BMW built its i8 model originally as a coupe, as a means of testing out new engineering, such as a carbon-fiber frame, and a hybrid drivetrain. Futuristic looks and an engaging driving character certainly help make the car more enticing. For the 2019 model year, BMW adds a roadster variant, with a power retractable top.
The i8 Roadster, like its Coupe sibling, uses a carbon-fiber structure to keep the body and chassis light. However, it still weighs in at around 3,500 pounds.
The i8 uses a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine to drive the rear wheels, and an electric motor to drive the fronts. For the 2019 model year, the total output of that system goes to 369 horsepower, modest by supercar standards but getting the i8 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.
The top cloth panel folds away at the touch of a button, creating open-top driving. The engineering to allow the convertible top meant removing the rear seats.
BMW still offers the i8 hardtop, formally called the i8 Coupe now. This model has an identical drivetrain, and two small rear seats.
With improvements to the drivetrain, the i8 can now travel 18 miles on purely electric drive. That may be enough for urban commutes.
BMW also added its suite of driver-assist technologies, including a head-up display, something not generally included with sports cars.
The open-top variant seems a good strategy, letting the occupants enjoy the quiet of the hybrid drivetrain.
BMW begins sales of the 2019 i8 Roadster and Coupe in the spring of 2018.