BMW i8 Review After 3 Months Behind The Wheel

MAY 13 2015 BY PEDER NORBY 42

BMW i8, 3 Months on the Road, An Owner’s Perspective.

What this is not: A journalist review, half a day in a car and then an impartial but “I need to make this interesting” review about the car and it’s relation to a competitive set of cars.

What this is: An owner’s perspective after driving the car for three months and 4200 miles. Emotions, experiences and life with our BMW i8.

Why the BMW i8?

Ever do a dinner at the French Laundry in Yountville? Noma, in Copenhagen? Stay at a nice hotel in Venice or Paris?

The BMW i8 electrifies all the senses, similar to a world class dining or lodging experience. It does so, day after day after enjoyable day… As the extremely lightweight illuminated winged carbon fiber door is lifted, you know this car is something uniquely special, your hands grip the wheel, the start button is pushed and you depart silently. A total package of luxury, enjoyment and experiences that is sensorially, viscerally, emotional every time a drive in the i8 is experienced.

Each drive is looked forward to with anticipation, beginning as you first approach the BMW i8, and each drive is remembered when the car is safely back in the garage…even if the trip is to the local grocery store.

It’s an indulgence to own this car, but there is room in life for the indulgences, emotions and passions that when in balance with other life values, makes life so worth living.

What the BMW i8 is not is a “thump on the chest, smoke the tires, cloud the air, vibrating, maniacal beast.” No more so than the French Laundry is the place to get the 48 oz bone-in Rib Eye, with a “free t-shirt and free meal if you can eat it all” for $35.00.

Staying a bit longer with the food meme… sure you can get more food at a lower price, no need for waiting or a reservation. However, crappy junk food sold to the masses (see McDonalds) is just not cutting it anymore in the marketplace. The consumer is demanding something more.

So too is the automobile consumer.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on Peder’s blog. Check it out here.

BMW i8

BMW i8

I’m torn between two futures for our BMW i8.

On one hand our 2014 Electronaut Edition i8 “should” be kept as a low mileage garage queen as it’s future as a collectible is almost assured. Similar to the BMW M1 of the late 70’s that launched the M division, the 2014 BMW i8 is the flagship car that launched the I division. I can imagine BMWi being as or more prominent in the future as BMW M is today. It’s hard to predict the future and we usually get it wrong, but it’s equally as hard to imagine this car, and all that it represents not becoming a classic collectible.

On the other hand, the BMW i8 is a great car to drive every day and could easily be my daily driver racking up 10,000 miles a year for the next decade or two. A car this beautiful and this capable should be driven until the wheels come off. As far as cars in a similar class, it should be relatively easy and inexpensive to maintain the i8 with a three cylinder engine from the Mini and an electric motor.

So which future is it, hard ridden worn out road warrior or a garage queen automotive artifact?

To date we have taken the i8 on two long road trips totaling 3250 miles and an average of 300 additional miles a month driving the i8 around town. I suspect this pattern will continue but I’m leaning towards driving the wheels off.

