2015 BMW i8

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2015 BMW i8 Review

By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor

Halo cars usually pack massive engines and massive performance into an exotic shape. But, in the case of the 2015 BMW i8 hybrid coupe, the company has taken a dramatically different approach. Unlike the Audi R8 or Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, BMW’s “Efficient Dynamics” philosophy is in full force with i8. With its mid-mounted turbocharged gasoline engine and electric-motor drivetrain, the carbon-fiber-and-aluminum i8 requires only 357 horsepower to make it move like a V12 exotic, and can travel up to 15 miles on electric drive only. Of course, the i8’s $137,500 price tag means you won’t be cross-shopping it with a Toyota Prius, or even the Cadillac ELR. However, a nice Porsche Panamera S E- Hybrid is an excellent competitor.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you’re looking for a way to combine 20th-century performance driving habits with 21st-century environmentally chic, the 2015 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid hits the bull’s-eye in both camps. Another bragging right is that the i8’s assembly process uses 100-percent renewable energy.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If clean and green take a backseat to the rumbling of a V8, V10 or V12 gasoline engine, the smooth and silent BMW i8 for 2015 may not have what it takes to entice you. You can get a nice Corvette Z06, Porsche 911 or Audi R8 and spend less doing so.

What's New for 2015

The 2015 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid coupe gains Comfort Access keyless entry and start system as part of its standard equipment list.

Driving the i8
Driving Impressions

The 2015 BMW i8 sports coupe truly delivers a one-of-a-kind driving experience. When set to E-drive, the i8 can cruise 15 miles solely on electric power at speeds up to...

... 75 mph. A number of noise-attenuating features help keep wind and noise to a hush, creating an eerily quiet cockpit perfect for enjoying the excellent harman/kardon audio system. The silence is broken once the throttle is jammed to the floor, an action that awakens the 3-cylinder turbocharged engine. A 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds will impress most critics, but it’s the unrelenting way the i8 delivers its power that is truly breathtaking. As for handling, the i8 delivers the kind of composure and balance befitting the car’s BMW heritage. We even like the electrically assisted power steering that is so effortless and responsive we dare say we prefer it over a hydraulic setup. You heard right.

Almost half the weight of steel, the i8’s carbon-composite body is every bit as strong, reinforcing crashworthiness while helping offset the added weight from the electric battery pack.

A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system can route 100 percent of the i8’s power to its rear wheels, its front wheels or some combination of both, all depending on traction needs.

2015 BMW i8 Details
2015 BMW i8 photo Interior

The 2015 i8 hybrid plug-in sports car takes the current BMW design aesthetic and adds a subtle dose of modernism by way of reusable materials, blue accents and clear contrasts. The comfortable front seats don’t offer a great deal of adjustability due to weight concerns, and the two rear seats are habitable for small children only. On the electronics front, the i8 includes BMW’s i ConnectedDrive service that utilizes topography and traffic information to choose the most efficient navigation route. There’s also a smartphone app that lets you remotely control various functions such as the air conditioning and door locks.

2015 BMW i8 photo

An exercise in ultra-contemporary design, the 2015 BMW i8 features expressive front and rear treatments that stretch wide and low to convey a supercar-like stance that is further emphasized by stylized LED headlights and a black translucent V-shaped element that extends back from the grille to the windshield. The BMW i8 dispenses with a B-pillar in favor of scissor-type doors that help facilitate access to the low-slung cockpit. Despite this futuristic appearance, virtually every design aspect serves a functional purpose. For instance, the hood vent works to promote cooling, while the split rear wing and front apron vents aid high-speed stability.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

For 2015, the hybrid plug-in BMW i8 comes nearly fully loaded from the get-go with standard features like navigation, leather-wrapped interior panels and upholstery, high-efficiency LED headlights, a fully digital instrument cluster, rain-sensing windshield wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control that maintains a preset distance behind the vehicle ahead. Safety features consist of six airbags, BMW Assist with 24/7 emergency services, and a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell.

Optional Equipment

As a low-volume, quasi-exotic car, the i8’s options list is limited to a full-color head-up display, a 360-degree camera system that provides a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle’s surroundings, and a pre-collision system. High-rollers can also order a set of custom-crafted Louis Vuitton luggage for the door-buster price of just $26,000.

Under the Hood

The 2015 BMW i8 coupe pairs an internal-combustion engine that drives its rear wheels with an electric motor/generation unit energized by a lithium-ion battery that powers the front wheels. The conventional powerplant is a turbocharged, 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine that produces 228 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the high-voltage battery pack, the i8 packs a net power output of 357 horsepower. Recharging the battery requires 3.5 hours on a standard 110V household outlet and 1.5 hours with a 220V charging station.

AC synchronous electric motor/generator
5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
1.5-liter turbocharged inline-3
357 net horsepower
420 net lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/29 mpg; 76 mpge combined city/highway
Range with full charge (electric-only): 15 miles
Range with full charge (electric + gasoline): 330 miles

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