The 2015 BMW i8 is a car that can’t help but draw a crowd everywhere it goes. It might not be the most expensive vehicle on the market, or the fastest, but it certainly cuts a unique and eye-catching profile that has pedestrians and passersby asking you through the driver’s window what piece of exotica you happen to be piloting. The fact that the BMW i8 also happens to be a hybrid adds an extra layer of intrigue, as it finds itself at the cusp of a group of exciting battery-assisted models that are proving to the world that going green doesn’t have to mean parking a Prius in the driveway.
Let’s take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 BMW i8.
01. The 2015 BMW i8 Is The Brand’s Second Supercar
The 2015 BMW i8 isn’t the first supercar to have emerged from Munich’s design studios, but you’ll have to take a considerable step back in time to find the original world-beater offered by the brand. Although some would consider the BMW Z8 a legitimate contender for the title of ‘supercar,’ a better fit is the BMW M1, a two-seat coupe that launched in 1978 and helped bring the M Division’s high performance wizardry to a global audience. Like the i8, the M1 was a limited production vehicle that catered to a select few, and it also represented a distinct departure from the automaker’s styling trends at the time.
02. The 2015 BMW i8 Steps Into The Future Of Design
That same out-there styling is a huge part of the 2015 BMW i8’s package. The car is a slowly-melting sculpture of glass and metal, showing off an aerodynamic shape adorned with details that are simply not found on other BMW models. Although the BMW i8 is certainly a sleek car, it also features sharp edges, numerous creases, and a geometrically-inspired profile that is unique in the BMW family. Throw in its scissor doors and a cockpit that wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi spaceship and you’ve got a design-first halo car that has buffed up BMW’s image across the board.
03. The 2015 BMW i8 Features A Plug-In Hybrid Drivetrain
The 2015 BMW i8 represents the first plug-in hybrid sports car to have been built by the company. The setup is quite elaborate: the BMW i8 features a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder gasoline engine that makes use of a turbocharger to produce 228 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, which works in conjunction with a single electric motor integrated into the front axle that itself is good for 129 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a smaller electric motor outback that contributes a modest 13 horsepower and 81 lb-ft of torque when it’s not serving as a generator to help keep the car’s battery charged. Total system output equals 357 horses and 420 lb-ft of twist, an impressive set of numbers for any vehicle, let alone one featuring a three-cylinder engine.
04. The 2015 BMW i8 Delivers All-Wheel Drive Traction
The 2015 BMW i8 provides buyers with an interesting take on all-wheel drive. The BMW i8’s gas engine is exclusively attached to the rear wheels, which means that the front wheels are motivated by the electric motor that we mentioned as being incorporated into the axle assembly. In regular driving, operation is transparent: the three-cylinder engine makes use of a six-speed automatic transmission, while the electric motor is managed by a special two-speed gearbox to keep it in sync. You wouldn’t want to take the plugin-hybrid off-road, but the system does offer better than average grip on wet roads.
05. The 2015 BMW i8 Is Quite Quick
The 2015 BMW i8 features the kind of performance one would expect from its future-racer looks and German engineering pedigree. With 420 lb-ft of torque on tap, fed through an all-wheel drive system, acceleration off of the line happens to be the i8’s specialty. 60-mph arrives from a standing start in just 4.5 seconds, which is not all that far off from what you could expect from one of BMW’s M cars. The i8 coupe’s top speed is limited to 155-mph, which is in keeping with the habits of automakers hailing from the land of unrestricted autobahns.
06. The 2015 BMW i8 Offers Battery-Only Operation
In addition to its generous power production, the 2015 BMW i8 also offers the ability to cruise along at more modest speeds exclusively under electric power. Selecting the eDrive mode from the BMW i8’s computer control system gives you the ability to tap into the car’s 15 to 22 miles (depending on driving style) of battery-only range. The car’s battery is charged not just when the car is parked and plugged in to the wall, but also sees electricity flowing its way when the i8 is braking, or when the it’s generator is allowing the gas engine to contribute some electrons to the cause.
07. The 2015 BMW i8 Charges Quickly
Let’s say that you want to spend the majority of your time puttering around on battery power rather than burning the gas in the 2015 BMW i8’s tank. In addition to its ability to charge from a regenerative braking system or by way of the three-cylinder engine, the BMW i8’s wall plug offers surprisingly quick replenishment of its battery. Using a 220-volt plug – fairly standard in the world of electric vehicles – you’ll top up in just 1.5 hours. Perhaps more impressive is the i8’s 110-volt performance, which asks for only three and a half hours of plug time before offering a full battery.
08. The 2015 BMW i8 Fares Reasonably Well At The Fuel Pump
High performance luxury coupes aren’t known for their frugality when it comes time to fill up the tank, but the 2015 BMW i8 manages to fare better than most. Officially, the EPA rates the BMW i8 at 28-mpg combined driving, which is respectable given its superior accelerative capabilities and prodigious power. It also affords the car a 76-MPGe rating, a unit of measurement that illustrates the distance the car can travel on an amount of energy equivalent to a gallon of gasoline – regardless of whether that energy comes from a battery pack or actual liquid fuel.
09. The 2015 BMW i8 Seats Four – In A Pinch
The 2015 BMW i8’s cockpit has been designed around the front two positions, which allow the driver and forward passenger to slide in, legs extended, and lean back under the coupe’s swooping roof. The rear of the car offers an additional two buckets, but beware – despite the fact that the BMW i8 features a wheelbase of 110.2 inches, which is on par with that of the Chevrolet Corvette, there’s very little space for humans to occupy in the second row. Think of the back row as an extension of the very small 5.4-cubic trunk and you won’t be disappointed.
10. The 2015 BMW i8 Is Priced Like An Exotic
If you’re by now sold on the idea of the 2015 BMW i8, be prepared for a bit of sticker shock. Not only does the BMW i8 look and perform like an exotic car, but it’s also priced like one: the coupe’s starting MSRP stands at $135,700. This puts the car in contention with a number of similarly-quick gas-only automobiles like the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS and the Jaguar F-TYPE R. However, unless you are willing to go completely electric – and add a pair of doors to the mix – you’d have to order a vehicle like the Tesla Model S to come close to matching the i8’s balance of eco-friendly design and high performance attitude.