Home » You Can Buy A BMW i8 With Billionaire Doors For The Price Of A Toyota Sienna Minivan

You Can Buy A BMW i8 With Billionaire Doors For The Price Of A Toyota Sienna Minivan

2015 Bmw I8 Gg Ts Russh
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Let’s say you want to buy the most ostentatious semi-recent car possible for under $50,000. What would it be? The new Nissan Z may seem like a good bet, as would a C7 Corvette, as would a second-hand Porsche Panamera. All three of those cars are rolling signs that you either make good money or aren’t to be trusted with an inheritance. However, they all pale in comparison to the BMW i8. Why? Well, do any of those cars have billionaire doors?

The BMW i8 was a weird car. I mean, a three-cylinder electrified mid-engined sports coupe with doors that go up? That’s the sort of thing you’d imagine Japan would’ve eventually produced if the bubble never popped. Still, it remains one of the ultimate modern flex cars, and you can now buy one for the price of a Toyota Sienna minivan.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Oh, and it’s not a purely egoistic purchase. It has a tiny little engine, and it’s a plug-in hybrid, so you can save the environment as you catch stares around town. It’s a sports car that birds and deer and rabbits and all the other creatures of the forest won’t be too offended by, a conspicuous altruist in a landscape of power brokers. Enticed? Read on.

What Is It?

Bmw Vision Efficientdynamics Concept

Back in 2009, frugality was in, and just about every major automaker was looking at visions of an electrified future. Tesla was stuffing batteries into a Lotus-produced chassis, Dodge stuffed some batteries into an actual Lotus, and BMW rolled out a concept sports car of its own. Called the Concept Vision EfficientDynamics, an exceptionally German name, it didn’t look like any BMW before. Sure, there was a hint of the M1 supercar in the layout, but the doors were entirely made of glass, the C-pillar floated like hovercrafts above the quarter panels, and under the hood sat a three-cylinder diesel engine matched to a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Even after evolving the project, replacing the diesel engine with a gasoline-powered three-banger in the 2011 i8 Concept, the whole vehicle felt gloriously strange. Surely, BMW wouldn’t be mad enough to build this. Right? Right?

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Bmw I8 Doors Up

Well, in 2013, BMW did just that. It took the engine from a Mini, a modified variant of the same gearbox family found in the Toyota Highlander, and a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and stuffed it all in a shell with doors that went up. Alright, so each door wasn’t entirely made of transparent material, but the result was a car that genuinely looked like a future. Maybe not the future, but a future BMW was willing to explore. The performance figures weren’t bad either. With 357 combined horsepower on tap, and a carbon fiber tub providing fundamental weight reduction, the i8 was good for zero-to-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds in Car And Driver testing. That’s not bad, nor was a 12.5-second quarter-mile time, but the real highlight was the way in which it delivered Porsche 911 Carrera S-rivaling acceleration. As Car And Driver wrote:

Regardless, the thing accelerates like a solid-fuel rocket when eBoost mode is engaged by pressing the accelerator pedal through the kickdown switch. It delivers the kind of sustained acceleration we’ve experienced in Porsche 911 Turbos.

Kick things down a notch, and you’ll find that the i8 can travel on electric power alone. Up to 15 miles, according to the EPA, which isn’t bad for a 7.1 kWh battery pack. It’s comfortable too, even if getting in and out is a bit involved. So, what’s the flaw in the i8’s Death Star construction, where’s the weak point in the armor? Well, if you value sensation, this isn’t the car for you. Light steering lacks feedback, the special eco tires grip well enough but won’t tear your face off, and blending hydraulic and regenerative braking doesn’t result in pedal feel quite as confidence-inspiring as purely hydraulic stoppers. Still, nothing looks like a BMW i8, and if your goal is turning heads and sipping fuel in South Beach, this is the machine to have.

How Much Are We Talking?

2015 Bmw I8 Cars And Bids Modified 1

If the BMW i8 was one of the greatest performance cars of the 21st century, resale values would likely be close to those of the Z8 roadster. Fortunately, it isn’t, so they aren’t. In fact, you can buy a BMW i8 for the price of a new Toyota Sienna. The mack-daddy Sienna, the Platinum, starts at $54,450, and there are a wealth of i8 coupes available under that price point. Take this 2015 i8 that sold in December on Cars & Bids, for example. With 64,500 miles on the clock, it sold for $46,500, a good clip less than a loaded Sienna. Mind you, this one’s been modified a touch, and makes 372 horsepower at the wheels. Now that’s spicy.

