Some have criticized the i8 for its small (by sports car standards) three-cylinder engine, but it actually doesn’t sound half bad.
BMW i8 is a truly special car, one that the Bavarian automaker won’t be quick to replicate. It is a very unique proposition primarily thanks to its design, but the fact that it’s a plug-in hybrid reliant on a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder adds to its mystique - driving it, you would not know that such a small engine is the unit motivating the car.
The B38 1.5-liter is essentially half of BMW B58 3-liter straight-six and it’s used in the base 1 Series model or several MINI variants. However, in all those other applications, the engine is in a lower state of tune - in the i8, it is pushed to 228 horsepower and it is boosted by two electric motors for a grand total of 369 horsepower in post 2018 models or 357 in earlier examples.
If you’ve ever had a chance to drive an i8 or be a passenger in one, you’ll know that it’s remarkably quick, even quicker than the figures would suggest. However, if you’re a car enthusiast, you undoubtedly also figured out that the engine noise you were hearing inside the car was fake and played through the speakers.
BMW doesn’t offer any settings that allow the driver to enable or disable the faux engine thrum, but the car can be modified to eliminate it. And unlike most cars, the i8’s exterior sound is also enhanced, via resonators that amplify the exhaust note and somehow make it sound like it’s being emitted by a bigger engine, not a puny three-pot.
So have you ever wondered what a BMW i8 sounds like with its stock exhaust setup, but all the fakery turned off? Well, new YouTube channel Janky Whips posted this video highlighting exactly that and thus culling your curiosity on the matter - I know I always wondered about it but never came across a video that demonstrated it.