10 things we learned about the BMW i8, with test numbers
The i8’s Active Sound Management—synthetic engine noises piped into the cabin—is obvious.
The 6-speed automatic is awesome; shift quality is near-perfect in regular driving. In Launch Control (which is available only in Dynamic Traction Control mode, not when traction control is fully turned off), the upshifts are harsher than many dual clutch transmissions. Launch Control also only knocked 0.1 or so off the 0-60 time. The 5-60 mph rolling-start time was less impressive than I expected from a partial EV, adding 1.1 seconds to the run. For that, you can blame the three-cylinder engine's significant turbo lag.
Braking performance felt strong, but the numbers are only average.
The steering is accurate but doesn’t transmit much, if any, road feel. Sport mode reduces the electric assist, which gives more natural weighting. And that’s the only way to get a tachometer on the all-LCD gauge display. (And then it turns counter-clockwise, Aston Martin-style, and is hard to read due to its red color.) Unfortunately, Sport Mode also unnecessarily stiffens the ride, locks out 6th gear unless you engage it manually, and prevents the engine from turning off. That’s just silly—that should be a Sport Plus mode. BMW needs a configurable Sport mode like the M-sport cars get; or better yet, individual adjustments with memory buttons like M-cars get.