BMW i8 Coupe Gets a Roadster Brother and More Electric Range

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The 2019 models squeeze 18 miles of pure EV range out of the vehicle thanks to the new 11.6kWh battery pack. It won't sell in high volume, but it'll draw attention, no question.

Power for the i8 Roadster and i8 Coupe comes from a reworked version of the plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid driveline used by the existing i8 Coupe - the LifeDrive architecture as it is labeled by BMW. The cars along with the i3s are part of the automakers commitment to have 12 electric cars by 2025.

Another change to the powertrain is the new lithium-ion battery that now boasts a cell capacity of 34Ah (up from 20Ah) and an energy capacity of 11.6kW (up from 7.1kW).

When it was shown as a concept - then called the i8 Spyder - it was unclear just what sort of roof it would have; now we know it gets a folding ragtop that tucks out of sight without eating up too much cargo space.

2019 BMW i8 Roadster
2019 BMW i8 Roadster Enlarge

BMW has also had a fiddle with the glasshouse, beefing up the windscreen and quarter window and turning the rear window in to a deflector which can be raised or lowered wherever you have the roof. The range for driving in electric mode has been increased to 33 miles in the Roadster and 34 miles in the Coupe. While the Coupe is a tenth faster to 62mph than the old one, at 4.4 seconds, the Roadster drops two tenths on that as it labours just that little bit harder to get its mass moving off the line. On pure electric the new system can run up to 18 miles on pure electric over the previous 15. The 2018 BMW i8 coupe starts at $146,395.

Thanks to a more powerful electric motor, which is still mated to a 170kW version of BMW's 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol engine, the BMW i8 now boasts a total system output of 275kW, up from 266kW.

Recharging the batteries takes around 4.5 hours from a domestic supply or less than three hours with an uprated BMW Wallbox home charger.

A boost of power to 369 horsepower means zero-to-100 km/h times now dwell in 4.6-second area for the Roadster, and around 4.4 for the coupe. Ivory white leather upholstery rounds out the cabins of both models, while the Roadster adds a black option. The iconic gullwing doors have also been retained. Mpg has also been improved to 149.8mpg for the Coupe and 134.5mpg for the Roadster, although these numbers are always notoriously hard to replicate in the real world, unless you charge frequently and mainly undertake short journeys. A paint color name that finally makes sense.