The i8 still feels ahead of its time in many ways. If you’re in need of further evidence of just how future-proof the design of the performance hybrid was when it hit the market, look to the numerous accolades it has accumulated over the years. Since it went on sale in 2014, the BMW i8—and now the i8 roadster—have managed to collect the engine (and powertrain) of the year award for every model year that it has been available. That’s five years running, for those keeping score, and although the categories in which the i8 has been classified have changed over time, it has managed to best its competitors every year running.
This year, facing stiff competition that has been developed while the i8 has been available, the i8 and i8 roadster came out on top once again, securing the top spot in a new category for 2019: Best Hybrid Powertrain. Back in 2014, when the i8 was fresh on the market, it was recognized as having the best new engine, and with awards collected every year since, the innovative model holds true to BMW originally marketing it as the sports car of the future.
Thanks to a semi-modular design, the i8 has also been continuously upgraded over the years, and the latest version is more powerful than ever. In addition to a high-strung—and heavily boosted—inline three sitting behind the cabin that’s good for 230 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, there’s also the eDrive electric motor that adds 141 horsepower and 184 pound-feet to the equation. In total, it makes for over 360 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, and an exclusively electric range of 34 miles. BMW lists a factory zero-to-60 time of just 4.4 seconds, and incredible fuel economy of nearly 160 mpg for the coupe and 140 for the roadster. (Good luck trying to get that in the real world.)
While the revolutionary technology in the i8 and i3 has been democratized throughout the BMW Group Electrified lineup, which is set to expand every year going forward for a goal of 25 models by 2025, BMW is no stranger to these kinds of awards. BMW aficionados are often keen to rattle off the recognition received by some of the great naturally aspirated BMW engines, such as the S54 and S62, for example. In total, brands that fall under the BMW Group umbrella have accrued a total of 70 awards for the powertrains of various models, both in their category and overall.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]