Review: 2016 BMW i8

– Cleveland, Ohio

Back to the Future II gave us a sneak peek at how far cars would come in thirty years, and I can't tell you how disappointed I am that reality hasn't lived up to the imagination of Robert Zemeckis. Cars still can't hover, and none today look as cool as the ones in the movie did when I first saw it back in 1989. Except the 2016 BMW i8. Its design would make Biff Tannen’s grandson do a double-take, and while it can't hover, the i8’s sophisticated plug-in hybrid powertrain that gives gasoline and electrons their own axles to power is impressive enough to earn it free parking on Hill Valley’s town square.

2016 BMW i8
2016 BMW i8


Pros

  • The i8 is a BMW, which endows it with the brand’s impressive trait of offering a wide range of driving personalities in one car. In Comfort mode, the i8 rides smoothly, runs quietly, and feels just like a luxury coupe. In Eco Pro, it’s Prius-like in its stinginess (I saw fuel economy in the 40+ mpg range after its 13-mile-or-so electric range was depleted). And in Sport mode when the tiny, turbocharged three-cylinder engine is always on, everything gets tighter, faster, and louder. Just not enough to be called a supercar. Plus, driving in Sport mode works to recharge the battery, so even in its most dynamic setting, an ulterior motive of efficiency is still present.
  • Supercar credentials or no, I had so much fun driving the i8 in Sport mode. It’s athletic enough to be great fun on public roads without breaking the law (too much), and certain qualities ...