It’s hard to think of a car that can match the Maserati GranTurismo I wrote about in my last article in terms of instant depreciation and poor sales, but I’ve found one that can certainly keep up in both those categories – the BMW i8.
To give a bit of background on the i8 for those that aren’t familiar, when it was introduced it was lauded as being one of the first hybrid “supercars.” This was about the same time that Porsche, Ferrari, and McLaren were introducing their hybrid hypercars, but all of those were million-dollar cars that were only offered to their respective marque’s top clients.
To this day the i8 is still the only production model in the “supercar” segment that features a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It was priced around $150,000 for the coupe and around $170,000 for the roadster, putting it up against the Aston Martin Vantage, Maserati GranTurismo, and several variants of the 911 and Mercedes AMG GT.
When it was launched, I remember being amazed that a guy I met at cars and coffee had just gotten his for only $25,000 over sticker when the local dealer in Newport Beach was asking $100,000 over.
Today, we know that was one of the worst investments that guy ever made, but we all know what they say about hindsight. However, much like that GranTurismo in my last article, the i8 has depreciated so much over the last few years that I felt it was finally time to get my hands on one and see if the value proposition had finally arrived now that i8s can be had for half of their original price.
Photo - @m3.raw / @chrisleestudios
In terms of styling, it’s hard to find anything in the same price range as the i8 that will get as much attention as it does the moment the doors go up. Of course, it does get plenty of attention anyway with the styling as it is, but the doors are without a doubt the party piece.
For some, the flashy doors are a drawback, but that sort of person wouldn’t really be looking for a bargain “supercar” anyway. Overall, the styling is good in my opinion, and I’ve not met many that would disagree. I
f I had to criticize the styling, I would say that the rear quarters with their flying C and D pillars are a bit much, but in the right color it would be nearly impossible to notice.
The interior will be very familiar to anyone that’s been in a modern BMW, which at this point is a good thing. When the i8 was $150,000 and up, having an interior that’s broadly similar to the M3 and M4 is a bit of an issue, but at the current price it’s much less of one, and frankly compared to rivals one might be considering like an early R8 or a Ferrari 360 or a Maserati GranTurismo, it does have modern tech in it that is quite nice to have.
That said, in the particular example I was driving the interior was showing more wear than it should have for a car with 48,000 miles, which I suspect is the result of the eco-friendly material BMW used in order to push the i8 as a green “supercar.”
Photo - @m3.raw / @chrisleestudios
Finally, there’s the driving experience. The more astute reader may have noticed that I’ve put the word “supercar” in quotes every time I’ve used it to refer to the i8 and the driving experience is why.
Reviewers were quick to criticize the acceleration of the i8 as it did 0-60 in roughly four to four and a half seconds. That’s not great for a modern “supercar,” but compared to the cars it would be cross-shopped with now given its price, it’s certainly not bad.
When driving the i8, I never found myself wishing I had more power at my disposal. In the corners, though, the i8 was excellent. I didn’t push it too hard, but I wasn’t being a granny with it either and I could tell it had more to give.
The only real complaint I had from behind the wheel was that even though the steering response was quite sharp, there was very little feedback and I felt a bit disconnected from the front wheels.
What does this all mean for the i8 then? Is it now finally priced where it should be? In my opinion, to answer that question we have to divide the market into two sectors – the buyers that are looking for a budget supercar and the buyers that are looking for a daily driver that’s also fun to drive on weekends.
For those looking for a budget supercar, the i8 definitely has the looks of the supercar but manages to be much more comfortable and more eco-friendly than alternatives and in many cases equally as fast as similarly priced options.
Where it really puts its best foot forward, though, is in that second category – as a car that can be used daily and still be fun on the weekends. It does lack in storage space, but it is comfortable and quiet enough that even my mother was asking me to look at pricing after I took her for a ride.
So to answer the questions I posed at the beginning of this paragraph, it means that it is time to finally start giving the i8 a second look and that it is finally starting to reach the price where it present a proper value for money.
Check out the video review below