2015 BMW i8 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Exceptional performance for a hybrid
  • exceptional fuel economy for a sports car
  • futuristic design.
  • Futuristic price
  • still can't match the even stronger performance of similarly priced non-hybrid performance cars.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$49,667 - $69,765

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Given that the 2015 BMW i8 is capable of sports car performance, miserly fuel economy and quick charge times, prepare to rethink your idea of what a hybrid can be.

Vehicle overview

Hearing the phrase "high-performance plug-in hybrid" would normally make about as much sense as "jumbo shrimp" or "rational and selfless politician." But the 2015 BMW i8 lends unquestionable credibility to that seeming oxymoron. Able to sprint to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph, this exotic, environmentally conscious sports machine also boasts a 76 MPGe EPA fuel economy rating. If driving this car is going green, then consider us card-carrying members of the tree-hugger's club.

This BMW's magic happens by way of a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline three-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. Working together, this dynamic duo makes 357 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and channels it to all four wheels. Running on electric power alone, the i8 can travel up to 15 miles and reach a top speed of 75 mph. When the gas engine kicks on, the i8 has anything but a supercar's appetite for gas as it earns a combined fuel economy rating of 28 mpg and extends the i8's total estimated driving to a generous 330 miles. Recharging the car's battery pack can take as little as 1.5 hours.

Also contributing to the 2015 BMW i8's high performance and fuel-saving capabilities is the car's lightweight construction. Aluminum, carbon fiber and thinner, chemically hardened glass are all employed in its manufacture. Indeed, despite all the hybrid hardware packed into the i8, it is pretty much the same weight and length as a 3 Series sedan. A 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution and low, centrally mounted battery pack promote finely balanced, agile handling to go along with the straight-line thrills.

With its low, sleek body styling and unique scissor-lift-style doors, the 2015 BMW i8 pretty much guarantees that you'll make a grand entrance (and exit). The downside is that getting into the car takes a bit of practice. Inside, the futuristic cockpit uses recycled materials and naturally treated leather. The tiny rear seats, however, are best considered as additional cargo space, which you'll likely need given the trunk's meager capacity.

Perhaps the only real rival to the 2015 BMW i8 is the similarly high-performing 2015 Tesla Model S. It's purely electric and has the accompanying pros and cons to go with it, but it is less expensive and has four doors and usable rear seats. If you decide to go strictly gas-powered, you may look across the showroom at BMW's "M" family of performance machinery, while other sporting choices include the tempting 2015 Porsche 911 lineup as well as the value-packed 2015 Chevrolet Corvette. But for the hybrid buyer seeking sexy styling as well as sizzling performance and admirable efficiency, the 2015 BMW i8 is a very desirable, if conspicuous, choice.

2015 BMW i8 models

The 2015 BMW i8 is a two-door, plug-in hybrid sports car with 2+2 seating. It comes in a single trim level.

Standard features include 20-inch wheels, adjustable suspension, LED exterior lighting (headlights, foglights, running lights and taillights), automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear park assist, an overhead camera view system, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, power front seats, heated front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping and leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, memory settings and a head-up display.

Other standard electronics features include a navigation system, BMW's iDrive electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, BMW Assist, Internet accessibility and a Harman Kardon sound system with an iPod/USB interface, satellite radio and HD radio. Also included are BMW Apps (selected smartphone apps integration) and BMW Remote Services (which allows Apple and Android users to lock the car remotely and turn on the climate control, among various other tasks).

There are three option packages available, known as Worlds. Giga World includes turbine-style wheels and expanded, perforated leather upholstery. Tera World features a choice of the standard or turbine-style wheels and special cloth and leather upholstery. Pure Impulse World includes black brake calipers, a choice of the standard or turbine wheels and a variety of unique interior trim and materials upgrades, including a leather engine cover.

2015 Highlights

For 2015, the BMW i8 is unchanged.

Performance & mpg

As a plug-in hybrid, the i8 employs a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline three-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The gas engine drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, while the electric motor powers the front wheels through a two-speed automatic. When working together, the two combine to provide 357 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque and all-wheel drive.

The battery pack can be fully recharged at home through a standard 120-volt garage outlet in about 3.5 hours. Upgrade to a 240-volt charger (or visit a public station) and you can trim that down to about 1.5 hours.

During Edmunds testing, a European-spec i8 sprinted from zero to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. According to the EPA, the i8 can travel 15 miles on electric power alone. After that, the gas engine comes into play and earns a combined (city/highway) fuel economy rating of 28 mpg, while the total driving range is estimated at 330 miles. The EPA also rates the i8 at 76 MPGe factoring in both gas and electric power efficiency.


The BMW i8 comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard are BMW Assist emergency communications (includes automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance) as well as parking sensors and an around-car view camera system.

At the Edmunds test track, the i8 came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet.


