Detailed Review of the BMW i8 Plug-in Hybrid Supercar

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When it comes to electric sports cars, the BMW i8 sets the bar. It’s sold more than 20,000 units since its production debut in 2014. It’s currently transitioning from being a BMW bestseller to a sports car classic. There won’t be any further production models of the i8, but BMW automakers have already hinted that a supercar version of the i8 will go on sale in 2024.

That makes the BMW i8 more valuable than ever. It’s not the fastest sports car. It travels from zero to 60mph in just under 5 seconds. However, the i8 does have a distinctive style and still sits in an exclusive circle as one of the most high tech plug-in electric vehicles on the market.

The BMW i8 is available as a coupe with a fixed top or an open-air, retractable top roadster. The coupe seats 4 passengers while the roadster is a 2-seater. The coupe has an estimated price of $147,500 while the roadster version is slightly higher at $163,300.

Style Points of the 2021 i8 from BMW

There are six color palettes available for the i8. Most of them are monochromatic with an accent of blue or frost. However, the E-Copper paint adds a hint of normalcy to the i8 with its rusty sheen. 

The BMW i8 has a unique, streamlined exterior. The body is composed of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic and aluminum. This reduces the i8’s weight for additional speed and rigidity in the chassis. The front of the i8 has a flattened and vented hood. The hood has a two-toned v pattern that stretches up over the windshield and top.

The profile shows off the low-riding sports car style with high rear fenders, 20-inch wheels and pronounced, sweeping lines. The doors go straight up in a scissor-like fashion. The sculpted rear of the vehicle has dual wind channels and u-shaped taillights.

Plug-in Hybrid Performance

The BMW i8 is capable of achieving 369 horsepower and the coupe can travel from zero to 60 MPH in 4.2 seconds. The roadster comes in just shy of that mark with a zero to 60 time of 4.4 seconds. It has a hybrid all-wheel drive system and automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

The BMW i8 has a powerful electric motor that propels the front wheels with 141 horsepower by itself. The i8 has a 1.5 Liter, twin turbo engine in the rear. The placement of the engine, motor and batteries gives the BMW i8 its exceptional balance.

The BMW i8 has three different driving modes. Put it in Sport for the best performance and Comfort for everyday cruising. There’s an ECO-PRO mode that favors the electric powertrain to deliver the most all-electric mileage.

There are several ways to keep a BMW i8 charged and ready to ride. It has regenerative braking. When you’re coasting or braking, the kinetic energy of the vehicle’s motion transfers electrical charge back into the batteries. You can also charge the i8 at home. Go from zero to fully charged in about 3 hours. When all of these systems are employed, the BMW i8 is capable of traveling 370 miles before needing to charge up again.

The BMW i8 has a double-wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension. It has dynamic traction, damper and stability control to keep the i8 in driver control at all times. Stopping power is provided by high performance, 13-inch disk brakes.

What’s Inside the 2021 BMW i8?

The interior of the BMW i8 sports car might be a bit unexpected in 2021. The layout of the dashboard and center console reveal the age of the i8 platform. It’s just a bit behind the times. However, there’s no discounting that this is a BMW. It has carbon-fiber inserts, heated front seats, and leather upholstery all around. You get a premium Harman Kardon sound system with 11 speakers and BMW concierge services.

The controls favor tactile buttons over touchscreen interfaces. There is a high-resolution display that sits high in the center of the dashboard. It’s only 8.8 inches though and might seem frustratingly small in comparison to other modern sports cars. It does come with BMW navigation, 3D maps, and a 20 GB hard drive. The i8 has impressive tech features, but once the industry caught up with it, the focus of automotive technology went in a different direction. Now, the i8 needs to be refreshed to keep up.

Safety Gear for the 2021 BMW i8

Another category that shows the age of the i8 platform is safety. The BMW i8 comes with a surround view camera, frontal collision warning, pedestrian protection, and city collision mitigation. That was impressive in 2019, but safety systems have vastly improved in the past three years.

You won’t find other advanced safety features on the i8 like lane departure warnings, parking assistance, and road sign detection. It has plug-in electric power but lacks the autonomous driving features of a Tesla or Jaguar. That doesn’t mean the i8 isn’t safe to drive. It has a full complement of airbags, impact sensors, and emergency assistance services.

What’s Next for the BMW i8?

The BMW i8 is at the end of its production life cycle and new models won’t be created. However, there is a new electric supercar coming in the near future from BMW. It will be an updated, high performance i8. The i8’s next generation performance boost will hit showroom floors by 2024.

The so-called BMW i8 M will have more horsepower, a better driving range, improved aerodynamics, better safety equipment, and most likely some style upgrades, as well. The 2024 i8 M will have a turbo-charged, four-cylinder gasoline engine to bolster the performance of its hybrid powertrain. Early projections suggest that the 2024 i8 will have 591 horsepower. That might be enough to make the BMW i8 a true supercar, after all.