Hybrids & Electrics

BMW Kills Flagship i8: What Replaces It?

BMW announced today that it will end production of the flagship i8 sports car next month. Available as both a coupe and roadster, BMW has built 20,000 over six years. Both design and styling expressed the pinnacle of BMW’s abilities and engineering prowess. When it debuted as a concept in 2011 nobody expected it to begin production pretty much identical to the concept’s design. As a plug-in hybrid, it has been the most exotic vehicle to feature that technology.

The i8 was first a concept in 2011 before going into production in 2014

2020 BMW i8 | BMW-1
2020 BMW i8 | BMW

Appearing first as a concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show the limited production of the i8 helped BMW with developing more mainstream hybrid systems. Once in production beginning in 2014, the i8’s 1.5-liter three-cylinder hybrid system was steadily improved. The powertrain is rated at 368 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Its 0-60 time is 4.4 seconds. Economy is rated at 69 mpg.

Since September 2019 the special edition i8 Ultimate Sophisto Edition has been built. Limited to just 200 units it was marked by its distinctive Sophisto Grey metallic paint and copper-colored accents. Fluid Black is used as an accent on both the exterior and interior. Prices ranged from $147,500 to $163,300. That price in itself kept sales limited throughout the life of the i8.

Nothing compares to exiting the i8 with those butterfly doors

2020 BMW i8 | BMW-1
2020 BMW i8 | BMW

All-wheel-drive was standard equipment and the i8 only had the one three-cylinder hybrid powertrain. A “Tera World Package” added ceramic controls, black brake calipers, blue seatbelts and brown interior for the non-Sophisto i8s. Nothing quite compares to driving up to the valet and popping open the butterfly doors to step out. 

While seating only accommodates two people it’s not cramped. Storage space is minimal and surprisingly the front compartment doesn’t exist. A carry-on bag is about all you’ll be able to get into the passenger compartment. The last time we looked Apple CarPlay was available but Android Auto wasn’t.

The i8 is an exotic meant to be driven

2020 BMW i8 | BMW-1
2020 BMW i8 | BMW

There is some safety technology but not the full palette one would expect. Automated emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and front and rear parking sensors are all found on the i8. In spite of it not having every safety feature available it is a car that can easily be driven daily.

As with many exotics prices have fallen to attainable levels over the years. The first year 2014 price falls between $49,000 to $81,000. Though expensive, those prices are attainable for many. Only the coupe was available that first year.

2020 BMW i8 | BMW-1
2020 BMW i8 | BMW

The i8 has remained basically the same except for the addition of the roadster in 2019

By 2019 BMW updated the i8 for more power, range, and bigger batteries. It also added the roadster body style alongside the coupe. There wasn’t much else that ever changed in the six years the i8 has been produced.

BMW Vision M Next concept | BMW

So what’s next for the Leipzig, Germany, assembly plant? BMW execs have strongly suggested that the Vision M Next concept could be the i8s successor. Debuting last year, the Vision M Next rocked a 600 hp hybrid powerplant. If it sees production it is unclear if it will be a plug-in or all-electric. 

Based on seeing the concept the Next would be a worthwhile successor to the i8. We should know soon when and what the next BMW flagship will be.