Typically, a mid-cycle refresh for a car is designed to update a few of its design features that are starting to age. After a car debuts, competitors will naturally debut their own cars, thus making the first car seem a bit old by comparison. So mid-cycle refresh help a slightly older car feel more modern. However, the BMW i8 looks like it’s from such a distant future that BMW could have held onto it for twenty years before releasing it and it’d still look futuristic.
The i8 still looks like nothing else on the road, even almost four years after its initial launch. So it wasn’t really in need of a mid-cycle refresh. Still, BMW doesn’t hold its refresh schedule for any car. Dubbed LCI (Life Cycle Impulse in BMW speak), the BMW i8 has now been refreshed, albeit very slightly.
From the outside, changes to the BMW i8 have been kept to a minimum. After all, don’t fix what ain’t broken, right? There are ever-so-slightly new headlights that feature more rectangular bulbs inside the housings, a new air shutter on the hood, new wheels and a “Coupe” emblem on the C-pillar. The changes are minimal but they actually make it look sportier, more aggressive than before. The wheels are probably the most noticeable difference but the air shutter looks good, too. As previously stated, the changes are minimal but the car does look a bit better.
Which is actually sort of impressive in its own right. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the BMW i8 as one of the most interesting and exciting looking cars in the history of the automobile. So trying to change and improve on such a design without ruining it is a difficult task.
Also interesting, the new wheels do more than just look good, they’re actually 2.2 lbs lighter than the lightest wheel previously offered by the i8. So that will reduce unsprung rotational mass, which will help handling and dynamics a smidge.
Two new color schemes have been added to the newly refreshed BMW i8. E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic will now be offered, both sporting Frozen Grey accents. The BMW i8 Coupe seen here is wearing Donington Grey and it looks quite good. Typically, the i8 looks best in interesting colors, rather than black, white or grey, thanks to its wild design. However, this grey looks good and makes the i8 look sporty.
On the inside, the only real additions are the Tera World Copper interior trim, featuring cloth/leather upholstery in an Amido/E-Copper color scheme, and BMW’s new iDrive system. The cabin was really the only place the i8 seemed trivial, as it really didn’t look that much different than a standard BMW. That remains true, even after the updated iDrive system and new colors.
As far as power and performance goes, the new BMW i8 Coupe only gets a bit more power and it stems from its electric motor. The 1.5 liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine remains the same, making 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. But the electric motor that powers the front wheels has received a small power bump, so it now makes 141 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. That comes from the upgraded battery, which now sports a capacity of 11.6 kWh, up from 7.1 kWh. With such a small increase in power, the post-LCI BMW i8 still accelerates from 0-60 mph in about 4.2 seconds. So it’s not really any quicker than before.
BMW didn’t need to do anything to keep the i8 fresh. It was already one of the freshest and most exciting looking cars on the road. However, the subtle changes to the plug-in hybrid sports car are welcome, as they make it look a bit more aggressive, offer more colors and give it just a touch more power. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.