BMW i8

BMW i8

DRIVING NOTES

  • When on a long road trip and not plugging the car in, Our BMW i8 returns 32-35 mpg with a total driving range of around 350 miles. Fill ups are around 10 gallons of gas. It’s a great grand touring car with more than enough room for two people and gear.
  • When at home driving around the city, our BMW i8 is getting 75mpg.
  • Our BMW i8 can go 15 miles on electric only driving, 20 miles if I am hyper-mileing. Many but not all of our trips are electric only.
  • All of the above numbers are very close to the EPA ratings.
  • 4200 miles and not one glitch or visit to the service center, except for free car washes (thank you BMW of Vista)
  • When at home we charge every time the car is in the garage. I imagine some drivers will seldom charge this car.
  • Our road trips were previously taken with a loaner car, as we are a two EV household. Now the i8 replaces the loaner car on road trips.
  • The i8 has a very wide dynamic range. From an easy, quiet going, super comfortable nice guy demeanor—to gear stick to the left position—Bad boy, racer boy, hooligan, damn that’s fast, damn that’s loud, holy shit this an amazing car to drive. Deep breath! I’ve never experienced a car with both personalities before. It’s part of the greatness of the i8, you can be a hooligan and then go full stealth mode. Absolutely unique in the automotive world.
  • The road devil is in that boy for sure. I’m so going to be in trouble with the law; it’s just a matter of time.
  • If you’re an introvert or shy, you will have problems driving the i8. When you open the doors of the i8, it’s like a 3300lb rare earth magnet attracting people. Something about the i8 is extremely approachable and people are fascinated and inquisitive about the car. It’s a bit much even for me and I’m hoping as more i8’s hit the road that this dulls out a bit. My favorite line to date was from a six-year-old girl at a restaurant “Is that car from the future?” My response was that the future was already here, would you like to sit in the car? Her parents were overjoyed and took lots of pictures. My practice has evolved whereby I don’t generally let stranger adults sit in the car but I do let children sit in the car.
  • The i8 is a beautiful piece of industrial automotive artistry.
  • When in sport mode, you can do 0-60 in less than four seconds, hit a governed 155 top speed, turn a 12 second quarter mile and the car has 357 horses and 420+lbs of torque combining both electric motors and the engine. Many think that this performance can only be sustained for a run or two, or, a lap or two. Wrong. When in sport mode the i8 is constantly making more electric energy than the electric motor can consume, hence full time all wheel drive. As long as you’re in sport mode this goes on for hundreds of miles. I’ve driven the i8 super hard in sport mode up a 22 mile twisty grade, at the beginning, I had 6 miles of electric range, at the end I had 14 miles. You simply cannot run out of juice for the electric motor when in sport mode no matter how hard you try.
  • Speaking of sport mode, almost every drive involves at least a little of sport mode. It can be as brief as less than four seconds.
  • When in comfort mode, which is similar to a traditional hybrid and the mode we use for long distance cruising, the cabin is extremely quiet and hard to detect engine noise except when passing, the ride is comfortable, not stiff and the steering wheel is light.
  • When in sport mode, the car stiffens the steering gets heavier, the revs are maintained at a higher rpm and it can get real loud in the car.
  • When in electric mode the i8 is perfectly capable in the city or on the highway, but slower than i3 0-60 with a top speed of 75mph.
  • The i8 gets similar mileage and range in the city or on the highway.
  • I thought about buyer’s remorse a lot before buying the i8. Would I get over the initial excitement and regret my purchase? Although we can afford the i8, a purchase like this is very unusual for us. So far no remorse, just the opposite, we are appreciating the car more than we thought we would. It helps to know the car is retaining its resale value at or above the sticker price according to the 58 used i8 car postings on autotrader.com.
  • We did not pay above sticker. I am grateful to BMW of North America for making my purchase easy, and for their assistance with customizing the i8 with factory parts only available to Electronauts.
BMW i8

BMW i8

Thanks for reading, feel free to ask any questions, I’ll answer them as best I can.

Cheers!
Peder

Categories: BMW

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42 Comments on "BMW i8 Review After 3 Months Behind The Wheel"

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ffbj
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ffbj

I would like to know where you can get a 48 ounce bone in rib eye, at a restaurant no less, for $35?
http://www.omahasteaks.com/product/KING-CUT%3A-48-oz-Ribeye-on-the-Bone-02524

jill jill
Guest
jill jill

As Paul McCartney Would Say.., “BABY I’M AMAZED”….L M A O…With You

Peder
Guest
Peder

Guilty as charged:)

ffbj
Guest
ffbj

Aside from that great article. I think it is the premier plug in hybrid, glad you are enjoying it.

ffbj
Guest
ffbj
kdawg
Guest

Do you feel yourself wanting more EV range a lot of times? Have you managed to make any trips w/out the gas engine coming on? How loud is the engine?

jill jill
Guest
jill jill

“SILENCE IS GOLDEN”

Tech01x
Guest
Tech01x

I am very glad that you are enjoying your i8. I do think you should not worry about the miles – a car is meant to be driven and enjoyed while in motion.

George Parrott
Guest
George Parrott

One rebuttal:

“It’s part of the greatness of the i8, you can be a hooligan and then go full stealth mode. Absolutely unique in the automotive world.”

Not unique, as an even more “stealth mode” car is the Tesla P85D….and operating costs are about 1/3 or less what you experience in the i8. Considered both and went with the P85D…faster, roomier/more practical for family, and much less costly to maintain. ZERO running costs at 8500 miles so far (and free Tesla Jackets even!).

Peder
Guest
Peder

The p85d is an amazing car and if I ever see you at a drag strip I’ll try to keep up the best I can.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the distance is so great in the i8 from loud gasoline full throated high revving road course car, to silent well manored front wheel drive electric car that makes it unique to me at least

A key for both cars in high performance driving is the all wheel drive.
It’s becoming a must for top end cars
I’m loving your posts and congrats on owning a great car George.

