When engineers realized that hybrid power could be used to build sports cars, the automotive world changed forever. I consider myself fortunate to have driven all three hypercars. The Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1, and the LaFerrari are examples of unbridled enthusiasm and no limits to power or price. BMW could have followed suit and built a million-dollar monster, but they chose another path.
The BMW i8 is a low and sleek carbon fiber coupe. You and your passenger sit between and below the wide door sills. Getting in and out is not unlike a C4 Corvette, it requires grace and effort. The cockpit looks straight out of the future. Pull the door down and strap in for a comfy ride. Visibility is better than most, and the controls are very intuitive.Shift into drive and you are ready for silent running. A fully charged battery offers 15 miles of cruising before gas is needed.
If you want to get spicy, a turbocharged three-cylinder engine and the battery can deliver 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. It might not seem comparable to others until you consider its weight. The engine and generator are not much bigger than a briefcase. It may only be 1.5 liters, but it is accompanied by a six-speed automatic transmission. The real advancement is that the electric motor has its own two-speed transmission. It can power the front wheels directly, or along with the electric unit on the rear.
We had a week to spend with the i8 and it never failed to disappoint. It has a curb weight of 3,400 lbs along with adequate cargo space. Weight distribution is perfect, and the 20″ iLight forged wheels offer grip and a smooth ride. The suspension is not overly sprung which makes it easy to weave through traffic and rotate in tight corners. The only deal-breaker is the fake engine sounds coming from the Harmon/Kardon audio. Any three-cylinder engine is going to sound offensive, so BMW thinks we need entertainment from the speakers.
Aside from that, this car is built to last. It has steel 13″ brakes, included maintenance, and 8-year warranty on the high-voltage system. Everything about the car feels solid, and it inspires confidence on your daily commute. It is rated at 76 MPG if you plug it in at night, all for a price of $162,995. You can have all the technology of the hypercars without a hyper price. Oh, and the laser headlights are worth every annoyance. Check out the listings from our dealers below and experience it for yourself.