As a testbed, the BMW i8 may not have lived up to its expectation. As a special two-seater that still draws eyeballs on the street, the 2020 BMW i8 surpasses nearly everything else.
In its final year on sale, the BMW i8 gets a 6.8 TCC Rating, skewed heavily toward its looks and performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
BMW’s mixed messages on the i8 never really landed. It was meant to be an efficient sports car with daring looks, but also was meant to point to an electrified future, along with the wholly unrelated i3. It succeeded at some but not all of its missions. In the end, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime coupe or convertible that one day will mark the early, compromised days of electrified performance.
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Like last year, the 2020 i8 is available in coupe or roadster configurations that cost $148,495 and $162,295, respectively. Options can push the price further from there, although every car gets the same head-turning looks—probably the point.
With the coupe, the i8 has head-turning butterfly doors, a low-slung shape and flying buttresses that have never gone out of style. With the convertible, it’s a droptop that’s exclusive—even among six-figure sports cars.
The i8’s performance never really matched its price tag, in the conventional sense. The turbo-3 and 11.6-kwh lithium-ion batteries and electric motors made just 369 horsepower, but propelled the car up to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. The exotic carbon-fiber body helped, as did the relatively rare driveline configuration that used electric motors to power the front wheels and internal combustion engine to help power the rear wheels. (The new Acura NSX uses a similar configuration.)
Lost in even more translation: the i8 is a better grand tourer than pure sports car. On electrons alone, the i8 travels just 18 miles after a three-hour charge on a Level 2 charger, but combined with the engine, the i8 nets 27 mpg combined, which is far better than any other car in its price range.
The i8’s suspension is geared toward softer cruises too, even if its seating capacity and luggage compartments don’t acquit themselves to being a good family car. There is just 5 cubic feet of luggage space, which is enough for about one roll-aboard suitcase.
The i8 hasn’t been crashed in the name of science yet, and it’s not likely to be either. Its cutting-edge materials may hold up in a crash, but we don’t suggest owners find that out on their own. One safety feature worth noting on the i8 is its available laser headlights that cost $6,300 extra. They’re brilliant, and the price is blinding too.
Roadsters cost about $16,000 more than coupes and both come in “worlds” that denote interior material and shades. Both cars are equipped with an 8.8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay compatibility and navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, leather upholstery, 20-inch wheels, heated seats, and automatic emergency braking. BMW’s warranty is generous too— 4-years/50,000-miles bumper to bumper with three years of complementary service.