Part supercar, part hybrid, and part spacecraft, the 2019 BMW i8 is a paradox. Its futuristic styling would have you believe that it makes all sorts of ungodly noises when underway, yet it’s almost silent. The gullwing doors denote a cramped interior, however, it’s all-day comfortable. And while it looks as though it’ll go one million miles per hour, let it be known that a new Mustang GT is just as quick. So what is the actual point of the BMW i8?
To find the answer, keep reading because this is a car that’s bound to surprise everyone.
2019 BMW i8 Exterior:
If you would have asked me 40 years ago what a car from the future will look like, this would’ve been it. Based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept from 2009, the i8 comes to us looking like a concept car. With the curves and contours of a supermodel along with an elegant yet aggressive persona, the i8 is perhaps one of the best looking vehicles BMW has ever produced. And with a carbon fiber interior cell, hybrid drivetrain, and a mid-mounted turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, the i8 continues to make people ask questions about what the future holds for the automobile.
In person the i8 is stunning, in fact, I don’t know if there is a bad line on the entire car. The doors, a bone of contention with many, flip upwards and are a mix of Lamborghini gaudiness and Mercedes Gullwing beauty. The windshield is long and raked while the rear of the car is a combination of complex aerodynamics and high style. At 20-inches, the wheels are large, and fill out the wells nicely, yet they utilize ultra skinny tires (215/45-series up front and 245/40-series in the rear), which are hardly supercar size. Once more, while there’s nothing conventional about the i8 in terms of design, live with it for a week and all of a sudden, it becomes part of the family. How BMW has managed to make a vehicle that looks this good feel so comfortable remains a mystery.
2019 BMW i8 Interior
Where the exterior of the i8 is ultra-modern and futuristic, the interior is decidedly more pedestrian and user-friendly, although entering and exiting can be a chore. Swing up the door, step in and then slide the rest of your torso into the bolstered seats. The cockpit of the i8 is a carbon-fiber cell and upon entering you’ll find that you’re sitting in it, as opposed to on it. Once settled in, the i8 coddles you in a comfortable driving position that’s akin to your favorite lounge chair. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes allowing the driver to find a suitable position, and thanks to a curved center console, the i8 is far more comfortable than we would have imagined. There are rear seats as well, but they’re no more useful than an extended parcel shelf and should only be used for humans if dire circumstances occur. The same can be said in regards to the i8’s storage capacity as it packs in a whopping two cubic-feet overall.
The dash layout is straightforward, and can be toggled in a variety of configurations depending on how the i8 is driven. By itself, the cluster is easy to read and navigate. EV and Hybrid modes will have blue displays showing not only speed, but EV charging, regenerative braking, and total power output, while jogging the console-mounted shifter to the left turns the dash red, revealing a Sport Mode and a clever digital tachometer. Other readouts such as ambient outdoor temperature, battery life, fuel, trip meter and a host of other functionality is present and can be accessed by the steering wheel mounted controls.
Positioned center dash is a large information screen that’s controlled via a console-mounted rotary knob. This is the heart of the i8s cabin and serves, as your entry point to any and all information the vehicle has to offer. Everything from navigation and audio settings to the i8s EV consumption screens can be found here. The interface is thankfully intuitive, and while it seems there is an infinite number of screens, the truth is, once everything is set to your liking, you’ll basically forget about it and get back to the business of driving. Standard HVAC controls complete with traditional buttons and knobs are also present, as are multitudes of buttons that allow one to toggle through the i8’s various drive modes. On the road, the cabin is also delightfully quiet, except in Sport Mode, when artificial engine noises are pumped through the vehicle’s audio system. But don’t worry, they sound great.
2019 BMW i8 Performance
With a combined output of 369 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque from its turbocharged 1.5-liter I3 and synchronous AC motor, the i8 presents itself as a supercar. But wh that while quick, by today’s lofty standards, it’s not blisteringly so. The sprint from zero to 60 mph takes around 4.3 seconds, and maximum velocity is electronically limited to 155 mph. Flat-out speed, however, is not what the i8 is all about. Instead, it was produced to deliver an engaging and exhilarating hybrid driving experience while not overwhelming the pilot. As mentioned earlier, the immediate cabin is crafted from carbon fiber, however, the rest of the lower structure is aluminum, which makes for one extremely stiff vehicle.
Driving the i8 is a wonderful experience. An advanced all-wheel-drive system means that launches are immediate and with authority. There is no wheel spin or drama, but instead, a rush of torque that motivates you forward. Plugging the i8 into a power outlet results in 18 miles of EV range with a top speed of 75 mph. In total, there are three different drive modes: Electric, Hybrid, and Sport. For daily usage, we found Hybrid Mode was the best, as it lets drivers cruise around town while delivering maximum efficiency, and only engages the engine when you put your foot to the floor.
Sport Mode is also fun and combines both conventional engine and the additional torque from the electric motor. What’s interesting however, is that for a vehicle this advanced, the driving experience is surprisingly analog. The steering is nicely weighted, the brakes feel great, and the handling is nothing short of sublime. Is it the fastest car out there? Absolutely not. But with a driving experience this superb it doesn’t need to be.
2019 BMW i8 Safety
Equipped with the latest in safety technology, the 2019 BMW i8 has such features as all-wheel drive, airbags throughout the cabin, a carbon fiber cockpit, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, blind-spot monitoring, programmable LED daytime running lights, and a rearview camera.
Additional safety features can be seen at BMWUSA.com.
2019 BMW i8 Overall
From the outside, the 2019 BMW i8 would have you believe it will destroy all comers in regards to performance. Instead, it does exactly what the engineers designed it to do, which is deliver a wonderful and sport-oriented driving experience, while also exhibiting some of the company’s most advanced technology. The i8 was an absolute joy to live with for the week, and while it’s pricey at $152,192.00, it’s sure to deliver an ownership experience that few other vehicle will be able to match.
Drop by your local AutoNation-affiliated BMW dealer today to check one out!
*Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.
**Vehicle MSRP of $152,195.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.