BMW i8 kick-started the hybrid sports car as we know it
BMW’s iconic hybrid sports car takes centre stage this week
BMW I8, £46,995
Eight years after the BMW i8 first went on sale, it’s still as eye-catching as ever. It was the second model to appear under the firm’s i sub-brand, following the BMW i3. Both introduced class-leading electrified technology, but while the i3 is the more practical choice as a daily driver, you could also make a case for the stunning-looking i8 being your everyday car.
It isn’t just the model’s dramatic exterior styling that offers a wow factor. The i8’s powertrain, innovative when launched, provides a delicious combination of pace, fuel economy and grand touring capabilities.
There’s no fruity V6. No stonking great V8. Instead, a modest 228bhp three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine drives the rear wheels, while a 129bhp electric motor supplies power to the front. It sprints from 0-62mph in 4.4sec – faster than a Jaguar F-Type V6 S and a Porsche 911 3.4 – with a top speed limited to 155mph.
A 7.1kWh battery on early cars, meanwhile, offers up to 23 miles of all-electric range. This was upgraded to a 11.6kWh battery in 2018, increasing that figure to 34 miles.
Despite having the image and speed of an out-and-out sports car, the i8’s qualities more closely resemble those of a grand tourer. It is certainly rapid, and its comfort levels mean it’s great for cruising, but the handling doesn’t quite have the sheer incisiveness of a true sports car.
The economy figures underscore its potential as a GT. Under the now-defunct NEDC test cycle, BMW claimed 149.8mpg. Our road testers, meanwhile, recorded a very respectable 50mpg during a standard touring test.
The i8 is also well equipped. Standard kit included cruise control with automatic braking, climate control, variable damper control, heated electric seats, front and rear parking sensors and a head-up display.
It commanded a £103,930 starting price back in 2014, but you can pick one up for almost half of that today. We found a 2015 i8 for £48,995. It’s a two-owner car with a full service history, all carried out at BMW dealerships. Plus, it has driven only 13,000 miles – around 25,000 fewer than the market average.
Verdict: Take it
Citroen C-Zero, £5995: The C-Zero is an electric city car that first went on sale in 2012. It is basically a rebadged Mitsubishi i-MiEV and its original price was a wallet-wrenching £26,216. Even though it is available for a fraction of that today, we still think £5995 is too expensive for a car with a 93-mile range, a measly 66bhp and a 0-62mph time of 15.9sec.
Verdict: Leave it
Volkswagen Golf R, £18,495: This 2015, one-owner Golf R stands out for several reasons, including the fact that it is totally unmodified, its owner says, apart from some tinted front windows. The car has done 60,000 miles and has some decent optional equipment, including full-leather upholstery and an upgraded sat-nav. Add in a full service history and you’ve got one of the best daily drivers around.
Verdict: Take it
Mercedes-Benz C250 CDi, £7500: A Mercedes C-Class with only 65,000 miles on the clock for just £7500? You might think it’s too good to be true, and further reading will show this 2012 car has been involved in a Category S incident. That means it suffered structural damage to its crumple zones or its chassis. Further investigation is essential before you set your heart on buying it.
Verdict: Leave it