New 2019 BMW i8 Roadster arrives… Billed rather grandly as the world’s bestselling hybrid sports car (how many competitors does it have in that class?), the certainly pioneering BMW i8 has added an extra string to its bow with the addition of an exciting Roadster version.
We first drove this new model back in the spring (Mission impossible?, June 2018) on its international launch. The good news now is, for those of you who fancied this i8’s unique mix of hybrid technology, sports car performance and wind-in-the-hair driving potential, the model can be found in a BMW dealership near you right now. On the downside, though, if you want to drive one out of the showroom, it’ll cost you £124,735. The 2019 BMW i8 Roadster I15 has retained much of the design flavour displayed by the striking concept car exhibited at the Beijing Motor Show way back in 2012. From the innovative packaging of the roof, through to retaining the iconic, frameless dihedral doors, the i8 Roadster has lost none of its visual drama.
The all-electric, all-season fabric soft-top can be opened or closed all but silently in just 15 seconds, while travelling at up to 31mph. The three segments of the roof fold vertically in a Z-shape, ensuring they take up minimal space and leave a useful 100 litres of storage capacity between the roof box and the seats, in addition to the 88 litres of cargo space in the rear compartment.
Intelligent, lightweight design and innovative production technology play a key role in the car’s construction. For example, aluminium components connecting the roof to the body are 3D-printed. BMW says this breaks new ground in the industry, and allows the parts to be produced in a geometric form, which wouldn’t be possible using conventional casting techniques.
On the mechanical side of things, there’s an improved, emissions-free range thanks to an updated version of the i8’s lithium-ion battery pack, now with a 34Ah capacity. As a result, the i8 Roadster can cover up to 33 miles on electric power alone, at speeds of up to 65mph. If the eDrive button is pressed, the all-electric top speed is increased further, to 75mph. The i8’s combustion engine has also undergone further improvements. The 1.5-litre, turbocharged, direct-injection, three-cylinder unit produces 231hp, and does so more cleanly than before, thanks to a standard-fit particulate filter.
The total power output produced by the electric motor and engine working together has increased to 374hp, making the i8 Roadster capable of hitting 62mph in 4.6 seconds, and powering on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph.
The combined fuel consumption, as calculated in the EU test cycle for plugin hybrid vehicles, stands at 141.2mpg – which equates to CO₂ emissions of 46g/km – plus 14.5kWh of electricity. In everyday driving, BMW claims that the i8 Roadster returns fuel consumption and emissions figures that undercut those for conventionally-powered sports cars with similar outputs, by around 50%.
So a typical commute through city traffic and along country roads can be negotiated with fuel consumption of about 56mpg, while during long-distance journeys with prolonged sections of country and motorway driving, the intelligent energy management should ensure that the average economy betters 40mpg.
The i8 Roadster’s non-dazzling laser headlights offer a high-beam range of 600 metres – double that of the full-LED headlights fitted as standard on the BMW i8 Coupé I12.
A distinctive, high-line ‘Accaro’ interior trim, featuring cloth/leather upholstery in an Amido/ECopper colour scheme is a new option for the i8 Roadster. The futuristic interior characterises the i8 Roadster. The Driving Experience Control switch and eDrive button provide five driving modes.
The unladen weight of the i8 Roadster stands at 1,595kg, just 60kg more than the Coupé version.