George Parrott
Guest
George Parrott

Both impressive paradigm shifts in the enthusiast car option category. Down the road a bit I can see myself tempted by Tesla’s projected return of a sports car on the Model 3 platform. I do applaud BMW for their migration into electrical power trains and am GREATLY impressed with the CFRP body shell engineering and technology.

George Parrott
Guest
George Parrott

Peder,

You do know, I hope, that some/much/all? of that “full throated roar” is simply acoustic input to the driver and passenger compartment and is coming from the sound system….not from the actual engine?

Nix
Guest
Nix

The prankster side of my personality thinks it would be really funny to hack into a buddy’s i8 sound files and replace that throaty engine sound with the sound from a 1970’s Vespa scooter.

Or a similar vintage old jalopy missing on several cylinders, with an exhaust leak, and backfiring randomly.

Hopefully Peder doesn’t have “friends” like me in the real world. *grin*

jerryd
Guest
jerryd

The i8’s problem is it’s overweight by 1300lbs, just like the i3 is 1k lbs too much, for a CF car of their size.
Examples what they should be more like is the GM Ultralite, the Toyota 1/x that actually take advantage of composite’s light weight.
Overall I like the concept but not having more EV range and the price I’d rather build a custom all composite 1400lb 64 Vette EV with 300+ mile range and 15kw generator.
It can be done for under $40k and be as cool or more so car.
Really the i8 shouldn’t have been over $50k and the i3 over $30k if designed, built better without all the extra weight.

Peder
Guest
Peder

Kdawg,
Yes and no, yes in the sense that I always like to have more electric range and tha a bigger battery would allow the full amount of hp from the electric motor. I think it is weaker due to the small battery.
No in the sense that our other cars are ev’s and it’s nice to have a car for the long road trips and special occasions. Of the three hundred local miles half are electric.

Ricardo
Guest
Ricardo

thanks for sharing with us mate

David Murray
Guest
David Murray

Peder, I’ve never seen an official number for how fast the i8 can go from 0-60 when in all-electric mode. I’ve seen different numbers thrown around. Can you give us your experience?

Peder
Guest
Peder

Slower than the i3.
I have seen 9 seconds in the electric only mode.
Cheers!

David Murray
Guest
David Murray

Still, that’s not bad. That puts it in the same ballpark as a Chevy volt when operating in EV mode. so if it just had another 10-20 miles of EV range, it would be a great car for driving around town in all EV mode.

Lensman
Guest
Lensman

“When at home driving around the city, our BMW i8 is getting 75mpg.”

No, it does not.

This is a meme I would very much like to see drowned in the bathtub. The term “MPG”, or “miles per gallon”, is a measure of fuel efficiency in a gas-powered car. Using it to mean “how far I can go by charging up my PHEV and occasionally using some gas when the battery runs down”… is reducing the term “MPG” to meaningless gibberish.

Driving a PHEV, it’s not “miles per gallon of gas”. It’s “miles per some odd number of kilowatt-hours of electricity plus a gallon of gas”.

Nix
Guest
Nix

Good luck with that. MPG Without Including Consumed Kilowatts* (AKA MPGmick) has been part of the Volt’s OnStar data since day one. Like it or not, I don’t think it is going away.

And maybe it shouldn’t. MPGmick has real meaning for people who’s goal is to simply use as little gas as possible because they hate using gas in specific. Some folks (usually solar panel owners) simply can’t be bothered by how many kilowatts they consume, because that is a completely separate issue to them vs. how much actual fossil fuels they consume.

MPGmick is a number that has meaning, even if it doesn’t have the meaning you might want it to (scientific measurement of all energy consumption per mile).

* (I’m officially coining this phrase right here, right now… Any resemblance to the word “gimmick” is purely intended. *grin* )

Nix
Guest
Nix

Just realized my dyslexia kicked in while I was writing that, and I flipped an “M” and a “W” in my head. Bummer. MPGwick.

Josh
Guest

I like MPGmeck better, defined as Miles Per Gallon Minus Externally Charged Kilowatts.

Nix
Guest
Nix

Thanks for the save! That would work too.

Lensman
Guest
Lensman

I certainly wouldn’t object to using the term “MPGwick”. Like “MPGe”, it shows some relationship to MPG but the extra letter(s) indicate a different meaning.

