Few would argue that the BMW i8 leads the pack of hybrid sports cars. However, the engineers in Munich and Leipzig know the competition is fierce and it's only a matter of time before it's neck and neck; with Audi, Tesla, Volkswagen and numerous other automakers vying for valuable market-share. Therefore, it's no surprise there are many major upgrades in both performance as well as convenience to the i8, which is set for release next spring.
We first got a feel for the BMW i8 back in 2014 with a drive around Rijswijk. Rumors of changes to various BMW parts prompted us to get a renewed experience in the i8, or at least as close to one as possible. An associate in Leipzig managed to get an hour with the most recent version of the i8. The report is that while several of the notable features and accessories of the fabulous BMW i8 remain intact for the coming rollout, many of the rumored changes are true as well. But change isn't always bad..
What new parts and features make BMW's 2018 i8 different from before? Most pleasantly welcomed is a boost in engine performance. Previously, the i8 clocked 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, but the latest tests show repeated results hitting 4.2 seconds. This is due partially to the intentional focus on fine-tuning the i8's engine right off the assembly line: combining a turbocharged, 3-cylinder motor with an electric motor to achieve more than the current model's 420hp. Its hybrid engine parts and drivetrain power all four wheels; and it gets 38 MPGe.
We also see some big performance improvements in other BMW parts: they've upgraded to performance brakes as well as adjusted and lowered the suspension. You'll feel a lot more in control of the vehicle, especially at higher speeds. These performance upgrades will no doubt tempt more drivers to reignite that initial surge towards the i8 we experienced three years ago.
Aside from improvements, it's yet to be seen how BMW has handled the common mechanical issues with the original version, such the infamous low-mileage driving belt issue. There's also certain to be new issues that develop and need to be addressed. Regardless, the longer the i8 model has been out, the more replacement parts will be available at stores like eEuroparts.com and the more variety you'll have in terms of performance, materials and cost.
Generally, with almost any automobile, more Genuine and OEM parts naturally become available over time as existing owners upgrade and even totaled vehicles get salvaged for the remaining quality parts. Aftermarket companies have now had time to start production on many core BMW parts that won't change (or only slightly). Next year could be a great year to jump on the i8 bandwagon!
The i8 weight is up by over 100 kilograms from the last model version. However, this was shown to not have any noticeable impact on its handling and performance. Our associate reporting on it says that it manages turns at speed beautifully and maintains the promised rate of acceleration, which both improvements align with the takeaways back in 2014.
In addition to the aforementioned performance upgrades, there has been some style updates to body parts and interior accessories.
Although this BMW's body style is indistinguishable up front from previous model years, the rear has been modified to include a vented panel instead of a read windshield.
Arguably the most interesting feature to be added to the i8 driving experience is the arrival of the new iDrive infotainment system. This update is believed to be an improvement in terms of safety and convenience as it's said to include gesture controls. Our associate reporting backs up these presumptions about the new interior features and accessories; the gesture controls worked effectively to adjust music, set navigation and take incoming calls.
Engineers are putting the final touches on the i8's customized BMW performance parts, hoping will solidify the i8's designation as best hybrid sports car. With plenty of time left until the i8 goes on sale, it's still anyone's guess how the final product will turn out. Stay tuned for the next update when we hear about more test drives in Munich and significant changes to the i8 (convertible model in the works!!).