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- Highs Cutting-edge design, a supercar with a green streak, surprisingly comfortable front seats.
- Lows Not as quick as its looks suggest, too many budget-minded plastics in the cabin, expensive.
- Verdict The BMW i8 stands out from other high-end sports cars, just don’t expect to beat them when the traffic light turns green.
The BMW i8 isn’t the fastest supercar by any means, nor is it the greenest choice for anyone who wants long-distance EV range. But when it comes to head-turning design this BMW plug-in hybrid is tough to beat. The curvaceous bodywork and upward-swinging doors add lots of visual drama to the i8, even if its 357-hp powertrain doesn’t deliver the neck-straining acceleration its exotic looks suggest.
What’s New for 2018?
Having been first introduced for the 2014 model year, the 2018 BMW i8 continues with only cosmetic changes and minor trim tweaks.
EV Motor, Power, and Performance
The powertrain in the i8 doesn’t lack for creativity or innovative engineering. A turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine positioned behind the cabin is coupled to two electric motors and a 7.1-kWh battery pack. Power is fed to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic coupled to the gasoline three-cylinder, while a two-speed automatic works with the electric motors. Depending on your driving preferences, the i8 will cruise sedately for up to 18 miles in electric-only drive mode or turn much feistier in driver-selectable performance modes. It’s certainly quick, and the steering is agile when getting a move on. The suspension also does a good job keeping the i8 planted to the road without bouncing and crashing over imperfect pavement. But other available high-performance sports cars are just as agile—and much faster.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
You expect the cabin of the i8 to deliver something special, a design that’s revolutionary in its approach—or at least filled with high quality materials, considering the car’s steep price tag. Unfortunately, the interior has far too many mid-grade plastic parts and is very conventional, even a tad dull. There are reasonable amounts of headroom and legroom for those seated up front, though the minuscule rear seats are a joke. You’d struggle to squeeze a medium-size duffle bag into one of them, much less a human being. Cargo space is also limited, even for a mid-engine sports car.
Infotainment and Connectivity
In the center of the dashboard you’ll spot an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with BMW’s familiar iDrive controller mounted between the front seats. This is a functional system; the menus are clear and the graphics are crisp. Granted, it’s all borrowed from more run-of-the-mill (i.e. much less expensive) BMW vehicles, but it gets the job done. Standard equipment includes Apple CarPlay, but Android Auto is not available.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.