To play Devil’s Advocate, I note that the authoritative source for real-world Volt driving statistics, volt-stats.net, also uses the term “MPG” in this misleading fashion, with the footnote:

“MPG: Simply total miles driven divided by total gallons of gas burned. This is how the Volt reports MPG, although since the electricity is counted as ‘free’ it doesn’t give a true picture of the energy used. On the other hand, this is literally accurate. 🙂 ”

Hmmm, well I certainly don’t agree “this is literally accurate”, since if you used no gas at all, the so-called “MPG” would either be infinite or zero, depending on how you choose to look at it!

Nix
Guest
Nix

Yes, it definitely is an very unfortunate case of TLA overloading. And while “MPG” is the generic TLA used as a measure of units multiple times for everything from MPG city, MPG highway, MPG combined, MPG charge sustaining mode, etc, it certainly needs some sort of standard clarification language.

Just like the same “MPG” is used for City/Combined/Highway, even though each of these three things mean completely different things, there needs to be some way to easily understand when somebody is talking about Miles Per Gallon Minus Externally Charged Kilowatts.

Otherwise we get this confusion, similar to two people taking about a regular gas car’s MPG when one is talking city, and the other is talking highway. Definitely confusing without some sort of additional clarification.

And yea, voltstats got it right with their notation regarding the Volt’s “MPG” data from OnStar. Now we just need to figure out a way to communicate that information from voltstats in a much shorter way that everybody will intuitively understand the same way they understand MPG city vs. MPG highway.

EVer
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EVer

My Volt says 226 MPG but i do not get 226 miles per gallon of gasoline

i get around 38 miles per gallon, not 226

Nix
Guest
Nix

Wait. When you say you get 38 MPG in your Volt, are you saying you get 38 MPG in the city? 38 MPG on the highway? 38 MPG combined?

Now I’m picking on you to make a point, but you’ve just given an example where “MPG” in your post could be interpreted to mean 3 different things.

Wallace
Guest
Wallace

It gets very complicated to come up with a mpg figure for an ev or erev. MPGe is not relavent. The only accurate way of comparing would be to include cost of current gas and cost of electricity and for it to mean anything you have to have a gas cars average mpg in there. For example, I drive my Volt to work back and forth 20 miles for 0.40 cents in electricity. Comparing this to my gas car that gets 20 mpg, it costs 2.39 for the same trip with today’s gas prices. The Volt is 6 times more efficient. When gas prices were 4.00, my Volt was 10 times more efficient.
So unless people want to go through all these calculations, the best way is to not include the electricity part which is seriously so cheap anyway it is like free.

Nix
Guest
Nix

Nice review Peder. This is the first time I’ve actually considered the i8 to be on my “desirable” list (ignoring the price).

I’m now hoping BMW will do as good a job with the 330e as they did with your i8 (coming back to reality and taking into account prices).

Doh! I’ve just been “Halo’ed” by BMW’s Halo PHEV!! *grin*

Peder
Guest
Peder

The whole MPGE thing gets really complicated. For example, if I drive only only in coastal north county San Diego, I can do so in electric only and no or extramly little gas.
If i drive the typical 12,000 miles a year averaging 30 miles a day, and I plug in every night, I’m going to hit the 76 epa mpg.

However if I never plug in and only drive on the gas engine it will be around 32 mpg.

So it depends on each and every driver and their unique situation. I described our situation as best I could.
Cheers!

Lensman
Guest
Lensman
Seems to me that PHEVs need two ratings; one for kWh consumed per mile, and the other gallons of gas consumed per mile. The two shouldn’t be mixed up. The MPG metric (if used as intended) is useful because you can compare the fuel efficiency of different vehicles. Peder said: “The whole MPGE thing gets really complicated… if I never plug in and only drive on the gas engine it will be around 32 mpg. “So it depends on each and every driver and their unique situation.” That’s just what I was saying, but putting it differently. The point is that by using “MPG” to indicate miles including both gas consumption and electricity consumption, you’re no longer comparing fuel efficiency. You’re now mainly comparing driving habits. In other words, MPGwick doesn’t compare cars, it compares drivers. And unlike real MPG ratings, that doesn’t help anyone when it comes to evaluating cars or trying to figure out how much it will cost to drive one. However, since PHEV drivers do like to report and compare them, I suppose we need to come up with a term that means what you want to measure; a term unrelated to MPG, which it’s not.… Read more »
Josh
Guest

It would be great to have a phone app that you could map a trip and it would say the amount of electricity or gas used for a list of plug-ins (or ICEs). You could enter your electricity cost and gas cost to get a cost for the trip for each vehicle type.

