2014 Design of the Year: 2014 BMW i8

Charlie Magee
2014 bmw i8

It came with a really clumsy name -- Vision EfficientDynamics -- and a very complicated surface design with entirely too many unrealistic show-car details (few really want to travel in a glass-sided car), but we and many of the industry's top designers were greatly impressed by BMW's 2009 Frankfurt show concept car. Four years later, with a simple Apple-like name -- i8 -- and simplified (but definitely not Apple-like) surfaces, BMW's extreme expression of a possible and probable future for the automobile is a brilliant reality.

Not a single line or surface remains exactly as it was on the concept car, and the putative three-cylinder diesel engine has become a gasoline-fueled three -- effectively half of BMW's classic 3.0-liter in-line six -- that's even better for the environment, but BMW has managed to retain all the spirit and sense of the show car's Blade Runner futurism in something we can buy and drive in 2014. The single design element we most appreciated when the concept appeared, its striking centerline profile, remains and is little changed. While various Formula 1–style aerodynamic guides have been slightly rationalized, they were not eliminated. The concept's computed 0.22 coefficient of drag is now 0.26, the taillights are part of the air channel rather than being hung in the flux through that channel, and, of course, the once-transparent sides are properly opaque. The windshield is normally proportioned, stopping at the header bar and not continuing back into the roof.

Some show-car details remain: it looks to be just as difficult to get into the rear seats with the rising doorsill line, and the doors still open oddly, swinging up and forward. However, things like the radiator outlet on the hood are transformed, now appearing to be an inlet. The center front bumper protrudes as a sort of chin, offering a lot more parking protection, the rationalization clearly necessary in the translation from showpiece to practical product. Both front and rear overhangs are considerably longer, one presumes for crash-energy absorption.

In Germany, the color blue represents the same kind of environmentally desirable future that green does for us. The swaths of blue color on the sides of the Vision concept are still there but have been tempered, covering less of the i8's surface area, and look really nice in combination with all the colors we've seen on early i8s. Keeping that show-car element is both bold and commercially clever, we think.

The production i8 interior is not a science-fiction presentation, as one might have expected. Instead, it is, in the purest BMW tradition, driver-focused and quite thoroughly worked out for function. There are a lot of sweeping curved lines, perhaps just a few too many for complete harmony. A band under the instrument cluster sweeps up and over the top of the complex molding encompassing the glare shield, establishing a separate space for the upright navigation and information screen, and leaves us with a number of differently shaped air-conditioning outlets and no sense of orderliness.

It has been almost six decades since the world market was offered a fully realized "car of the future," available to anyone holding the modest sum requested. That was the Citroën DS19, which embodied many of the then-radical features that have become commonplace now. We see the i8 as the contemporary equivalent of that milestone car. The $136,625 BMW represents the kind of luxury/performance vehicle that will be quite common at all price levels in 2074. It sets a new standard for everyday automobiles and is much less extreme in both cost and performance than LaFerrari and the Porsche 918, but it is just as efficient and dazzling in its capabilities.

For all of its unexpected characteristics, its startling yet elegant shape, its retention of the genetic elements that made BMWs "ultimate driving machines," with optimism and enthusiasm, we declare the BMW i8 Automobile Magazine's 2014 Design of the Year.

