BMW Reviews - Interior & Walk Around

2017 BMW i8 Walk Around


The i8 has a low fastback profile with short overhangs and wing doors that swing up from the windshield pillars. It’s radical while still being coherent, distinctive, and fresh. The drag coefficient is a very low 0.26. There’s a BMW twin-kidney grille and oversize 20-inch wheels. At the rear are startling wing-like fins that flow from the roof rail, forming an open tunnel on each side that’s not only futuristic but unique. There’s a groove in the bodywork where the waistline narrows and runs back to the fairly tall tail, with slab panels behind the rear wheel arches.

In every color there’s a lot of piano black, while the bright blue trim with some colors is distinctive and successful. Guaranteed, the i8 attracts a crowd. BMW uses the expression electrifying eye candy in its marketing, and it isn’t just hype.

Interior

The blue exterior accents are contagious, spreading to bright-blue seatbelts in the LED-lit cabin. The leather upholstery in our test car was a blend of ivory and black, with matte-silver trim on the layered dash, whose soft-touch plastics gave a premium feel, which is of course to be expected in a car with such a breathtaking price.

The dash layout is functional and predictable, modern but not so avant-garde as the exterior. There are original touches, for example the open cowl over the floating instrument pod behind the steering wheel, but the i8 is mostly recognizable BMW, especially the switches.

The highly contoured front seats are low but comfortable, separated by the tall tunnel for the battery pack. However we only got a few hours of seat time, so we can’t say how the seats will feel after a full day behind the wheel. The rear seats are useless for actual people, but fine for backpacks. The i8 is a two-seater, no matter what they say. There are small luggage compartments front and rear, but don’t be thinking you can carry suitcases.

The stylish gull-wing doors will take some getting used to, climbing in and out. The door sill is at least eight inches higher than the seat, and the driver must also squirm around the steering wheel. If you’re a woman wearing a skirt, modesty will be an effort. Also, the doors have no pockets for storage, otherwise you’d be dumping things on your head.

It’s not as quiet inside as you would expect from a $140,000 electric car. Even in all-electric mode, there’s a whine from the electronics at higher speeds, to go with the road noise from the low-rolling-resistance tires.

The engine, located behind the firewall behind the seats, sends less noise into the cabin than most cars with front engines, but the little triple has an uneven gurgle at idle that sounds a bit like an outboard engine. The cabin receives a sporty howl under acceleration, but it’s artificial, coming from a sound-generating chip that adds frequencies to the engine’s natural note, based on engine revs and road speed. And there’s an artificial honk that comes through the exhaust on upshifts.

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