The Most Under-Rated Cheap Supercar - We Road Test An Out Of Warranty BMW i8
When we pulled together our list of the 7 cheapest supercars you can buy in the UK today – The BMW i8 easily made the list. In fact depending whether you believe a Porsche 911 is a true supercar, the i8 was either the second or third cheapest supercar you can buy.
Read what we had to say about the BMW i8 and which other supercars made our cheapest supercars list.
The BMW i8 Was So 2014
True, the BMW i8 was the “in” supercar of 2014. Sporting its hybrid technology and boasting 149mpg it showed everybody a glimpse of what the supercar world had in store.
And the experiment which was the BMW i8 worked. It surpassed expectations and sold incredibly well for a £100,000 supercar. In its first full sales year it sold 5,456 units and Ian Robertson, BMW AG Board Member for Sales and Marketing said “The success of the BMW i8 speaks for itself.”
Robertson went on to say, “It is already the world’s most successful hybrid sports car and has comfortably exceeded our own expectations. I can think of no better illustration of the relevance of our young BMW i brand.”
However, when looking to purchase an i8 in 2019, you’ll find the cheapest BMW i8s for sale are starting to come out of their BMW warranty period. And nobody really knows what happens to an i8 out of warranty. How reliable exactly is that hybrid technology at the heart of this German hybrid supercar?
This begs the question, should i buy a BMW i8 outside of warranty?
What I am going to try to do today, is run through the pros and cons of buying a 4 year old i8, and answer that question.
What is the price for a BMW i8 in the UK?
When the BMW i8 was brand new back in 2014 the price started from £99,845. However the cost of this was reduced to £94,845 as it qualified for the government’s £5k low-emissions discount.
If you were looking at the price of a 2019 BMW i8 in the UK, a base spec coupe now costs £114,935. Whilst the BMW i8 Roadster price starts from £126,935.
Looking through the supercar classifieds today, you can find a used BMW i8 for sale for around the £43,000 – £45,000 mark. In this price range you will almost certainly be looking at a higher mileage example. However, this does yield over 50% depreciation on the original list price of £100,000. In just about 4 years that is rather steep… Meaning a good deal for a buyer. Not so good if you purchased new and are looking to sell.
How much does it cost to run a BMW i8?
Let’s move on to looking at how much it costs to run a BMW i8. We filled up the its 36 litre tank completely and it cost us just over £45. And for that much money we achieved around 280 miles for a complete tank, with a little bit of town driving, motorway cruises and electric only driving. Meaning we got just over 35mpg. So far, so good.
Although 35mpg is quite a way off of BMW’s official figure of 149mpg. That official mpg figure is plainly unachievable, and one that we don’t think anybody could match.
The power-plant in this car is made up of a small turbocharged 1.5-litre engine with only 3 cylinders producing 220bhp. This is paired with a small electric motor position over the front axel powering the front wheels. When the combustion engine and electric motor are working in unison, they put out a tidy 370 horsepower.
That doesn’t sound a lot for a true supercar, and in truth it isn’t. But the i8 is a new generation of supercar, sporting very new technology. It is still enough power to get the car from 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds.
As well as the reasonably comfortable fuel costs when compared to other supercars. There are many other perks of owning the supercar of the future.
Driving through Central London will be less painful, as you don’t have to pay any congestion charges, and parking is just as easy. There are plenty of electric charging bays in carparks around the country. And with a lack of cars taking advantage of these bays currently, you will almost always find an empty parking bay.
You will also be surprised to learn that the BMW i8 isn’t exempt from road tax. After the initial few years of new car road tax, you will be paying £130 a year. Not great for an electric hybrid, but still not as bad as the maximum road tax many supercars command.
How much does it cost to insure a BMW i8?
This is going to be different for everybody. To get a rough insurance price for an i8, we got a few comparison quotes for people of different ages and varying levels of no claims bonuses.
The i8, like many supercars, falls into insurance category 50. Making it one of the most expensive cars to insure. However when we got a few comparison insurance quotes we were pleasantly surprised.
For a 35 year old male with 10 years no claims it would only cost £1,306 to insure a BMW i8 for a year. We didn’t notice too many lower prices than this even as you increased the amount of no claims bonus. To put this in perspective, this is a similar cost to insuring a BMW M3.
It looks so futuristic
BMW’s first attempt at producing a future supercar didn’t end with the hybrid powertrain. They certainly spent some time sculpting the bodywork. The aesthetics of the BMW i8 remind us of how the Back To The Future films portrayed the future back in the 1980s. All of the swooping lines and separated body panels certainly look very futuristic, even for 2019, let alone 2014 when this car was designed.
When driving through the streets of London, this car certainly commands attention due to its futuristic look. Even getting in and out of the car is surrounded by drama with its gull-wing style doors. It just adds to the futuristic feel that surrounds every aspect of the i8. Although in our opinion we think dry ice should pour out of the doors when you open them, just to add to that spaceship-esque feel!