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2015 Bmw I8 Bring A Trailer 1

Alternatively, maybe you’d like your i8 perfectly stock. Well, here’s a grey 2018 i8 with just 12,000 miles on the clock that sold for $48,750 on Bring A Trailer just a few weeks ago. That’s nearly a new car, especially considering the average American drives more than 12,000 miles a year. What’s more, it has the laser headlights, the Harman/Kardon stereo, the head up display, the works. Sticker price when new? A cool $148,295 including freight. That’s nearly $100,000 off just because it’s been driven 12,000 miles.

2015 Bmw I8 Cars And Bids 1

Alright, so not everyone’s a fan of grey. Well, this silver 2015 i8 represents a middle ground. It sold last year on Cars & Bids for $46,500 with 51,000 miles on the clock, and while tint film on the windows should ward off the sun, this coupe is otherwise stock. Sure, it might not be cosmetically perfect, but few used cars are. Plus, it’s still far, far cheaper than it cost when new.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Bmw i8 Fuel Door Problem

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Well, this is a once-six-figure BMW that’s now retailing for a fraction of its sticker price. While the B38 inline-three has proven fairly reliable, the car isn’t always perfect. For instance, owners report issues with the fuel door simply not unlocking. While there’s an emergency release hidden behind a cover in the trunk lid, if you were driving an i8 with a busted fuel door release and hadn’t read the handbook, you might be in a bit of a pickle.

Bmw I8 Ac Compressor Issue

A bigger thing to worry about is air conditioning compressor failure. Instead of just crapping out, these compressors reportedly fail in a spectacular manner, sending debris through all the air conditioning lines. This would be aggravating enough on a normal car, but the A/C on an i8 doesn’t just cool the passengers, it cools the high-voltage battery. Needless to say, fixing this reactively is expensive, and while fixing it proactively requires buying a $1,795.99 part, it’s still less expensive than the alternative.

Bmw I8 Interior

Otherwise, the failure-prone fuel pressure sensor is covered under a ten-year extended warranty, door struts can rattle as they wear out, and a software update can fix errant low coolant warnings. In the grand scheme of things though, provided you replace the A/C compressor proactively, this is a car that looks like a supercar but doesn’t have anywhere near supercar-like running costs.

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Should You Buy A BMW i8?

2015 Bmw I8 Cars And Bids Rear

Alright, so a BMW i8 isn’t a suitable alternative for a Toyota Sienna. Although it has tiny rear seats, they aren’t really designed for humans, and the trunk is microscopic. However, if you’re looking for something that looks like a supercar but doesn’t have supercar costs, it’s hard to go wrong with an i8. Just remember that it’s still an aging German car, and budget the same sort of money you would for maintaining any BMW.

Plus, since it’s a plug-in hybrid, just think of the perks. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be able to drive in the carpool lane without any passengers, take advantage of free public Level 2 charging stations, run short-distance errands for pennies, and your neighbors will like you for setting out in the morning on silent electric drive. The BMW i8 didn’t make sense when it was new, but as a second-hand bargain, it’s strangely compelling.

(Photo credits: Cars & Bids, BMW, Bring A Trailer)

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Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
29 days ago

From a pure styling perspective, I always loved these. I would love to have one as a weekend car. But I know enough about BMWs to know (even before reading this article) that ownership would involve some expensive maintenance and repair.

But they were a flop because they basically got beat by the Tesla Model S.

Black Peter
Black Peter
29 days ago

Am I being naïve that the $8000 hand grenade should be a factory recalled item?

Angel "the Cobra" Martin
Angel "the Cobra" Martin
29 days ago

A Russ Hanniman reference on my birthday. The gift I didn’t think I needed, but can’t live without.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
29 days ago

I have always liked these. I am glad BMW made them,even if I will never drive or own one.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
30 days ago

I doubt I will ever own one, but I love both this and the i3 specifically for how off-beat they were/are. I do wish the diesel had remained so it could pull up to the truck stop pumps and get stares, and better yet someone needs to make a diesel series hybrid (is there one somewhere?) so you can pretend it’s a locomotive!

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

> your neighbors will like you for setting out in the morning on silent electric drive

Eh. My neighbors on either side have at least one PHEV apiece, and I can hear the WAAAAAAAAA spaceship sound every time they leave their driveways. It’s much more annoying than them just driving their regular cars, though at least they aren’t lighting up poorly exhausted Chargers, or, damn my black soul, beautiful chugging boulevard crusiers like the GTO-in-progress* that went pleasantly loping by downtown last night, but would be miserable if that were my neighbor leaving for work in the morning.

*Based on the roughly 1:1 paint:primer ratio.

