2018 BMW i8 Roadster review
Our Rating

4.5/5

2018 BMW i8 Roadster review

We get behind the wheel of the soft-top version of the German hybrid sports car, which has finally been revealed after years of teasing.

Introduction

When it first went on sale in 2014, the BMW i8 looked like it was from ten years in the future – looking more like a road-bound rocketship than a sports car.

In the years since, the i8 doesn’t look any less modern, and now, BMW has decided to take the roof off the Coupe to create this – the i8 Roadster.

The German manufacturer had been teasing the soft-top hybrid sports car for some time, but it is finally on the road and it’s safe to say it looks just as good as the Coupe – if not slightly better.

But can the Roadster perform as well as the hard-top model? We take a closer look…

2018 BMW i8 Roadster

Performance

As with the standard i8, the Roadster uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine alongside an electric motor. Fitted with two gearboxes, a six-speed automatic directs the petrol engine’s power to the rear wheels, while a two-speed auto transmits the electric motor’s power to the front axle.

Together they combine to develop 369bhp and 570Nm of torque, and when both are used at the same time, the i8 Roadster can get from 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds and top out at 155mph. The i8 can also offer drivers 33 miles on electric power alone – meaning zero-emission driving around town is easily possible.

2018 BMW i8 Roadster

Ride & Handling

When cars get their roof cut off to become a roadster, there’s usually a problem in terms of stability and driving feel, as manufacturers build in additional supports to reduce the car flexing too much. But BMW has managed the conversion of the i8 from Coupe to Roadster really well, and this model hasn’t had a lot of weight added either.

With that in mind, the i8 Roadster handles its weight really well through the corners and the steering feels as sharp as the Coupe – but it can understeer slightly when pushed a bit harder. The brakes could also be sharper, as they feel a bit vague as it stands. The ride feels comfortable enough when cruising, but don’t expect that all the time due to the large alloys and low profile tyres.

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2018 BMW i8 Roadster

Interior & Equipment

There was no need for BMW to change the interior of the Roadster too much compared to the Coupe, but as it coincides with the hard-top’s mid-life update, you’ll now find added features. New colour and material combinations give the Roadster a more personalised touch, but the infotainment system and controls are little behind other recent BMWs.

Space-wise, the i8 Roadster is actually more practical than its Coupe sibling – even if neither are built to be particularly capacious in the first place. The 188-litre storage space in the Roadster is 35 litres more than the Coupe, while there is plenty of space for the two occupants.

The model comes with a soft-folding roof that can be opened or closed in just 15 seconds, and at speeds up to 31mph – enough time to put the roof in the right position while stopped at a set of traffic lights.

Standard equipment on the i8 includes adaptive LED headlights, cruise control with automatic braking, driving assistant with surround-view, speed limit display and high-beam assist, parking sensors, automatic air conditioning, leather instrument panel, multifunctional sports steering wheel, 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment display with Bluetooth, digital instrument display and head-up display.

2018 BMW i8 Roadster

Cost

Starting price for the i8 Roadster is £124,735 – not cheap then, but you do get plenty of equipment as standard to make the price a bit easier to swallow. To showcase what the i8 could have added, BMW had fitted the test car with £10,360-worth of extras, taking the price of our test car up to £135,075.

Thanks to that hybrid setup, BMW quotes fuel usage figures of 141.9mpg and just 46g/km CO2 in emissions – impressive for a sports car. That makes it much cheaper to run than many of its combustion engine-powered rivals.

2018 BMW i8 Roadster

Verdict

With the Roadster, BMW has added a credible option to the i8 line-up and one that is likely to prove popular among its customer base. As performance is barely hindered compared to the Coupe, the Roadster has no real shortcomings in how it feels to drive and running costs are also low because of the hybrid setup. There’s a lot to like about the i8 Roadster and many will be drawn to it – even if it is a bit pricey.

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