The interior doesn’t disappoint either, with the futuristic aesthetics following you inside. The inside of this car is filled with technology, including full digital displays, head up displays and more.
One small gripe with the interior are some of the cheaper feeling materials BMW decided to use. There are hard plastics everywhere, and this doesn’t quite live up to the soft touch textures you find in other luxury cars.
Is the BMW i8 practical?
Sticking with the interior of the i8 for a moment, the back seats in this are much roomier than its rivals. There is more space back there than in a Porsche 911, and an Audi R8. I’m not saying the rear seats are spacious, just an improvement over its competitors.
This should be expected as it is both wider and longer than the R8 and 911.
Due to the width, and the way the doors open, this isn’t the car to be parking in tight spaces. You will almost certainly be parking either at the back of the car park, or in an electric parking bay.
The head room in the front for both passenger and driver is very good due to the swooping roofline.
However moving on to storage space, the i8 doesn’t quite hold up to its 911 rival. In fact due to the striking swooping lines, the boot space in this car is less than you’ll find in a Volkswagen up! It can hold just 154-litres of luggage.
So how does it actually drive?
BMW have done their best to tune their tiny 1.5-litre engine, and they have given it some character. It gets up to speed quickly, although it certainly isn’t face meltingly fast like other supercars.
When you are looking at buying an i8 from new at £100,000 and you look at its direct competitors, you will be in the range of a Porsche 911 Turbo, or an Audi R8. It is very hard to compare performance across these three cars, as the i8 simply can’t compete. The i8 is a supercar in a different form.
Both the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo far outweigh an i8 in both engine size and pure performance. But this is what you would expect from two rivals sporting straight-6, and V8 engines. BMW’s tiny 3-cylinder will never be able to directly compete.
On that note, another aspect where its competitors dominate the i8 is in exhaust sound, and that emotive feeling when you accelerate.
I mentioned that BMW have used some clever trickery to add personality to its small engine. However what they haven’t been able to do is add that visceral sound that comes with almost all supercars.
In fact BMW have to play enhanced, pre-recorded audio through the speakers to give the driver some resemblance of engine noise. The i8’s exhaust doesn’t make any sort of sound that you would expect from a supercar, and in our eyes this is its biggest downfall. However some would say that to mark the i8 down for this would be missing the point of this hybrid supercar.
We have mentioned that this German hybrid supercar does have some grunt, although not what we would expect, but how does it corner?
This really is designed as more of a grand tourer than an aggressive b-road supercar. It is very quiet and tame when cruising along, and it handles roads with minimal fuss.
On a normal daily drive around town, the i8 handles very well. It takes bumps in its stride and actually felt softer to drive than any other BMW M car. The driving dynamics at a low speed (below 60mph) have been very well tuned by BMW.
When you start to push the car, either on empty back roads or around a track, is where things start to get a bit vague. The steering at speed feels weightless and there is a hint of understeer when really driving fast.
This is somewhat due to the ultra skinny tyres that the i8 is wearing. At the front it only has 215/45 section tyres, which are skinnier than many saloons on the road. This lack of feel through the wheel is a disappointment, and prevents this car from being able to compete with its direct rivals.
Is the 2014 BMW i8 much different to a brand new one?
Since launching in 2014, not too much has changed on the i8. The only visible change on the exterior is the addition of a small badge on the C-pillar, and a few extra colour combinations. E-Copper and Donnington Grey. There hasn’t been a typical LCI version with any face-lifted parts. Meaning from the outside you wouldn’t really be able to tell if the car is 4 years old or brand new.
The major development in the new models is an upgrade to the front mounted electric motor. BMW have spent the last 4 years evolving this technology, and have uprated the battery from 20Ah too 34Ah. This boosts the peak power available from the electric motor up to 141bhp. The more interesting side of this upgrade comes in the form of extended range. The new battery gives the i8’s all-electric range an increase of over 50%.
So, tell me, should I buy a used BMW i8?
The technology within a BMW i8 is still current enough to allow it to stay relevant. And with the ability to own one of the most futuristic supercars on the planet today, all for just £45,000… It’s almost a no brainer.
Of course there is still an issue of how long the batteries will last, and what the cost for replacing these would be. No one has really seen a repair bill for replacing the batteries in an i8, or repairing its complex hybrid engine. So it is a little step into the unknown.
One good thing to note, is that even when the car is out of its standard 3 year warranty, the batteries themselves are covered for 8 years or up to 100,000 miles. That should give a little re-assurance.
But in our eyes, a 4 year old £100,000 supercar for £45,000 is a steal. And let’s face it, what other supercar gives you that feeling of stepping into a spaceship every day?
So when it comes to deciding which supercar is the best budget supercar to buy in 2019. At £45,000 the BMW i8 has to be towards the top of the list!