This retractable roof version of the i8, the electric sports hybrid of the Bavarian manufacturer, is not only a fabulous machine sensation. It is also a real treat for our retinas… The arrival of this second body design is accompanied by a slight gain in power, but especially a gain of autonomy in EV mode

 

Evolutions in the air

The ingredients that contributed to the passion generated by this i8 have of course been renewed on this soft top Roadster model: a ubiquitous driving pleasure, doors in elytra like on the coupe, a dream cockpit with spectacular moulds… This retractable roof version (lowering in 15 seconds and when travelling up to 31mph) is very quiet to use: the aerodynamics were studiously checked to ensure the absence of turbulence. This Roadster also includes a particulate filter: following a culture of always doing better … The power of the electric motor (placed on the front axle) has increased from 131 to 143 hp. Thanks to the increased capacity of Li-Ion batteries, this brings the electric autonomy to 33 miles in all. No significant evolution for the turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol engine, installed in the central-rear position, which remains at 231hp. The GT spirit is well and truly there! All these technological developments have also been reported on the coupe and we appreciate all the provisions for these two models. In addition, some body parts benefited from 3D printing. A must have!

 

Inside the BMW i8 Roadster

The design of the dashboard remains classic and very sober, which is not displeasing to us. The multimedia display is now tactile and customizable. The perfectly curved seats are extremely comfortable and we like the head-up display, which is also a safety feature as it allows you to keep your eyes on the road. When it comes to luggage and storage, the rear mini-trunk close to the combustion engine only holds 88L. Fortunately, additional and partitionable storage spaces have replaced the rear seats of the coupe version.

 

At the helm of an i8 Roadster

The dominant feeling when you take the wheel of this car remains the ease of handling… The i8 moves almost stealthily from the start with a slight whistle related to the ultra-quiet electric motor, it is far from the noise reactors make on the tarmac at the beginning of a race… The engine arrives “in reinforcement” as soon as one requests a little power but this transition takes place in a very soft and imperceptible way for the occupants. The manufacturer has been able to adapt the sound of this 3-cylinder car by using suitable (even if artificial) acoustics.

Perfectly versatile, this 6 speed automatic gearbox (with steering wheel gearshift paddles) engine allows you to enjoy a quiet ride on the small quiet roads as much as accelerating the tempo, if the environment and road layout allow it. The chassis (carbon fiber) is well balanced with (active) suspension settings which have been revisited: the sport mode is now more marked and can avoid undesirable under-steering. The comfort mode modifies the management of the engines and the controlled suspension. Despite weighing 60 kg more than the coupe (already presented in these columns when it was launched), liveliness is at the rendezvous and never evanescent, reinforced by an informative and ultra-linear direction: a feast of precision, especially in quick succession or for large curves.

Finally, the three driving modes offered allow you to choose between range and performance but comfort is not “à la carte”, it is omnipresent in all modes, including the sports mode where this i8 has very fast and appreciated acceleration (0 to 100 km/h in 4.6s): the thrust is just as powerful as it is instantaneous! In addition, an eDrive contactor forces all to switch to pure electric mode, so zero emission. 4.5 hours will be enough to recharge it completely (on a domestic plug). For the rest, in terms of efficiency, the efficiency is there and despite a well-established “high performance character”, and its total of 374 hp, we did not exceed 7.5 to 8 l / 100 km during our test drive. Conversely, the tank can accommodate only 42 l of fuel which limits autonomy a little. This Roadster, a 374-hp (cumulative power), rechargeable electric-gasoline hybrid, is now available at a dealership from €156,950. Its emissions are very low: 42g of CO2 / km.

 

Leader in premium electro-mobility, BMW has evolved into a harmonious mode by offering this desirable i8 Roadster. In the immediate future this rechargeable hybrid Roadster with almost futuristic lines, which is efficient and comfortable, remains a concentrate of technology and demonstrates the mastery of this manufacturer to achieve a pioneering, innovative and transitional project before the era of all electrical.

 

By B&JM Salmon
Photos: BMW Europe