2019 BMW i8 Expert Review

Editor's Overview

As a halo car, the 2019 BMW i8 Coupe and Roadster are quite the draw. These hybrid-performance machines use a tiny turbocharged 3-cylinder engine and electric motor to generate the kind of speed formerly relegated to big-displacement V8 and V12s. Impressive fuel economy and a very green footprint round out the reasons to buy.

You'll Like The 2019 BMW i8 If...

The 2019 BMW i8 Coupe and Roadster offer a chance to be as mean as you are green. A limited run ensures exclusivity, not to mention ceaseless enviable stares. Beyond its impressive performance stats, the i8’s assembly uses 100-percent renewable energy, adding another feather to your eco-conscious chapeau.

You May Not Like The 2019 BMW i8 If...

If you love the sound of a rumbling exhaust fed by 12 cylinders, you won’t be impressed by the i8’s less obnoxious operation. If you can forgo the green aspect, there’s more to like from a Corvette Z06 or Nissan GT-R, both of which cost significantly less than the i8.

What's New

The 2019 BMW i8 adds an open-air, 2-seat roadster to the lineup, bringing a bit more style to an already stylish car. The lithium-ion batteries are more powerful, and horsepower is up by 12 to 369. The i8’s electric range increases to 18 miles.

Interior Features

Despite the outlandish styling, the 2019 BMW i8 is surprisingly familiar inside, using the current BMW aesthetic, albeit in a swoopier manner than we’ve seen. Many of the materials are reusable, and blue accents and clear contrasts add to the futuristic motif. The front seats are comfortable, but (to help cut down on weight) they don't offer much in the way of adjustability. The coupe’s rear seats are kids-only, at best; the roadster deletes them entirely. The i ConnectedDrive service uses topography and traffic information to choose the most efficient navigation route, and a smartphone app offers remote control of air conditioning, door locks and other functions.

Exterior Features

With styling unlike anything else in the world of exotic-performance cars, the 2019 BMW i8 is as much a fashion statement as it is a thrill ride. The new roadster is even more stunning, with a power soft top that retracts in just 15 seconds. Both the coupe and roadster share the same wide and low stance, highlighted by uniquely styled LED or laser (yes, Dr. Evil, we said “laser”) headlights. The scissor-type doors negate the need for a B-pillar, opening upward to allow entry to the low-slung cabin. True to BMW’s engineering ethic, stylized features like the V-shaped cooling hood vent and stabilizing split rear wing are also highly functional.

Driving Impressions

In the world of exotic coupes, the 2019 BMW i8 stands alone. It can cruise solely on electric power at speeds up to 75 mph for 18 miles, at which point the turbocharged 3-cylinder gasoline engine kicks in to rocket the i8 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. While many cars are quicker, it’s the unrelenting way the i8 delivers its power that so takes our breath away. Compared to other exotics, the i8’s cabin is quieter than the Library of Congress at closing time, although the excellent harman/kardon audio system can quickly fill the void. BMW’s years of experience pays off in the i8’s handling, which is more dynamic and responsive than the Tesla Model S or Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. Even the i8’s electrically assisted steering is effortless and responsive, impressing most of our editors to the point where a number preferred it to a more traditional hydraulic setup.

Pricing Notes

This is an exotic, and it carries an exotic price tag. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2019 BMW i8 Coupe is about $148,500 including the $995 destination charge. The i8 Roadster starts around $164,300. Options can add more, so don't be surprised if your dream i8 crosses the $160,000-$175,000 barrier. Don't expect a lot of dickering at the dealer, but you could be surprised at how much the market has softened for a new i8, despite its limited production and high level of exclusivity. As for alternatives, there is the all-electric Tesla Model S. On the far end, a comparably equipped Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is $185,000 along with the $166,000 Audi R8 and $178,000 Audi R8 Spyder. Like its electrified rivals, the BMW i8 qualifies for state and federal tax credits. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the i8.

Notable Equipment

The lightweight BMW i8 for 2019 comes loaded. Standard features include navigation, leather-wrapped interior panels and upholstery, high-efficiency LED headlights, a fully digital instrument cluster, rain-sensing windshield wipers, front and rear parking sensors, 20-inch wheels and adaptive dampers plus adaptive cruise control that maintains a preset distance behind the vehicle ahead. The roadster adds a power-folding soft top. On the safety side, you get six airbags, BMW Assist with 24/7 emergency services, and a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell that could very well survive an anti-tank missile (don't test this, please).

Notable Options

As a low-volume exotic, there aren't a lot of options besides colors. The laser-beam headlights are worth the $6,300 price tag just so your inner Dr. Evil can brag about frikkin' lasers. Two “world” options include Tera World and Tera World Copper, both offering unique interior colors and accents. Otherwise there's more standard equipment including a full-color head-up display, a 360-degree camera system that provides a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle’s surroundings, and a pre-collision system.

Favorite Features


Using a lightweight carbon-fiber composite half the weight of steel yet equally as strong, the 2019 BMW i8 is able to offset the added weight of its huge lithium-ion battery pack. Even with its numerous lightweight components, the i8’s body holds up remarkably well in crash testing.


The 2019 BMW i8’s standard all-wheel-drive system not only helps with straight-line acceleration, it is the secret to the car’s unflappable cornering ability. The system automatically routes power to whatever wheel or wheels have the best grip, providing superior traction over any road condition.

Under the Hood

The 2019 BMW i8 Coupe and i8 Roadster are powered by a hybrid system comprising a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor and massive 11.6-kWh battery pack. The gasoline engine puts out 228 horsepower, but when combined with the electric motor, output rises to a healthy 369 horsepower. The i8 can run solely on electric power for a distance of 18 miles and can recharged in about three hours using a level 2 (220-volt) charger, or two and half hours with a DC Fast Charger.

1.5-liter turbocharged inline-3 + AC synchronous electric motor/generator

11.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

369 net horsepower

420 net lb-ft of torque

<span style="letter-spacing: 0px;">EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27 mpg combined; 69 MPGe combined city/highway

Editors' Notes

As hybrid cars go, the 2019 BMW i8 is about the most desirable one on the planet. Offered as a futuristic coupe or sleek roadster, the i8’s performance easily matches its stunning good looks. This feat is made all the more impressive considering the i8 employs not a massive engine with copious amounts of power, but instead a compact turbocharged 3-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor. Combined with the i8’s lightweight carbon-fiber-and-aluminum body, the engine’s 369 horsepower can rocket this exotic hybrid to 60-mph times just a tad short of such legends as the Acura NSX and Audi R8. Unlike most supercars, however, the i8 is a $150,000 green machine, with fuel-economy ratings that dwarf its closest rival.

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