Drop-top debuts with more power and range
The BMW i8 Roadster has finally arrived, alongside an updated i8 coupe. Both cars make their debut at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show with more power, an increased electric driving range, and new interior trims.
The 2019 BMW i8 Roadster features an electric soft top that can open in less than 16 seconds and operate at speeds up to 31 mph (50 km/h). The fabric roof contains additional soundproofing, according to BMW, and is stowed in a perpendicular position in the rear to take up as little space as possible. When the top is down, the rear window automatically raises by roughly 1.9 inches to help guide the air flow toward the rear. Unlike the i8 coupe, which is a 2+2, the Roadster is strictly a two-seater. There’s still some storage behind the seats and roof compartment, though not much. Preliminary estimates place volume at 3.5 cubic feet. The cargo compartment in the rear can fit 4.7 cubic feet, so you’ll have to take a different car to the fairway.
As we heard previously, the introduction of the Roadster brings with it changes for the coupe version, as well. Both the Roadster and coupe receive a new lithium-ion battery pack with an increased 11.6-kilowatt-hour capacity. This allows for a 12-hp bump in peak power from the front electric motor, bringing its output to 141 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The 2019 i8 still uses a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-three that makes 228 hp and 236 lb-ft. The i8’s battery improvements bring its combined output to 369 hp and 420 lb-ft. In addition to adding power, the new battery pack enables a longer all-electric range. The 2019 i8 can travel 18 miles (29 km), up from 15 miles (24 km) with the old battery.
The 2019 i8 coupe is estimated by BMW to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and the i8 Roadster is said to hit that speed in 4.4 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph (250 km/h) for both cars. The i8 can drive up to 65 mph (105 km/h) on electric power alone or 75 mph (120 km/h) in eDrive mode.
Both variants use a carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) passenger cell and CFRP and aluminum butterfly doors. CFRP is also used in the side skirts, which are actually structural, according to BMW. Also aiding rigidity on the Roadster are additional panels in the suspension and special front and rear struts. A new aluminum 3D printing process was used to make lightweight parts for the Roadster’s roof. The use of composite materials and aluminum helps bring the Roadster’s weight to 3,515 pounds (1,594 kg), or 132 pounds (60 kg) more than the 2019 i8 coupe.
Inside, the 2019 BMW i8 gets the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with an 8.8-inch touchscreen. Both variants get a head-up display, heated seats, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and three driving modes (Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro) as standard. A Tera World Copper interior trim featuring premium cloth and leather upholstery in an Amido/E-Copper color scheme is new and exclusive to the Roadster.
Pricing has not been announced, but a BMW representative told us the i8 Roadster will start “north of $150,000 USD.” The 2018 BMW i8 coupe starts at $146,395 USD. The 2019 BMW i8 Roadster and coupe both go on sale next spring.