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Top Features of Base Model
- Roadster version offers open-top motoring
- Slightly bigger battery for 3 miles more range
- Laser headlights simply the best you can buy
- Still makes onlookers drool or faint
BMW i8: Everything You Need to Know
About the i8:
The 2019 BMW i8 sport coupe remains a stunning, jaw-dropping way to attract attention when you open its bird-wing doors, just as it was on launch in 2014. The fact that it’s a plug-in hybrid is secondary, if not almost entirely irrelevant.
The $150,000 i8 is sold in tiny number and has changed very little over six years. A slightly larger battery and the addition of a soft-top Roadster version are the only notable changes since its debut.
Despite its high-tech spec, the BMW i8 isn’t as fast as out-and-out performance cars from the likes of Porsche or Ferrari. Nor is it particularly fuel-efficient, despite its hybrid powertrain. It serves mostly as a technology demonstrator for BMW. Not to mention an incredibly sexy way for two people to travel.
What’s New in the Current 2019 BMW i8?
For 2019, the BMW i8 returns after a one-year hiatus with a slightly bigger battery and an added body style. The powertrain specs for both body styles are the same:
- Turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, rated at 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, located behind the seats
- Six-speed automatic transmission delivering engine power to rear wheels
- 11.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery located in tunnel between seats
- 105-kilowatt (141-horsepower) electric motor powers front wheels, rated at 184 pound-feet of torque
- Combined output of the two systems together is 369 horsepower
- In Hybrid mode, the BMW i8 is rated at 27 mpg combined. If anyone cares.
The new Roadster version eliminates the coupe’s remarkable bird-wing doors, but it’s for a good cause: open-air motoring.
What Does the 2019 BMW i8 Compete With?
Among the wealthy drivers, mostly men, who buy six-figure sports cars, the BMW i8 has no exact competitors. But buyers likely consider:
The i8 isn’t as fast as the Porsche 911 or any of its low-volume competitors. Nor is it as comfortable or capable as four-seat luxury touring coupes from Bentley or BMW. It’s certainly different from the big, sleek, Tesla Model S battery-electric sedan that built that company’s reputation. In some ways, the i8 remains in a class of its own.
Exterior Design of the 2019 BMW i8
It’s the looks that sell the BMW i8. While it has the general shape of a mid-engine sport coupe, numerous details really set it apart. They include blue accents along the edges of some panels, and the bird-wing doors that hinge forward and up along the windshield pillars. LED lights are standard.
Then there’s the truly unusual sculpting of the tapered rear bodywork. Along the sides of the glass rear hatch are long, narrow “wings” that almost cover a deep tunnel channeled into the tops of the rear fenders. Each taillight has a little wing over it to continue the line. Viewed at the correct angle from the rear, you can sight down the tunnel and along the side of the car.
The car is so distinct, in fact, that it could probably run on coal dust and ground-up baby seals without losing any allure. If anything, it underscores that technically sophisticated and electric cars can look just as desirable as any other kind.
Interior Style in the 2019 BMW i8
Getting in and out of the BMW i8 takes practice. The sills are wide, the seats are extremely low to the floor, and closing the bird-wing door overhead once you’re in requires a long reach. While the coupe is nominally a four-seater, forget that. Two people is the most you’ll fit, though carry-on size bags fit in the rear. The Roadster has only two seats.
The seats are snug but supportive, and the dash is far less out-there in design than the exterior. BMW owners will find it easy and predictable to navigate.
Interior materials and finishes match those of other high-end BMWs. They’re more traditionally luxurious than the cool Scandinavian modern décor of the little BMW i3 hatchback electric car. Cargo space, at 5 cubic feet, is minimal. So is interior storage.
What Technology Comes in the 2019 BMW i8?
The BMW i8 may be among the most advanced cars BMW has built. That applies as much to its construction as to features drivers and passengers will notice. The “through-the-road” hybrid system adds weight and complexity, but it’s offset by a lightweight carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body on an aluminum chassis. The mobile-phone app to monitor the car and control some functions is as robust as any.
But the i8 is now six years old, and technology advances have since proven that you don’t need the complexity of a plug-in hybrid or esoteric materials to produce a cutting-edge electric car. If the BMW i8 were designed today, it might well be a high-performance battery-electric car with 300 or more miles of range. In that sense, the i8’s technology feels no longer cutting-edge.
What Kind of Safety Features are in the 2019 BMW i8?
Given its low volume and very high price, it’s not surprising that neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested a BMW i8. The closest parallel is its mass-market sibling, the BMW i3, which uses a similar carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body shell on an aluminum rolling chassis that holds the running gear.
Automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning are standard features on the i8. We definitely recommend the amazing laser headlights, which produce a nighttime view that looks as close to daylight as we could imagine. If you can afford a BMW i8, you can likely afford the stunning $6,300 they cost.
What is the 2019 BMW i8 Like to drive?
Behind the wheel, the BMW i8 has a different personality for each of its three drive modes. The all-electric Max e-Mode powers the front wheels on battery energy only for up to 18 miles. It’s quick, quiet, and smooth, though flooring the accelerator past a resistance point switches on the engine for more power if needed in an emergency.
In Normal mode, the BMW i8 is a hybrid, with the engine and motor alternating or combining as needed. The frisky Sport mode keeps both systems engaged at all times for maximum all-wheel drive performance.
Visibility out the front is very good, but there’s almost none out the rear. That’s acceptable when tossing the car around twisty roads, where Sport mode’s all-wheel drive keeps it hanging on tenaciously. Our only complaint: power delivery could be variable as the car’s control software modulated between the electric motor up front and the engine at the rear, especially as its turbo spooled up and power arrived suddenly. The lack of rear vision is less fun in town.
Should I Buy a Current 2019 BMW i8?
Even in the rarified world of six-figure cars, the BMW i8 is a specialized taste. For those wealthy enough to consider one, it’s possible the combination of unusual design, stunning looks, and perhaps the advanced tech will make it an obvious choice. The rest of us aren’t in that world.
Should I buy a Used 2019 BMW i8? Are There Any I Should Avoid?
So few BMW i8s have been sold, an average of 1,000 a year, that finding a used one at all may require some effort. The convertible didn’t launch until 2019, so used soft-tops will be scarce indeed. The most likely models are the 2014-2017 coupes. (BMW skipped 2018 altogether for the i8.) Aside from mileage, paint color, and interior trim, they’re all pretty much equivalent.
How Much Does the New 2019 BMW i8 Cost?
The list price of a 2019 BMW i8 coupe is a staggering $147,500. The i8 Roadster goes for $163,300. Options are minimal. Two appearance packages, Tera World and Tera World Copper, give specific colors to the interior and the brake calipers. They’ll add $2,500 to the coupe, or $3,700 to the Roadster. The superb laser headlights cost $6,300. A mandatory destination charge of $995 is added to every car.
Is that value for money? Some might not say so for a car with a three-cylinder engine and only 18 miles of electric range. Those who love its unique combination of attributes will differ.
Pros and Cons of the 2020 BMW i8
- Stunning, sexy bird-wing doors
- So low-volume, many will never have seen one
- Silent electric mode for cities
- Pleasantly raucous performance mode
- Not a fuel-efficient coupe, nor a performance car: what is it?
- Roadster version costs breathtaking $16,000 more
- Coupe rear seats are a joke
- Power delivery may be inconsistent
The History of the BMW i8: Six Years of i8
The BMW i8 has changed little since it launched as a 2014 model. Aside from a few trim and specification tweaks, only two major changes matter. Both arrived for the 2019 model year.
The first was an increase in battery capacity from 7.1 to 11.6 kilowatt-hours. That raised the i8’s EPA-rated electric range from 15 to 18 miles. The second was the debut of the i8 Roadster model, which sacrifices the distinctive bird-wing doors for the pleasures of open-air motoring.
Specs & Key Features of the 2020 BMW i8
- Body Style
- 1.5L DOHC Turbo 3-Cylinder
- 369 hp
- 6-Speed Automatic
- Passenger Doors
- Passenger Seating
- All Wheel Drive
- City MPG
- Hwy MPG
- Air Conditioning
- Apple CarPlay
- Back Up Camera
- Blind Spot Sensor
- Cruise Control
- Heated Seats
- LCD Monitor
- LED Lights
- Lane Departure Warning
- Leather Steering Wheel
- Remote Keyless Entry
- Tinted Glass
- Engine: 1.5L DOHC Turbo 3-Cylinder
- Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
- Engine Auto Stop-Start Feature
- Transmission w/Driver Selectable Mode and Sequential Shift Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
- Part-Time All-Wheel Drive
- 3.68 Axle Ratio
- Hybrid Electric Motor
- Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
- Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
- Automatic w/Driver Control Ride Control Adaptive Suspension
- Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering
- 11.1 Gal. Fuel Tank
- Single Stainless Steel Exhaust
- Double Wishbone Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
- Multi-Link Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
- Regenerative 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front And Rear Vented Discs, Brake Assist, Hill Hold Control and Electric Parking Brake
- Lithium Ion Traction Battery w/3.7 kW Onboard Charger and 3 Hrs Charge Time @ 220/240V