Yekta Yass
very cool
Nasiru Isra'il Sura'ila
hope it will be suitable for the nigerian's road
Unoü Unoû
ma babe
Ron Alder W
really, really good
Kenneth Herbert
The rear end is way too busy and the overwrought surface breaks make it look unfinished. I can't even imagine how one washes the multilayered aspects. (I know the people who own these kinds of cars don't typically wash their own cars, but someone does.) There are some nice style elements to it, but overall, it doesn't wow me like it does the writers.
My DrEaM CaR
cars lover must visit this page and like it for ur updation ~~>> https://www.facebook.com/MyDremCar
Manny Gutierrez
two (y) (y)
Rafi Pradipa
I saw That car in mission immposible ghost protocol
TheClassicCarFactory
BMW spent over $3BILLION US to develop this and the i3. That's before the cost of the first screw and bolt are readied for assembly. The gorgeous 8 Series e31 only sold 7000 units in the US and 30,000 worldwide: BMW THOUGHT it would sell TEN TIMES that amount. At least the E31 was able to accept different displacements; the i8 is stuck with the current configuration.This has the potential to be an enormous financial disaster for BMW. Let's hope it doesn't tank them.
S.g. Karthikeyan
good aerodynamic shape
Kamal Sehgal
i likebmw car
Taufiq Norhizam
nice and beautiful car...
jmccool6969
Not too bad in the looks department, But those door have got to go. Hard to park with out them hitting something. Oh, well, what's the difference, it's just a design study which no one could ever afford if it did get built.
OMEGATALON
This sort of reminds me of Cadillac's ELR which is a leather clad 2-door coupe built around Chevy's Volt as the BMW i8 proves that high-efficiency can be sexy; but I guess it'll be up to Toyota to merge their old MR2 design with the Prius so that we can have a super-efficient plug-in hybrid that's sexy, fun to drive and cost under $40K.
Abhinav Dubey
brilliantly amaze..:)
BigBlock45
Mmm, this car is a no-go for my garage!  Three cylinders? Hybrid? NOT!  Rear end is a thin copy of the Corvette C7. The front end is also C7 but with a big bumper and upright BMW kidney grill.  Body is waaaay too busy with creases, scallops, humps and bulges!  It's making a statement its engine can't back up.  Don't get me wrong, I like BMWs.... just not impressed with this one... especially as a "personal car".  If I want a powerful electric car, I'd buy the Tesla Model S -- which at last report outguns the BMW M5 and doesn't use gasoline.  (Yeah, I know Tesla's have caught fire... but any car will catch fire if you hit it just right or submerge it in salt water.) 
MiTesh GoHel
awsm dsing,,,
Kyree S. Williams
I love that BMW was able to make this car efficient without spoiling the design. If you have $150,000 and are in the market for a supercar, it doesn't get any better than this. That gentleman parked next to you at the country club may have an Aston Martin Vantage or a Porsche 911 Whatever, but all eyes will be on your i8. Stunning! :P
Adarsh Sen
Amazing design
Shajahan Khan
ever green bmw
Krishna Prasad
This is not a car this is my life
Alireza Alizade
wow
Catchy Cars
Very sporty looking
Rajesh Singh Bisht
Mast............
Evwon Sudhanshu Dhuliya
sexy
Nijan Than
I want this
Sharath Shettigar
sexy
Jose Alberto Morales Ortiz
Por fin se reivindicaron!
Mehul Kamdar
Waiting for it to go on sale. I will buy one.
Vinay Saini
super
TwinMax Hui
Annie Tan Annie new bmw↖(^ω^)↗
Crystal N Walter Brewer
Maybe I should ask for this for my anniversary lol
Rick Reny
The body is a bit too busy for me, but i do like the styling language and surfacing details. Hopefully this represents a bold new direction for BMW design- love the new more elongated kidney grill.
Whatnow
For once a production model that looks better than the concept.
Leo Perez
This is not an AUDI???
Nasser Bennani
Bmw R8 not I8
Tony Guglielminetti
Anthony Boutin .. Beautiful
Rash Yash
Aston + audi r8 = bmw i8
Christian Schmidt
awesome design
Nãveeñ Ýuvi Eãçhur
sprb......
Vinod Kumar Kudmetha
my dream dis car...
Faizan Khan
sensational car...
Clarence Rogers
I agree! Beautiful car.
Cecilia Dogarescu
Superba
percynjpn
@Rick Reny The body is a bit too busy for me

That's exactly what I thought; considering just the exterior design, I think the Honda NSX design is far more pure and elegant.

buyer's guide

Find vehicle reviews, photos, & pricing

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price

subscribe

new cars

Read Related Articles

TO TOP