The discontinued BMW i8 may not have been the best sportscar (or supercar) out there but its exterior design language was a class apart
The BMW i8 is arguably the only car in the world that has given the best justice to term, ‘futuristic styling’. The original ‘Coupe’ version of the hybrid sportscar made its debut back in 2014 (alongside the BMW i3 hatchback) while the open-top ‘Roadster’ avatar hit the global market in 2017. In its six years of production, the car has won multiple awards in the field of automotive design, engineering and green mobility — read our review.
Now, BMW has shocked the automotive world by announcing that the i8 will be discontinued by April 2020. The German marque’s first plug-in hybrid will enter the ‘BMW Hall of Fame’ which holds some true gems of the past. Since its introduction, BMW has sold over 20,000 units of the i8. The figure is more than the collective sales of other electrified vehicles coming in the class.
The BMW i8 took shape from the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept that was unveiled back at the 2009 International Motor Show (Frankfurt Auto Show). Some of the main highlights of the concept were its 2+2 seating configuration, butterfly doors (BMW refers it to as gull-wing doors), plug-in hybrid powertrain with all-wheel-drive and, of course, a styling like never before.
The BMW i8 is not an outright performer like a well-rounded sportscar or an entry-level supercar. However, the engineering and sophistication that has gone into its production deserve praise. For starters, the petrol power plant is a 1.5-litre TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder motor that makes 228bhp and 319Nm by itself. The 96kW electric motor initially made 129bhp/250Nm but thanks to a battery upgrade (from 7.1kWh to 11.8kWh) in 2018, the output rose to 141bhp/250Nm.
Put together, the BMW i8 makes 369bhp and 570Nm in its final avatar. The electric motor drives the front axle while the mid-layout three-pot powers the rear wheels. Hence, the BMW i8 is effectively an all-wheel-drive sportscar boasting of a combined fuel efficiency figure of over 10km/l (an impressive figure for a sportscar). The car has an all-electric range of just about 25-30km but can hit 120km/h in that span. The combined range is claimed to be well over 500km while the top speed is capped at 250km/h.
We think that BMW has made the right decision by ending the i8’s life cycle. The car had started showing its age, especially when it came to interior equipment and functions. In the minds of enthusiasts, the BMW i8 was never a garage goal but one cannot deny the fact it pivoted one of the earliest modern-day approaches to efficient dynamics with minimal compromise on performance. It was never meant to be a replacement to the likes of a fast ‘///M’ product. Instead, it was an insight into what the Bavarian automaker was capable of.