BMW i8 Roadster: Leader of the pack
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When BMW revealed the i8 coupe in 2015, it revolutionised what the world knew of electric performance cars (sorry Elon). Now comes the i8 roadster to take the segment to the next level.
The i8 roadster is on sale in Australasia with one roadster currently available (pictured here) from $308,900 and the final cost of $317,900 due to the option of laser light.
The roadster was revealed at the 2012 Beijing motor show as the i8 concept spyder. It is on sale now, three years after the launch of the i8 coupe.
It sits in BMW’s i performance range alongside the i3, i8 and soon the i4 sedan that was revealed as a concept 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. At this year’s Geneva motor show, the company confirmed it would go into production.
But leading the i performance pack now is the i8 roadster.
The roadster has an electro synchronous engine plus a three-cylinder petrol engine, with a combined output of 275kW of power and 570Nm of torque, and steptronic transmission.
The roadster goes from 0-100km/h in 4.6 sec, .2 sec slower than the coupe, but put that down to increased weight.
The roadster, of course, has strengthening material in the chassis making it 60kg heavier than the coupe’s 1595kg.
The contemporary, and head-turning, exterior design of the i8 roadster is the same as coupe but there’s more to this sports car than just losing a roof.
With the removal of the hard roof, the aerodynamic funnels of the rear haunches are more prominent, giving it a more futuristic look than the coupe.
Of course, the colour choice of e-cooper for our test car makes the i8 roadster absolutely bring bling to the road and stand out.
To accommodate the soft top, BMW modified the windscreen of the i8 and strengthened the carbon fibre frame. There is a small rear window that acts as a wind deflector when the roof is off.
The roof deploys within 14 seconds at speeds up to 50km/h. But 14 seconds is a long time I found while testing the roadster last week when a storm hit.
Although the i8 coupe was a four seater, the roadster has two seats but it gains an impressive amount of storage in the rear of the cabin where the two seats passenger would have been.
There is 92 litres of space over three cubby holes which, combined with the 88 litres of the luggage area in the boot, provides 160 litres of stowage area.
The dashboard has also been lightly updated for the i8 Roadster, including the latest version of BMW’s iDrive system, which offers either touch control on a 8.8in monitor or via a rotary dial on the middle console.
For the exterior aspects, I think the soft top has a more futuristic and appealing look, and gives more prominence to the aerodynamic rear air diffusers.
Due to the weight addition in the chassis, the roadster is a more responsive vehicle than the i8 coupe and you can place it into tight corners with confidence and it has sharper performance.
It was one of the most dynamic sports cars I’ve driven, thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre including the body tub. And with the roof off, it’s a delight to drive.
Around town, you can stick to eDrive eco mode and use the battery (which can take up to 12 hours to charge at home), or you have the confidence of the petrol engine for those long road trips.
To help during long trips, there are heated seats but on the subject of seats, there is still the downside to the i8: entering and exiting the car due to the winged doors.
Entering is easy: perch on sill, flip a leg over, bum on seat and right leg joins you. To exit isn’t quite as glamorous. Open door, lean over and try to sit on sill, grab windscreen if roof off and pull yourself up and flick leg over. Drag next leg. Or as my 178cm son did, tip yourself out hands first.