Quick Spin – BMW i8 Roadster


The BMW i8 has been around for about 4 years now. with its striking design, and it acts as the flagship of the electrified BMW range (i3, i3 Rex, and the i Performance variants of the standard range).

The i8 received some significant evolutions earlier this year, with a Roadster variant -pictured here- added to the range, a much larger battery pack (11.6 kWh replacing the 7.1 kWh original one) and a 12hp power boost for the electric powertrain (from 131 to 143hp) bringing up the combined power to 374hp. Note that the 3-cylinder 1.5 liter turbo petrol engine is still producing a very healthy 231 hp. Yes, you read that correctly, that is 231 hp from a 3 cylinder !

 

i8 is the flagship, 530e is the mainstream offer

 

The i8 has a very unique transmission setup : a classic hybrid system located behind the seats is driving the rear wheels thanks to a 6-speed auto but also another electric motor (in the front) mated to its own 2-speed gearbox ! No transmission between the 2 axles (that’s right where the battery pack actually is) but electronic magics sending the power in front, in the rear or at the 4 wheels, depending on your driving style, road conditions and the driving mode chosen! It makes it one of the rare cars that can be front, rear and all wheel drive ! All of that works quite well, and during a quick spin with it, I couldn’t tell where and how the power was delivered -it’s all very seamless-. Another place the i8 must be quite good at : snow, with a reasonable balanced weight, 4 wheel drive and tyres that aren’t too big for a sports car (from 195mm wide on the front tyres), you have some good potential (if the road is pot-hole-free 🙂 ) and it will make you feel safe.

 

 

Because of the larger battery pack, the i8 has gained 50kg but is still relatively light for a large sports coupé, at 1610kg (60kg more for the roadster), with a nearly perfect 49-51 front-rear balance (it’s a BMW after all). Its excellent aerodynamics (0.26) allows this car to be extremely economical considering the performance delivered. 5 litres per 100km is achievable in hybrid mode. In pure electric mode, it has an NEDC range of 55km (53km for the roadster), 17 km more than the original version (2014-2017).

 

 

On-board charger speed is still 3.7kwh (16amp), which is not a lot, but common and enough for a Plug-in Hybrid so it will take you around 3 hours to get a full charge on a dedicated charger, and closer to 5 hours on a 3-pin socket.

The BMW i8 starts at € 154,080 in Coupé, and € 171,390 in Roadster. And you can get this bold E-Copper colour on both body styles. If this is a bit much for you, look at the BMW i3, also beautifully over-engineered but much more affordable !

 

Photo credit : BMW, Guillaume Séguin

Thanks to BMW Ireland for the opportunity to drive this beautiful beast