Road Tests

BMW i8

2

thumbs upLooks like nothing else, hugely clever, quick and poised, business tax breaks, love those doors.

thumbs downExpensive, tiny boot, first year depreciation, only 20 miles on batteries

Should You?

One of the finest cars BMW makes with dramatic looks, super-light carbon fibre plastic construction, 228bhp turbo three cylinder 1.5 engines and serious performance with glorious handling. Faux engine noise makes it sound like an F1 car. Over £100k new but used ones down to £65k now. No government purchase grant but low Benefit in Kind Tax allowance and if you pay enough Corporation Tax you can write it off in first year. The i8 is the first range-extender EV to offer real driving thrills and supercar image with 0-60 in 4 secs and limited 155 mph top speed. Battery range is only 20 miles and real life fuel consumption is around 45 mpg. Rear seats only for kids and barely enough luggage room for several bags of shopping. Ideal for motorway driving with no range anxiety.

My Charging Life

Standard domestic wall socket will take eight hours to fully charge, BMW home wall charger gives 80% charge in two hours. Trundle round town on battery power for 20 miles then switch to Sport and batteries recharge as you drive.

The Downsides

Early depreciation on a par with Porsche 911 and Audi R8 if bought new but used prices will flatten out in next few years to around £50k – at which point the i8 becomes a bargain. Great design compromised by lack of space for passengers and luggage and it doesn’t feel quite as thrilling as a Porsche.

Verdict
5

A milestone car and an instant classic. Clever hybrid tech makes i8 very usable for town work and long journeys with 300-mile fuel range. History will judge the i8 as a very special machine indeed and the supercar that saved the supercar.