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
29 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

I can’t stand that WAAAAAAAA either. It’s deliberately tuned to catch your attention, which makes it somehow worse than a petrol engine’s audible but different frequency noise.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 month ago

I have a confession to make: as much as I dislike modern BMW design, I love the i8. I initially thought it was stupid and gimmicky – and in a way I still do – but soon after it came out, someone got one in my hometown and I was sold the very first time I saw it the flesh. They’re actually very good looking in person. That fascia has to be the best BMW has come up with in decades, and the rear somehow does not look so bad (I still can’t get past the way the rear looks in photos, but somehow it’s different in person). The proportions are elegant but something about it just screams it’s not meant to be taken seriously, and I think that’s cool. Anyway, that’s my confession. The i8 is one of the very few modern cars I love.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
30 days ago

That’s a very apt description. It matches my experience to a T. They’re gorgeous.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
30 days ago

They really are, and in a unexpected way. I really think photos don’t do it justice. For some reason in photos the proportions always look slightly off to me, it was a huge surprise back then to realise it’s an elegant, well proportioned design.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
30 days ago

It does look good, though I can’t get over how it looks like it has a 911 coming out of its rear.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
29 days ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

That is 100% what it is, it looks like one rear end on top of another, and the fact is the angle at which you tend to look at it in person does help do away with that optical illusion. It looks super silly in photos, absolutely no question.

Last edited 29 days ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
29 days ago

Seconded, there are literally two BMWs I enjoy the look of, the i3 & i8.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
29 days ago
Reply to  Scone Muncher

I am super picky with modern design; the i3 I find OK in terms of design, and I think it’s technologically aweosme (which is still a lot better than the utmost dislike I feel for almost every single BMW design after the E34, except for the Z cars, which I tolerate).

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
29 days ago

I have an i3s and the s changes make a pretty big difference in the look (imo). It took a bit to grow on me, I’ll admit.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
28 days ago
Reply to  Scone Muncher

The i3 would be dramatically improved without the sneeze/hiccup-induced dip in the side window sill line for the rear doors. It might aid visibility, but it’s so jarring and seemingly unnecessary. Have the dip encompass both side windows if going for improved visibility, not just the rear.

I have the same issue with the recent generations of the Honda Odyssey.

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
28 days ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

The dip is actually fantastic for rear seat passengers especially kids in car seats. I don’t think they could have the driver/front passenger windowsill any lower for safety, though.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
28 days ago
Reply to  Scone Muncher

I have to imagine there is some sort of compromise that would allow for a level lower window sill line between both doors that’s still safe but also yields rear seat outwards visibility.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
29 days ago

How in the hell have I missed your comments until now? I laughed out loud for too long at your username, having gotten tangled with Jehovah’s witnesses early in my adult life. I wish they had wanted to talk about Renaults!

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
29 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Oh well, I suppose I can be as annoying as a Jehovah’s witness when it comes to arguing about the wonders of a good old Cléon-Fonte engine 🙂

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
1 month ago

I think i8 is the BMW weird gone very right. Somehow it’s weird, futuristic and elegant at the same time. Unlike current lineup.

However I don’t want one. There’s R8 and i8 near by. I normally don’t want Audis, but R8 (especially the V8 manual) float my boat. with I8 it’s other way round, I normally kinda like bimmers but really don’t want the i8.

Aardvark775
Aardvark775
1 month ago

A new Sienna is a much better deal.

Stryker_T
Stryker_T
1 month ago

I have always been unreasonably attracted to the i8. yea it’s also busy and has some weird styling decisions, but it still looks striking even today.

nothing about it is practical for my needs, but also, come to daddy.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stryker_T
Angular Banjoes
Angular Banjoes
1 month ago

This thing always confused me. I just don’t really get what BMW was going for. It’s like an answer to a question that nobody asked, and a rather bizarre looking one at that. Plus, from the rear view, it looks like it’s shitting out a 991.

Stryker_T
Stryker_T
1 month ago

to be fair, there are worse things to look like while shitting something out.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
29 days ago

I think what they were going for was to have the coolest ‘green’ cars.

I think they saw how the Prius was the go-to green car celebrities bought in the 2000s and they thought ‘we want in on that for image purposes’.. but we are going to do it in a way that is better and more interesting’.

And in many ways, the i3 and i8 were both more interesting than the Prius.

Sadly for BMW, what they came out with was outshone by the Tesla Model S.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 month ago

The BMW i8 vs the Acura NSX is an interesting case study in two hybrid sports cars that released around the same time, with a similar MSRP. The i8 has depreciated heavily, while the NSX sells for close to new.

Defiant
Defiant
1 month ago

Found one of these heavily subsidized/multiple security deposits on Swap-a-lease when I couldn’t buy the ELR at that lease end for a reasonable price. I mean, the swap-a-lease lease was under $870/mo after taxes. That doesn’t seem “cheap” until you compare to the dealer in the 2017/18 era when they were going for 3x that to lease new!

