The I8 was the BMW flagship hybrid supercar, and it looks like something from outer space. The exotic yet futuristic design established the car as the manufacturer’s first step towards a new generation of cars and combined luxury with the plug-in hybrid experience. Many enthusiasts were excited when the car debuted in 2013 at the 2013 Frankfurt Motorshow, but it gathered more than a few laughs by the company’s choice of a combustion engine, and it has led many people to incorrectly assume that this supercar would underperform.
The I8 performance
BMW outfitted the I8 with a 98kw electric motor that produced, on its own, only 131hp. The traditional combustion engine didn’t seem to impress many, as it was the small 1.5L inline 3-cylinder engine found in some slower Mini Cooper cars. The 3-cylinder engine produced only 228hp, not a relatively impressive number for what many people consider to be a modern-day supercar.
The engine and electric motor combined performed at 357hp until the 2018 model year and received a slight tune to increase power to 369hp. Regardless of year, you could expect to get a surprising 420 lb-ft of torque.
But how fast was the BMW I8 really? When we talk about horsepower, we get a general idea for how the car will perform, but many drivers know there is more to performance than just power, and we have some pretty standard comparison tests. On a quarter-mile, the I8 has a time of an averages 12.1 seconds and usually finished the race at around 116mph. It has a top speed that is electronically limited to 155mph. Of course, our last test is the 0 – 60mph test, in which case we are looking at a pretty impressive 3.6 seconds.
Drivers can claim that the I8 handles incredibly well, and the provided torque gives it an impressive launch from a complete stop, although it doesn’t have the ridiculous horsepower of the new 3-cylinder hybrid that the new Koenigsegg Gemera has. In sports mode, the supercar provides an exciting yet comfortable ride; switching into eco mode changes the car completely, giving a calm and relaxed experience.
The I8 also didn’t provide an incredibly impressive electric range. On electric alone drivers could expect to get about 23 miles of range. With the full hybrid system engaged, though, the I8 would drive for a reported 330 miles.
Throughout the few production years from 2014 to 2020 when the production of the I8 was originally canceled to be replaced by a newer hybrid or possibly all-electric model – which has also since been canceled – there were less than 6,000 delivered and sold in the United States.
The car also won several awards over the years. While still in prototyping, the I8 received an award for North American Concept Vehicle of The Year in 2012, and the accolades didn’t stop there. In 2013 the Spyder version won Best Production Preview Vehicle, which makes that award number 2 before the car was ever released for production. At the 2015 Fame India Eco Drive the I8 also won World Green Car of The Year.