- Wheels: 20" x 7.5" Fr & 20" x 8.5" Rr Bi-Color -inc: Style 516, BMWi light alloy radial-spoke
- Tires: 215/45 R20 Front & 245/40 R20 Rear Mixed
- Spare Tire Mobility Kit
- Metallic Paint
- Body-Colored Front Bumper w/Black Rub Strip/Fascia Accent
- Body-Colored Rear Bumper w/Black Rub Strip/Fascia Accent and Colored Bumper Insert
- Colored Bodyside Insert
- Black Side Windows Trim
- Black Power Heated Side Mirrors w/Driver Auto Dimming, Power Folding and Turn Signal Indicator
- Fixed Rear Window w/Defroster
- Light Tinted Glass
- Speed Sensitive Rain Detecting Variable Intermittent Wipers w/Heated Jets
- Composite/Aluminum Panels
- Black Grille w/Metal-Look Surround
- Trunk Rear Cargo Access
- Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
- Fully Automatic Projector Beam Led Low/High Beam Auto-Leveling Auto High-Beam Daytime Running Lights Preference Setting Headlamps w/Delay-Off
- Perimeter/Approach Lights
- LED Brakelights
- Radio: Multicast FM Stereo -inc: Apple CarPlay Compatibility, 1 year trial
- Radio w/Seek-Scan, MP3 Player, Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control, Aux Audio Input Jack, Steering Wheel Controls, Voice Activation, Radio Data System, External Memory Control and 20 Gb Gracenote Internal Memory
- 12 Speakers
- 360w Regular Amplifier
- Automatic Equalizer
- Audio Theft Deterrent
- Digital Signal Processor
- Window Grid Diversity Antenna
- Radio Control US
- HD Radio
- SiriusXM Sat. Radio w/1 Yr All Access Subscription
- harman/kardon Premium Sound System
- Enhanced USB & Bluetooth w/Smartphone Integration
- 2 LCD Monitors In The Front
- Real-Time Traffic Display
- Heated Front Seats
- 6-Way Driver Seat -inc: Manual Rear Seat Easy Entry
- 6-Way Passenger Seat -inc: Manual Rear Seat Easy Entry
- Bucket Front Facing Rear Seat
- Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
- Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Traction Battery Level, Power/Regen, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
- Fixed Rear Windows
- BMW Online Selective Service Internet Access
- Electric Seat Adjustment
- Sport Leather/Metal-Look Steering Wheel
- Front Cupholder
- Rear Cupholder
- Proximity Key For Doors And Push Button Start
- Interior Lock Disable
- Valet Function
- Power Fuel Flap Locking Type
- Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button
- Remote Releases -Inc: Power Cargo Access
- Garage Door Transmitter
- Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
- Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning
- HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts and Residual Heat Recirculation
- Illuminated Locking Glove Box
- Driver Foot Rest
- Interior Trim -inc: Carbon Fiber/Leather Instrument Panel Insert, Carbon Fiber Door Panel Insert, Carbon Fiber Console Insert, Metal-Look Interior Accents and Leather Upholstered Dashboard
- Full Cloth Headliner
- Leather Door Trim Insert
- Leather/Metal-Look Gear Shift Knob
- Full Perforated Leather Upholstery
- Day-Night Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
- Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination
- Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console, Rear Console w/Storage and 2 12V DC Power Outlets
- Front Map Lights
- Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
- Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front And Rear Floor Mats
- Carpet Floor Trim and Carpet Trunk Lid/Rear Cargo Door Trim
- Cargo Area Concealed Storage
- Cargo Net
- Folding Cargo Cover
- Cargo Features -inc: Spare Tire Mobility Kit
- Cargo Space Lights
- FOB Controls -inc: Trunk/Hatch/Tailgate and Windows
- Tracker System
- Smart Device Integration
- Navigation System
- Power 1st Row Windows w/Driver And Passenger 1-Touch Up/Down
- Delayed Accessory Power
- Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
- Systems Monitor
- Redundant Digital Speedometer
- Trip Computer
- Outside Temp Gauge
- Digital Display
- Head-Up Display
- Fixed Front Head Restraints
- Front Center Armrest
- 2 Seatback Storage Pockets
- Perimeter Alarm
- Engine Immobilizer
- 2 12V DC Power Outlets
- Air Filtration
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- ABS And Driveline Traction Control
- Side Impact Beams
- Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
- BMW Assist eCall Emergency Sos
- Park Distance Control Front And Rear Parking Sensors
- Active Blind Spot Detection Blind Spot Sensor
- Frontal Collision Warning w/City Collision Mitigation and Cross-Traffic Alert Rear
- Lane Departure Warning
- Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning
- Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags w/Passenger Off Switch
- Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
- Airbag Occupancy Sensor
- Driver And Passenger Knee Airbag
- Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Pretensioners
- Surround View Back-Up Camera
- Front Camera
- Left Side Camera
- Right Side Camera