Around town, the 2015 BMW i8 feels pretty normal. The accelerator is smooth and linear while the brake pedal's action is progressive and natural, without the hardness or "wooden" character of other regenerative braking systems. The hybrid powertrain likely won't overwhelm you with acceleration, but it also never feels winded, and the electric motor's torque covers nicely for the small turbocharged engine as the latter winds up to deliver its power contribution. You'll also notice the unique sound of the i8 while driving, which is no accident. In EV mode, it's eerily silent except for the keening sound of the electric motor and regenerative brakes. Once the engine comes into play, however, an electronic noise actuator under the rear deck lid combines with specially designed sounds emitted from the stereo's rear speakers (whether it's switched on or not). In some ways, it's the opposite of active noise cancellation, but the result is a fantastic case of augmented reality that sounds terrific.

The i8 also delivers stellar handling thanks to its 50/50 weight distribution, a low, centrally mounted battery pack and dual powertrains that essentially make the i8 an all-wheel-drive performance car. The adjustable suspension allows one to tailor the car's handling and ride dynamics to their liking. The base setting is only slightly firm in town, but Sport crosses the line at city speeds. Push the car hard in the sort of driving Sport was intended for, however, and this firmer setting comes into its own, absorbing large bumps and small ripples with apparent ease while keeping the car stable around turns.


Getting into the i8 requires a bit of choreography once the scissor door is swung up and away. You'll have to step over a high sill, so the best way to get in is to sit on the sill, swing a leg over, allow your backside to slip into the seat and then follow with the other leg. It's not hard once you master the move, but you'll want to duck under the bottom edge of the door at the same time.

Once inside the i8, you'll find a multi-tiered and layered cockpit design that uses recycled materials and naturally treated leather for upholstery and panel surfaces. The power seats offer good support and long-distance comfort, and even taller drivers will have headroom to spare. The center stack is canted toward the driver, putting everything close at hand.

The shifter and various mode switches are close by, too, and each selection changes the background color and meter design of the main instrument pod. The dials turn blue in EV mode; Sport is red and Comfort is gray. None of them is particularly attractive or easy to read, though, because the numbers are small, the instrument needles are skinny and neither contrasts strongly enough with the background. As such, one will likely end up using the head-up display instead.

Despite the "2+2" moniker, this is essentially a two-seater, as those rear seats are tiny with scant headroom, and as such are best considered auxiliary luggage space. You'll need it, too, since the trunk is rated at a paltry 5.4 cubic feet.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2015 BMW i8.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Driving the Future
Frank O'Donnell,05/29/2017
2dr Coupe AWD (1.5L 3cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 6A)
Being that there is only one other consumer review of the 2015 i8, that must mean all the other owners are trying to keep their purchase a secret or are too busy out driving their cars. Mileage: 24,7000. I own a 1991 Acura NSX and thought that I would keep it for the rest of my life. However, along comes 2017 and the price of the 2014 and 2015 BMW i8 models drops under 100k. I needed a new daily driver to replace my 2008 Audi TT and not finding anything better, I got the idea to "just look and see" if there was a car that combined the driving excitement of both my cars. I test drove a 2011 Audi R8 (no storage space) and went to test drive the BMW Z-4. While there, the BMW dealership had just got in a used, 2015 i8. Beautiful exterior styling, a back seat for storage space and a luscious interior. Got behind the wheel, started driving and knew it was something very special before I even drove off the lot. Great handling, smooth ride (for 20" tires), cutting-edge technology, hybrid electric/gas technology for improved gas mileage and yes; gull-wing doors. Off the chart coolness. This car checks ALL the boxes. People that know cars, know why the original NSX is so special: lightness, smooth power, sharp steering response, visibility, reliability and everyday usability. The BMW is this generation's new NSX. UPDATE: I have now owned the car for 12 months. I had two re-occurring problems. First, I could not always get the fuel door to open when I needed to fill up with gasoline; and second, my air conditioner would not cycle on completely after the car had been driven, parked and then restarted. Being that the car has only been in production for three years and there are so few of them around, not much has been published about mechanical problems by other owners on the various blogs. After five trips to the dealer service department, it turned out that I had two separate problems with the release of the fuel filler door. The fuel pressure sensor was defective and replaced on visit #3. On visit #5, a very attentive mechanic at BMW Pleasant Grove (Utah) did testing and concluded that a second sensor, located inside the fuel pump was also faulty. He replaced the fuel pump and that problem was finally resolved. A/C now seems to work fine. The A/C system controls are very complicated as is the programming system for the radio presets.
Outstanding machine!
philip wirtenberg,04/20/2016
2dr Coupe AWD (1.5L 3cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 6A)
Outstanding machine...fun / comfortable to drive...great looks Got an outstanding lease deal....otherwise pricey

More about the 2015 BMW i8

Used 2015 BMW i8 Overview

The Used 2015 BMW i8 is offered in the following submodels: i8 Coupe. Available styles include 2dr Coupe AWD (1.5L 3cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2015 BMW i8?

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Which used 2015 BMW i8s are available in my area?

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Find a used BMW i8 for sale - 1 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $11,389.

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Should I lease or buy a 2015 BMW i8?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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