There are some reports swirling around the interwebs about BMW ceasing production on the i8 in just a few months. Most of the reports claim that the BMW i8 will die off by April of this year. While that isn’t confirmed as of yet, it’s most likely accurate. Autocar even reported that UK dealers are telling customers that if they want a BMW i8, they need to put their order in by the end of February. So the end is nigh.
Which is actually a bit sad. The BMW i8 is a deeply flawed car, there’s no two ways about it, but it’s a charming car, an interesting car and one that is hard not to like. It’s a car that seems to have so much potential, yet fails to deliver on most of it and yet it’s one that we love anyway. So despite its flaws, we’re going to be sad to see it go.
I still remember driving the BMW i8 for the first time. It was almost two years ago and yet I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a BMW i8 Roadster, in grey over orange leather, and despite the fact that there were countless things to complain about, it was a car I loved driving for the week. It’s such a fun, light-hearted, silly car that makes people smile wherever it goes. Including the driver.
Though, the way it goes about creating smiles is different than every other sports car in its price range. Compared to other cars you can get for the money, the BMW i8 is downright slow. It also sounds like a hair-drying filled with marbles and most of that noise is fake anyway, it’s too cramped on the inside, it doesn’t handle as well as you might think and, despite being a three-cylinder plug-in hybrid, lacks a realistically useful electric range. It also seems to contradict itself, as its hybrid nature causes it to be a lackluster sports car and its hybrid tech isn’t even good enough to make that trade off. So how could it charm anyone?
For starters, just look at it. We often forget about just how important a car’s looks are. The BMW i8 is a ridiculous looking car in the best of ways. It doesn’t look like something from this world, with its futuristic spaceship styling. While I had Lamborghinis as bedroom wall posters, many youths of today have i8 posters and there’s good reason for that. It’s also surprisingly quick for such a small engine and electric powertrain. While it’s slow compared to its rivals, it’s far quick enough to be engaging.
However, the absolute best aspect of the i8 only comes in one version of the car. The open-top pure-EV driving of the BMW i8 Roadster is absolutely delightful. On the weekends, I found myself running out in the morning to get bagels, as early as I could rise, just so I could drive around with the top down in complete silence, with no other cars on the road to ruin it. There’s something lovely about driving around in a low-slung sports car, in complete silence, sans roof. The lack of engine or exhaust noise makes you feel like you’re apart of the entire environment and it’s just so nice. In an age with obnoxious exhausts and artificial engine pops and burbles, the i8’s drop-top silence was and is refreshing.
We don’t know what’s next for the i8; will it return as a pure BEV, will it come back with a bigger engine and more power or will it remain in the darkness forever. We aren’t sure. But what we do know is that the i8 should be remembered, and appreciated for what it was — an ambitious sports car that, while deeply flawed, was incredibly charming.