BMW i8 (2014) Review

BMW i8 (2014) At A Glance

5/5

+Redefines hybrid performance. Great sound from little 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine. Mighty through corners with effortlessly smooth acceleration. An absolute joy to drive.

-Tiny boot unless rear seats are used for luggage. Discontinued from April 2020.

New prices start from £110,080
Insurance Group 50
On average it achieves 38% of the official MPG figure

The BMW i8 marks a revolution. Not just for hybrid cars but for sports cars in general. The technology may be incredibly advanced but the principle is really very simple. A small 1.5-litre engine, borrowed from the MINI, powers the rear wheels while an electric motor drives the front wheels. In between are the lithium ion batteries which means a low centre of gravity and perfect weight distribution.

The result? A phenomenally good sports car that sets new rules for how performance should be delivered and how a driver's car can feel. Forget the fact this is a plug-in hybrid, instead just appreciate the BMW i8 for what it is. One of the best cars on the road today, regardless of how it's powered.

Of course the styling certainly adds to the appeal. The i8 looks like a concept that's just been driven off a motorshow stand. It wouldn't feel out of place in a futuristic Hollywood blockbuster. If you want a car that gets noticed, even on the streets of central London that are awash with McLarens and Aston Martins, the i8 is it.

The low nose and menacing headlights flow into a fairly conventional coupe design but it's at the back where this BMW stands out. The roof panels flow down to create a floating spoiler over the rear lights. It's a car you could stand and admire for a very long time.

There are other flourishes too, such as the dihedral 'butterfly' opening doors which add to the feeling that this is a very special car. As you'd expect, carbon fibre plays a big part in the construction, from the doors to the roof and even the bodyshell, which means a kerb weight of just 1490kg - that's not much more than a Ford Focus TDCi.

This light weight means storming performance. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 4.4 seconds - that's Porsche 911 Carrera S territory - helped by a total of 362PS and, more crucially, a huge 570Nm of torque.

Of course the i8 isn't merely about performance. As it's a plug-in hybrid it's also incredibly efficient. According to the official figures CO2 is just 49g/km, which means you can drive into central London for free, while average economy is a claimed 135mpg - although these figures are always skewed by plug-in hybrids. More useful is the range. With a full tank and a fully charged battery the i8 can cover around 310 miles.

And don't think that because this is a hybrid it's going to be anodyne or quiet. The i8 is enthralling to drive and a real joy, plus you can forget any ideas that it doesn't sound the part either. BMW has somehow managed to make that little 1.5-litre engine sound like a flat six with a gorgeous noise from both inside the cabin and out. It may be expensive, but for the lucky few who get their hands on one, the i8 is a tour de force.

Real MPG average for a BMW i8 (2014)

RealMPG

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

38%

Real MPG

44–60 mpg

MPGs submitted

27

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

Satisfaction Index

Satisfaction Index What is your car like to live with?

We need your help with our latest Satisfaction Index, so that we can help others make a smarter car buying decision. What's it like to live with your car? Love it? Loath it? We want to know. Let us know about your car - it will only take a few minutes and you could be helping thousands of others.

Help us with the Honest John Satisfaction Index now

Ask Honest John

Is the BMW i8 set to become a modern classic or a depreciating misfit?
"I'm quite keen on purchasing an early BMW i8 now that values seem to have plummeted to affordable used levels. But with BMW discontinuing this car in April 2020, are used values likely to strengthen (or increase), or might they continue dropping into obscurity? "
Go drive one and see how it makes you feel. If you like it - and if you can afford it - then buy it. The i8 is a genuinely good car and one we can see becoming a future a classic - but who knows what might happen. When a car goes off sale, it's depreciation journey normally continues - but with its M1-inspired looks, high price tag, and limited production numbers then the chances are values could stabilise and start to pick up. Like any asset, you'll need to look after it so budget accordingly. And this technology is still relatively new, so be prepared for some head-scratching electro-mechanical issues that need solving.
Answered by Keith Moody

What does a BMW i8 (2014) cost?