The i8’s interior comes with all the plush materials you’d expect from a futuristic supercar, but it’s let down by knobs and switches borrowed from much cheaper BMW cars
The BMW i8 interior looks a little more restrained than its bonkers exterior. Sure, you get plenty of brushed aluminium trims on the dashboard and doors, lashings of supple leather and two high-resolution digital displays as standard, but it doesn’t feel quite as special as the sportier cabin you get in an Audi R8.
Look closely at the gear lever, the rotary iDrive controller and some switches on the dashboard and you’ll notice they look almost identical to what you get in a 1 Series – not exactly what you want from supercar that costs more than £100,000…
Thankfully, the i8’s pinstriped steering wheel doesn’t appear on any other BMWs, and you get plenty of high-tech equipment as standard to help sweeten the deal. All models come with interior mood lighting, dual 8.8-inch digital displays and your choice of white or black leather seats as standard as part of the Carpo design pack. This also brings with it leather door trims, metal sill covers and a black leather dashboard.
If that sounds a little staid, you can get bright orange leather and metallic black dashboard trims as part of the Accaro design pack, or a combination of dark brown and white leather trims in models with the Halo design pack. Whichever option you choose, you can further spruce the i8’s cabin up with some carbon fibre trims on the dashboard, doors and centre console, but it’ll cost you a hefty amount.
You can’t help but feel BMW could have been a little wilder with the i8’s interior – it all feels a bit too predictable for a seriously expensive, and otherwise futuristic, supercar
All BMW i8s come with an 8.8-inch infotainment screen, but it sticks out like a sore thumb on the otherwise swooping, sporty dashboard. Thankfully, it’s very easy to glance at quickly as you’re driving.
The rotary dial controller on the centre console makes it a doddle to scroll through the system’s various menus when you’re driving and you get a set of physical shortcut buttons to let you quickly skip between key features without taking your eyes off the road. As a result, it’s leagues ahead of the Honda NSX’s infuriating touchscreen in terms of usability.
Satellite navigation comes as standard, and you can even enter letters of a postcode by writing them on the touchpad on top of the rotary controller. This feels a little odd at first – especially if you’re right-handed – but it works impressively well and takes much less time to enter an address than using a conventional on-screen keyboard. Once you’ve programmed the sat nav, it delivers clear, concise directions using bright, easy-to-read maps.
Unlike some other BMWs, the i8 gets a digital driver’s display instead of conventional analogue dials as standard. This 8.8-inch screen works alongside a head-up-display system to give you all the information you need – including your speed, remaining battery charge and upcoming sat-nav directions – right in your eye line.
Unfortunately, the display isn’t quite as large as the 12.3-inch unit you get in the new BMW 5 Series and it can’t match the crips graphics you get on the Audi R8’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit system.
Another slight fly in the i8’s ointment is the fact that you can’t get it with Android Auto smartphone mirroring and Apple CarPlay costs extra. This would be fine in an affordable sports car, but in a luxurious supercar, it feels very miserly indeed. At least you get a punchy Harman Kardon stereo as standard.