The i8 was also awesome like the ELR – just did everything right as a luxurious and quick (enough) commuter. Kids loved it even though these back seats were even smaller. Could charge at home and work and never used gas during the week and then could put it in “angry mode” (red/sport) and hammer on it for some fun when desired. The turbo 3 was rorty and fun and with the torque-fill the e-motors provided, quick off the line too.

Exactly what happend with the ELR lease-end buyout happened here though. Wanted to buy this at lease end (no problems at all during my “ownership” stint) but the dealer wanted stupid money when they were going for 10’s of thousands less at auction. (and they wouldn’t sell to me for an auction price.)

Volt-ELR-i8 – all incredible cars and any could have stayed in our household if the buy-outs at lease end were reasonable. (meaning – I guess all of the original MSRP’s were just too high to keep any of them as one-owner cars for anything approaching reasonable monthly costs.) If you can find a reasonable-mileage, one-owner with maintenance records one, highly recommend any of these.

ps – mine didn’t have the laser lights, but I always wanted to see what that looked like!

pps – yes – once you see the 911 being birthed out the rear, you can’t un-see it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Defiant
Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 month ago

Is there anyone among us who would have this over a C7?

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 month ago

If you absolutely have to have an automatic and premium branding, get a Continental GT and gain entry to the upper crust

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago

I’ve actually talked to a guy who owns a Continental GT and drives it regularly. The ownership costs are absolutely staggering.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
1 month ago

Me 100%. I love vettes but I’ll take the weird one.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

Yes me. I8 is gorgeous. C7 is an overwrought clash of angles and fake vents.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

You must really hate the C8. Even I’ll admit they left that one on the cooker too long

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

Yes, the C8 is much worse.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
29 days ago

Me! Mainly for the novelty factor.

Zelda Bumperthumper
Zelda Bumperthumper
1 month ago

The i8 has all the things I don’t want: three cylinders, hybrid propulson, no manual transmission, a bunch of bespoke BMW parts that the aftermarket probably has no interest in reproducing, and really busy design inside and out. It’s also pure hot sex and want one so freaking bad.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 month ago

Came here to say this

Dave mid-engine
Dave mid-engine
1 month ago

The skinny eco tires and tiny engine are the polar opposite of the supercar body and supercar price. So weird.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago

Totally agree!

Stryker_T
Stryker_T
1 month ago

you’ve put to words the exact feelings I also have for the i8.
(less so for the hybrid part, I have no real qualms on that anymore but yes.)

Last edited 1 month ago by Stryker_T
Peter d
Peter d
1 month ago
Reply to  Stryker_T

I think Rich Benoit (Rich Rebuilds) had an i8, and if I am remembering correctly it was an easy rebuild because BMW parts were relatively easy and cheap to get from the dealer (as opposed to Tesla – which has the toughest parts to get)

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago

These really are striking in person and look very futuristic and supercar-ey. I find the design to be pretty busy myself but I still generally like it and it’s so much better than what BMW is currently doing that it’s not even funny. I’ve seen them listed in the 40s/50s and I too have wondered about them.

My real hang up is simple…these are rolling German showcases of the most cutting edge technology BMW had a decade ago. Stuff is going to go wrong and it won’t be cheap or pleasant to fix. The sheer amount of electronics in the damn things worry me too. It’s not so much mechanical failure that I’d lose sleep over, it’s the seemingly endless possibilities for electronic gremlins.

These also aren’t fast, and by not fast I mean not supercar fast. They look like they could cruise at 200+ without breaking a sweat but in practice they’re basically V8 pony car fast. It’s more than enough to have fun with, but a bit of a letdown compared to the looks. They also don’t sound like anything. It’s a bunch of battery wizardry and a damn Mini engine.

Would I want one personally? Probably not, but they’re a lot of car for the price they’ve depreciated to. They look great and they’re…pretty fast. Plus if you’re someone who wants something supercar-ey but cares deeply about the environment an i8 is about as good as it gets. The numbers seem to differ depending on the source but it seems like these get high 20s MPG when driven as hybrids and you have a small but usable pure EV range.

In conclusion…they’re pretty neat and they definitely occupy an interesting niche.

i3 Driving Indicator Fetishist
i3 Driving Indicator Fetishist
1 month ago

I still love the big brother to my i3… if only used ones were that cheap in Canada.

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
29 days ago

Came to the comments to say exactly this. Autotrader has 25 in the *country* and they’re $58–125K loonies.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 month ago

I saw one of these for the first time in real life earlier this week, and was astonished how good it looks. It looks good in photos, if perhaps a bit busy in certain design elements, but when moving it sure looked the business.

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