Open an i8’s doors and you’re greeted by a cabin that is at once extremely beautiful yet, if you’re used to seeing inside BMWs, reassuringly familiar. Just as it should be, then: special yet also entirely usable.
Pleasingly finished, high-grade materials are presented in an interesting, slightly futuristic fashion. Blue – the motor industry’s eco colour of choice – features here and there, but for the most part BMW’s traditional materials abound. One of our photographers thought it a pity that the bold material choices of the BMW i3’s interior hadn’t been continued here, but by and large our testers felt it spot on.
The driving position and controls are sited entirely as you’d expect them to be on a BMW sports car or GT. You can sit long and low, with a good wheel extending out towards you and backed with classy paddles.
The front passenger fares equally well. The window line is high, so it’s snug and secure rather than airy. The i8 also joins the Lotus Evora as being the only cars on sale that are both mid-engined with +2 rear seats. It’s unusual because there’s only so much space in the wheelbase behind the front seats, but BMW has done a decent job. You can fit nippers back there, but really it’s a three-seater, as a tall adult driving all but eliminates rear legroom on that side.Behind all of that lies a 154-litre boot, nine litres larger than a Porsche 911’s.
Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes climate control, cruise control with a braking function, DAB radio, a heads-up display, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, typre pressure monitoring, variable damper control, electrically adjusted and heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors and an 8.8-inch media system display.
BMW's latest-generation iDrive underpins the way the entertainment and information systems work in the i8 but, as with the i3, there are a few additional features to work around. Fortunately the system is so intuitive that you don't have to churn through the handbook to fathom it – once you're used to where a few mission-critical screens lie, that is.
One of our preferred ones shows the current level of battery charge, but there are myriad ways of seeing what the powertrain is up to. BMW's navigation remains best in class for telling you where traffic queues are and by how much you'll be delayed.