Belfast Telegraph

Home Cars

Review: Is the i8 Roadster BMW's sexiest car ever?

By Paul Connolly

BMW sports car fans are counting down the days until the ultra-modern i8 Roadster goes on sale.

In a few weeks, the much-anticipated £124k drop-top becomes available to buy, following months of speculation and teaser images.

The Roadster, along with an updated i8 Coupe, has just been officially unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Instead of the Coupe’s hard roof, the Roadster gets a fabric soft-top capable of opening and closing in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 30ph.

The Roadster’s drop-dead looks, gull wing doors, powerful low-emission petrol-electric motor and open-sky motoring have won the i8 new legions of fans.

The Roadster is a two-seater whereas the Coupe was a 2+2 (two small rear seats).

The Coupe has been the world’s best-selling hybrid sports car since it was born in 2014. The addition of the roadster, and upgrade to the coupe, will likely ensure it stays there.

The all new i8 Roadster takes the combination of emission-free and high-performance and adds open-top thrills.

It is unique in offering such performance and silent acceleration with the pure sensation of roof-down driving.

As with the new coupe, the aluminium ‘Drive’ module brings together the powertrain, high-voltage battery, suspension, crash system and structural functions, while the ‘Life’ module takes the form of a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell, unique to the segment.

The i8 Roadster is unique in offering a fabric soft-top which stows into a perpendicular position in the rear when opened, therefore taking up very little space.

The three segments of the roof fold vertically in a Z-shape, leaving an additional 100 litres of storage space between the roof box and the seats, on top of the 88 litres of cargo space in the rear compartment.

Opening the roof raises the rear window automatically by around 30mm, reducing air turbulence inside the cabin and ensuring passengers can enjoy the pleasure of open-top driving with minimal disturbance.

The driver can adjust the height of the window at the touch of a button and control airflow as desired.

Lightweight design and innovative production technology also play a key role in the car’s construction, says BMW.

For example, aluminium elements connecting the roof with the body are produced via a new 3D printing process.

Underpinning its improved emission-free range is an updated version of the i8’s lithium-ion battery.

The high-voltage unit is located centrally under the car, and its cell capacity is increased from 20 to 34Ah. All of which means the motor has more energy at its disposal. Plus, the cell configuration allows a 12hp increase in peak output to 143hp.

The improved technology means the i8 Roadster can cover up to 33 miles with zero emissions, while the i8 Coupé can achieve up to 34 miles.

It can reach speeds of 75mph on electric power only. Both models have an improved turbocharged three-cylinder engine unit featuring direct injection and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing extracts a maximum output of 231hp from its displacement of just 1.5-litres, plus peak torque of 320Nm.

The engine also runs more cleanly, as it now comes equipped with a particulate filter as standard that effectively absorbs all the particulate matter contained in the exhaust gases.

The system output produced by the electric motor and engine acting in unison has increased to 374hp.

The new i8 Coupe accelerates from zero to 62mph in 4.4 seconds, while the Roadster takes 4.6 seconds. Both models have an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

Official combined fuel consumption stands at 149.8mpg for the Coupé and 134.5mpg for the Roadster – which equates to petrol CO2 emissions of 42 and 46g/km respectively.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph