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