2016 BMW i8

10 Sep 2016 BMW i8

Is the BMW i8 the Ultimate Green Driving Machine?

The BMW i8 surely isn’t your normal BMW. I mean, if I think of BMW, I think of the 3 series, the inline six engine, or the screaming S65 V10 engine that was put in the 5-series back in 2005. I think of an emotional driving experience. But with the changing times and stricter government regulations, BMW had to find an alternative to all of that. BMW i is their answer. At least for now.

The BMW i8 is the top of the line model that comes of the i department next to the smaller, all electric BMW i3. The difference with the i8 is, that it is performance oriented, and not fully electric. The BMW i8 is a hybrid in fact. BMW combined a 1.5 liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 231 HP, with a 131 HP electric motor. The electric motor is mounted on the front axle, giving the car 4WD. The combined power output of the BMW i8 is 362 HP and 420 lb-ft of torque. All that allows the 3,300 lbs car to accelerate to 60 mph in around 4.4 seconds. These are numbers we used to so from the M Gmbh cars, and not from green, ecofriendly hybrids.

However, M cars are known to sound a bit better than hybrids, and that’s still the case here. While the car doesn’t sound like much on the outside, in the interior with the car set to its SPORT or SPORT+ mode, the i8 sounds as good as any modern turbo-charged BMW M car. It sounds like a spaceship mixed with the beautiful sounds of a V10 engine. The downshifts especially sound very aggressive, and makes it even harder to convince your passenger that they are driving in an ecofriendly hybrid.

When you take the first turns in a bit of a quicker fashion, you notice that the handling is also nothing like the handling you would expect fro a hybrid. The i8 actually handles very well thanks to its low center of gravity. You will be amazed by how good this car gets around a turn, even it has rather thin tires for less drag. However, we had the optional sport tires fitted, which are a bit wider and give you more grip. Something I definitely recommend in a hybrid sports car.

The interior is typical BMW, but with a very futuristic influence. Meaning, if you’re familiar with BMW, the interior won’t confuse you at all, while looking completely updated and out of this world. I think BMW did an excellent job there, even though I wish there was more updates, to make the experience in this car even more special.

One thing that bothered me was the small battery pack. The BMW i8 only has a 5 kWh battery, which is good for 22 full electric miles and speeds up to 75 mph. However, when that battery is empty, and you go into the SPORTs mode because you want some performance out of the car, you are stuck to 231 hp until you drive normally again and the engine can charge the battery, or until you plug it in at home.

Overall, I think the BMW i8 is a good step in the right direction for BMW, but it's not quite there yet.



I had driven the Tesla multiple times before this test, and that makes me think less of the i8. It just doesn’t feel as modern, as futuristic as the Tesla does. Besides, the Tesla is available with a 100 kWh battery back, which is 20x more capacity than the battery of the BMW i8. Nevertheless, I am happy that BMW is trying to connect a good, engaging driving experience with tomorrow’s emission standards. I definitely wouldn’t take a Tesla into the Canyons, while the BMW i8 would still be still an excellent choice for that.

Article by Kai Groschupf

Autobahn High Speed in the BMW i8