This would help people better evaluate what plug-in fits their lifestyle the best.

Nix
Guest
Nix
Just having 2 numbers, one for MPG with the gas motor running, and one for kilowatts per mile (or similar) in pure EV mode also has it’s own problems. The biggest problem being that it doesn’t provide any information about the overall gas consumption. Consider these two vehicles: 1) 50 MPG Combined / 3.5 kilowatts per mile 2) 35 MPG Combined / 3.2 kilowatts per mile Which car uses less gas per year? Based on these numbers you would instantly assume car #1. But consider this additional information: Car 1 only has a 4 mile range in EV mode, and runs the gas engine 80% of the time over 15,000 miles in a year. Car 2 has a 50 mile EV range, and runs the gas engine only 10% of the time over 15,000 miles each year. Now we have additional information that changes the entire story. Now clearly car 1 will use much more gas, and will both consume more total BTU’s of energy and will cost more to operate (depending on your electricity costs). The point of MPGe is a best-effort attempt at combining all of these pieces of data. The downside is that YMMV becomes YMWV (your… Read more »
EVer
Guest
EVer

MPGe is stupid and useless

just say how many miles you get on a charge, its simple

Steve
Guest
Steve

MPG means “how many miles do you travel for 34,020Wh.” That is how many Wh are in a U.S. gallon of gas. (just over 34KWh) Or 40,824Wh if you’re in the UK.

So if you use 3,402Wh of energy per mile, whether it’s in gasoline or electrical energy in a battery… you’re getting 10MPG.

My Tesla has averaged 102MPG over its entire lifetime (27,000 miles so far). I can easily get 125MPG by driving gently and my all-time record is 142MPG which occurred during a 50-mile trip through a lot of slow-moving traffic on the freeway. Pretty economical.

I would be disappointed by 35MPG.

ELROY
Guest

It is amazing how efficient these cars can be. I drove to Long Beach the other day. 70.1 miles and only used 14.5 kWh in my 2012 LEAF (only at 80% battery capacity due to degradation). This calculates to over 160mpge!

Nix
Guest
Nix

By “how many miles on a charge” I infer you are talking about just pure EV’s, or just EV-mode operation and not operation on gas.

How many miles you go on a charge includes two variables: Battery size and Kilowatts consumed per mile.

If you compare just range from 2 different cars, you aren’t comparing how efficient the cars are.

MPGe is a direct comparison of kilowatts consumed per mile for EV’s. (Specifically, MPGe is how many kilowatts are consumed if driven 33.7 miles on the EPA test cycle.)

Since battery size is excluded, this is a pure measure of efficiency.

Nix
Guest
Nix

Man, I’m just making lots of mistakes today. I should have said ” MPGe is how many miles you drive on 33.7 kilowatts on the EPA test cycle. Not kilowatts consumed if driven 33.7 miles.

How I managed to screw that one up that badly I’ll never know….

ralph
Guest
ralph

For $135,700 I could buy a Nissan GTR and a Nissan 370Z NISMO and have change left over for a lot of gas at $2.85 a gallon. Tough choice.

Francis X. Browne
Guest
Francis X. Browne

…I don’t know the initial Sale date for the i8, but I was surprised to see that 58 are already in the USED car market! Why do you think?

Phr3d
Guest
Phr3d

Many Thanks Peder for your efforts, particularly the comparison to the 30 minute ‘reviews’ that we have seen (So Many).

You answered my primary question, which is what happens when the electricity runs low, Thank You.

I still have a perticular Bitch with BMW for simply glossing over this issue, and where-oh-where are the reports of how much fun it is to beat up the M-Track in North Carolina?

One last thing, I know that no one will see, but:
Given the astounding computing power on our current sci-fi automobiles, wouldn’t (miles or kilometers) per (dollar or Euro or local currency) i.e., 10 miles per dollar, be easy enough to deliver? Car asks you how much your gasoline fill-up was, and it already Knows exactly how much electricity was needed to fill the battery back up. Constant readout, for the efficiency obsessed (necessarily ignores the cost of the vehicle, but -could- include maintenance fees).
I nominate miles per dollar as delivered by the computer a reasonable universal mark (further provable by photo of car’s actual report, rather than people’s memory and math skills).