BMW i8 (2014-2020) review - Practicality, comfort and boot space
Clearly not a car designed for practicality, the i8 has a tiny boot and rear seats, but front occupants will be impressed
This is not a car purchased with practicality concerns in mind, but the BMW i8 does a far better job of being spacious and comfortable that you might imagine.
That said, actually getting into the car can prove slightly problematic at times – the i8’s unusually hinged doors aren’t the most practical. In fact, you’ll occasionally find yourself in a mild panic having returned to your i8 to find someone’s parked especially close to it, wondering whether you’ll actually be able to get in. But the drama that they add to proceedings is definitely a price worth paying.
Even parked in an empty car park, getting in and out requires a little contortion compared to a regular car, due to the combination of the hinge and how low the seats are set, but you’ll soon get used to it.
Once you’re inside, the i8 feels surprisingly spacious from the front, and feels especially so if the leather trim is specified in a light colour. For the driver, this is a very easy car to adapt to, with a superbly adjustable yet always low-slung driving position and very comfortable chairs.
In fact, on the motorway, the combination of supple suspension (out of Sport mode), very little wind noise and light steering makes the i8 a very comfortable, relaxing motorway car – certainly far more so than a Porsche 911.
An impressive bonus of i8 ownership is BMW’s offer of lending you a traditional BMW for longer journeys or family holidays. The scheme involves owners being handed an annual allocation of points that can be redeemed against other cars in the brand’s line-up. That certainly makes it a more reasonable ownership proposition (though of course doesn’t solve the problem of impracticality on a day-to-day basis, should that matter).
The i8 has the dramatic dimensions of a supercar – fantastically low, and wide. The nearest thing to it on the road is the Audi R8. The i8 is that bit more striking due to its wedge-like bonnet and is also a little taller than the Audi but it’s an almost identical width.
There are visibility compromises when you sit this low in a car this wide, with such a shallow glasshouse (especially rearward) but in fact the i8 is surprisingly easy to place on the road. You shouldn’t have undue trouble judging where the corners are. It’s the rear three-quarter view that proves most problematic, but all it means is that extra care should be taken when switching lanes.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
The front two i8 passengers will have no problem getting comfortable, because this car is as ergonomically sound as can be. There’s plenty of head- and legroom and a range of adjustment for the seats and steering wheel.
It’s supposedly a 2+2 but you only get a pair of seriously upright, legroom-limited seats in the back – no one will thank you for squeezing them in there for a long journey. There’s certainly no room for a rear-facing child seat in the back, although children aged roughly 5-10 should find the seats a good size for them – so that’s your sweet spot if you’re a family buyer looking for the ultimate school run weapon.
You won't have that option with the i8 Roadster unfortunately, as the addition of the folding roof necessitates the removal of the rear seats. Still, BMW has fitted additional luggage storage to make use of what space remains behind the front seats.
There is a boot under the glass hatch at the rear, but it’s cramped. You can fit a couple of weekend bags in, but don’t expect to be carting around large suitcases - unless you specify the bespoke Louis Vuitton luggage set from the options list, that is.
BMW quotes a 154-litre boot space, which is about half a Ford Fiesta’s, for reference, and the rear seats don’t fold. In reality you can just about squeeze a few days’ shopping in the boot, but that’s all.
In this review
- 1BMW i8 (2014-2020) reviewIt’s hardly cheap to buy, but the plug-in hybrid BMW i8 offers performance and efficiency
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe hybrid setup isn’t necessarily original, but this is the most exciting one there’s ever been – the i8 drives like a supercar
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsYou’ll never match the i8’s claimed mpg figure in the real world, but you’ll still enjoy small car running costs – mostly
- 4Interior, design and technologyFantastically futuristic and beautifully designed, the BMW nonetheless uses familiar parts and technology
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot space - currently readingClearly not a car designed for practicality, the i8 has a tiny boot and rear seats, but front occupants will be impressed
- 6Reliability and SafetyNot tested by Euro NCAP but the technology and construction make this a very safe car, while BMW parts offer reliability