2019 BMW i8 Coupe – Minor Improvements throughout
The BMW i8 began production in 2014 and immediately became a firm favourite, with its futuristic styling both inside and out. Whenever you see an i8 on the road, you can't help but turn and stare, as it is such a stunning and breathtaking car. Even now, nearly five years on and the i8 still turns heads wherever it goes and with the new styling tweaks of the facelift model and the new colours and trims available, the i8 seems to be getting better and better. The BMW i8 is available as a 4-seat Coupe or 2-seat Roadster both are gorgeous, but I will be focusing on the Coupe model.
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Space, Practicality and Safety
The BMW i8 coupe has four seats. However, the rear seats can only really be used by young/small children due to very limited space, making it uncomfortable for any adults who may try to squeeze in. BMW has fitted two Isofix points for child seats, so young families should have no problem. Due to the door and frame design, it is quite tricky to manoeuvre in and out of the back seats.
Although the i8 coupe comes with a four-seat layout, it is more of a 2-seat sports car and will most likely be driven as such by couples. What this does mean, is that any extra bags or luggage items can be placed on the rear seats to gain that extra storage space. The boot is not that impressive with a capacity of just 154-litres, so no holiday suitcases. It is, however, larger than the Porsche 911 Coupe bonnet boot, which has a capacity of just 132-litres. The boot space is ideal for days out or weekend breaks which is where the i8 is more suited.
In the front, the BMW i8 is very roomy, and the new electrically-adjustable leather sports seats are surprisingly comfortable. Heated front seats are standard, as is the new Carpo interior trim. Getting into the i8 can be tricky at first due to the dihedral doors which move forwards and upwards, and relatively tall sill make the opening smaller than you would like. The first few attempts could be quite funny, but once you get the knack, it's pretty straightforward. There are no storage door pocket,s due to how they open (everything would fall out) but the glove box is of good size as is the storage cubby in the centre console. There are two cupholders in the rear but only one in the front, not sure why BMW haven't put two cupholders up front.
The i8 comes with an array of BMW's latest safety features as standard, and given that the body and chassis are made from high strength carbon fibre and aluminium the i8 has a strong shell. Some of the safety features included, are multiple airbags, Adaptive LED Headlights, cruise control with braking function, Drive Assist with surround view, High-Beam Assist and autonomous emergency braking. Although the BMW i8 as not yet been safety tested by the guys at Euro NCAP, there should be no doubt that it will do well and achieve a 5-star rating given how well other BMW's have scored.
Engine, Power and Performance
The i8 combines a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine and a 96Kw electric motor to produce a power output of 374hp and 570Nm torque. The petrol engine develops 231hp and 320Nm torque and is mid-mounted with power going to the rear wheels. The electric motor generates 143hp and drives the front wheels. Having this amount of power and torque means the i8 will get from 0-62mph in just 4.4secs and go onto to a limited top speed of 155mph. Power is never far away in this plug-in hybrid sports coupe no matter what speed, road or gear you are in, acceleration comes pretty instant.
The BMW i8 comes fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission rather than the more modern and standard BMW eight-speed due to the weight difference. The i8 is all about optimising performance; therefore, anywhere weight or drag can be saved, it has been. In total the i8 only weighs 1535kgs which helps it to grip and handle so impressively around twisty 'B' roads making it such a fun experience. The i8 gets various driving assistance systems like the BMW xDrive (all-wheel drive) and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) which not only increase the performance and handling of the BMW i8 but also help in safety terms as well.
The 11.7kWh battery that powers the electric motor uses regenerative braking for a bit of recharging. Mains charging can be done at public charging stations or by using a wall socket. A wall socket will fully charge the battery in 5 hours whereas the more powerful charging stations can fully charge the battery in 3 hours. Using in full EV mode, the i8 has a range of around 27miles from a fully charged battery so good for just nipping to the shops.
New Interior and Technology
The i8 is now available with a new Carpo interior trim in either black or ivory white, both look and feel of the highest quality. There are also various optional trims such as Accaro. I like the Accaro E-Copper trim as it mixes elegance and style with just the right amount of sportiness, definitely worth considering. The i8 comes with an 8.8-inch digital instrument screen along with an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen mounted centrally on the dashboard which supports the iDrive infotainment system. Some of the standard features are Connected Drive and BMW Connected+ app, Apple Carplay, head-up display (HUD), voice control and a Harmon/Kardon speaker system. The iDrive system is one of the best infotainment systems around with bright, clear graphics and excellent responsiveness and the iDrive rotary controller is a joy to use. BMW haven't tinkered too much with the basic layout of the interior and dashboard, but they have added the latest technology and software to keep it up to date, and I think it looks and works brilliantly.
The BMW i8 is a fantastic sports car and looks just as impressive and futuristic now as it did back in 2014 when it was first released. It has the perfect blend of power and performance when you want to push it hard, but it can also be calm, charming and discrete around towns and cities. If you're thinking about buying a sports coupe, then I would urge you to take the i8 for a test drive to see how it compares to other contenders such as the Porsche 911. I know which one I would choose.