a better fuel consumption than you might expect in competitors ‘ products? After 11 months, an average of more than 40mpg where I expect the class average is below 30mpg, it is not a question. The best and the worst of the i8, at the same time to come while others on the motor Coach of the team have been using it for a driver to come within a whisker of 50mpg, another achievement of 18.3 mpg.

Another issue was of conceptual nature: the i8 handle this as the original M1 and Z8 had failed to achieve and be a BMW that was sitting comfortably and credibly in what is today the market above£ 100,000? Here, the answer is more nuanced. If you look at the depreciation of the car has suffered, it is clear that the market is still not convinced by the idea of a six-figure hybrid from BMW, especially one powered by a three-cylinder Mini engine, however, clever with his tech and however attractive its carbon fiber and aluminum.

But if you ask me if it felt like a £100k car, I would say that, with the sole exception of the interior, with too little of particular attention and too found in the generic parts bin, he has done it, with room to spare. Not once did I feel injured by the motor: I liked its noise and do not understand those who whine on its being synthesized. The sound of each mainstream of the car today has been artificially modified in one form or another and, therefore, of synthesis. The i8 looks awesome. Its performance is good enough, simply, to live in the £100k-world. On paper, it seems that moderately fast, but the bare figures conceal the immediacy of the response provided by the hybrid propulsion system and the total lack of turbo lag. The way it delivers its torque means that even a transmission with only six speeds seems to be no more or less than what is required.

But perhaps the question that took the longest to answer was just what kind of car it was. Superficially, it seems easy: it is aiming at the same space as the Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type R and the Audi R8 but arriving from a different direction, thanks to its very innovative powertrain and construction. And I think most would buy this explanation. But I don’t see it like that at all.

The most relevant of the Panamera, of course, is the E-Hybrid. Apologies for not having a photo of him next to the i8, but I was on another continent, when I drove it. It uses a 3.0-litre turbo V6 petrol engine boosted by the electricity and offers a 30-mile electric range. It is much more affordable than the BMW, the Porsche, having reduced its price, so, curiously, it is now nearly £10k cheaper than the less powerful, non-hybrid gasoline-4S using the same engine. But even if the costs of one-half, i8 of the pint-size powertrain is in a different league to the Porsche motor.

Porsche says that this is a car bought more in the head than the heart, and for a certain type of user, the operating costs are convincing. But the i8 has both bases covered (although for a different client) and, hypercars aside, it remains the only hybrid to do so.

Price £104,540 Price as tested £108,615 Economy 43.2 mpg Faults None Expenses None


Why it can beat a Porsche 911

Recently, I met a man who actually owned a BMW i8.

Spent his own money on it – or at least of his company. Broke a Porsche 911 usually measurable in decades to do so. Did he buy it for its looks, its CO2 emissions, or the carbon fiber construction? Had he hell. He bought it because, as a taxable company benefit, he said he has saved thousands compared to her last car, a 911 Turbo. Is it not miss the extra punch of the Turbo? Not the least of the world. What about that flat six howl? No, once again. But surely, he missed his grip, agility and intimacy of the Porsche driving experience? Three times not.

The truth is, he bought the car, because, over the three years that he has, its total cost has made it a damned sight cheaper for him than anything else that kind of money can buy. But that is not why he loves her. He loves it because he feels good about driving.

No, this is not what you would call a dive assessment based on the forensic analysis of the facts, but that does not make it a judgment less valid. You don’t need to be a grizzled road tester to assess a car’s look, or get pleasure of this little bit of theatre every time a door flips open and sit in these great seats with the perfect driving position. His ability to make each trip an opportunity to distinguish the i8 from others, even cars, I’d rather ride fast as the 911.

In fact, I like driving the i8 slowly, taking the children to school, knowing that I am going to get there and back while using no fuel. Saddo that I am, I took to photographing the trip computer, because most of the numbers are displayed to this apparent contradiction with a high-performance coupe.

So I asked the guy from the acid question. In three years, will there be a trade in the i8 to another? “There will be a new 911 by then, so I’ll wait to see what this is. But if I had to decide now, I would in an instant.”


Price £104,540 Price as tested £108,615 Economy 43.0 mpg Faults None Expenses None

Read our previous reports here

Read our previous reports:

First report

Voyage of discovery

Supercar to zero-emissions

The Coach of the team, thoughts

600-mile road trip