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BMW i8 Test Drive Review

Date: 22 April 2015   |   Author:

Category: Sports
Key rival: Mercedes AMG GT
P11D: £104,485
On sale: Summer 2014

In every way, this is a car that can't be ignored. The looks alone mean it turns heads, but to combine that with a plug-in powertrain that gives the i8 running costs and monthly BIK payments to match modest family transport and it's a vehicle with significance beyond its modest supercar-orientated client base.

A figure of 49g/km, therefore eligible for the Government £5000 plug-in grant, for a car capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and then on to a limited 155mph is a sign of how far the industry has progressed in such a short period of time.

The hardware powering those figures is a combination of 231hp 1.5-litre petrol engine and 96kW electric motor adding another 131hp, the latter theoretically allowing up to 23 miles of EV-only running. We found that 15 miles or so is certainly achievable, and the i8 will easily return 40mpg on a motorway run, even without the aid of the battery, which is handy given the small 42-litre fuel tank. For comparison, a Porsche 911's is half as big again.

The i8 is, perhaps surprisingly given its looks, a very civilised way to travel. It's not a compromised and hardcore supercar; more a rapid grand tourer. It doesn't feel as big and intimidating as it could, and it's easy and comfortable to plod around town at lower speeds, enjoying the silent electric power.

There are five driving modes, including the sport function that recharges the battery from the internal combustion engine, as well as comfort and eco, and full electric or hybrid alternatives.

Practicality is, predictably, not the i8's strongest suit, although the rear seats are just about child-friendly. The boot area is tiny, at just 154 litres, well under that of the Fiat 500 city car, and while the dihedral doors that open upwards are a brilliant party trick, the wide door sill makes getting in and out something of a stretch for those with shorter legs.

But i8 owners will almost certainly have at least one other, more practical, car, and the demand for the model is obvious, with the UK becoming Europe's biggest market thanks to more than 450 registrations so far, and a nine-month waiting list for delivery.

It's fair to say it will be worth the wait. The i8 is as impressive underneath as it is on the outside, and that unique styling overlays a car that has a breadth of talents and strengths unmatched in the £100,000 arena.

BMW i8

Model price range                   £104,485
Residual value                             44.4%
Depreciat­ion                              £58,060
Fuel                                              £2289
Service, maintenance and repair £4423
Vehicle Excise Duty                            £0
National Insurance                       £3028
Cost per mile                                147.4p
Fuel consumption                    134.5mpg
CO2 (BIK band)                  49g/km  (5%)
BIK 20/40% per month             £87/£174
Warranty                          3yrs/unltd miles
Boot space (min/max)                154 litres
Engine size/power             1499cc/362hp


Stunning in terms of both styling and technology
  • Epically alluring
  • Fast
  • Clever
  • Efficient and head-turning
  • The i8 works on every level
  • Unsurprisingly it's not the most practical, and supercar performance comes with supercar price, even with the low emissions