BMW I8 ROADSTER
—By Aniseh Sharifi
Extravagance doesn’t need to be justified, and a supercar doesn’t need to be sustainable, but it can be. The desire to gallivant in a car for the simple pleasure of experiencing an extraordinary drive is unwavering. The first ever BMW i8 Roadster precisely embodies all of these qualities.
BMW proudly boasts its revamped concoction of hybrid AWD technology and its TwinPower Turbo gas engine as the world’s best-selling hybrid sports car, rightfully so, considering the lack of competition in this category. The real bragging rights, though, are hands-down for the vehicle’s eccentric exterior design. This futuristic two-seater convertible hovers fiercely over the road in a lightweight wedge-shaped structure. The exaggerated long lines on the body radiate elegance while the flat hood, long wheelbase, and large track width add to the pronounced supercar vibes.
The simple act of opening the lavish gullwing doors and being folded into the cockpit (as awkward as it may feel at first) is part of the stop-and-stare presence of the car. The soundproof soft top opens and closes in approximately 16 seconds even when the vehicle is in motion (up to 50 km/h). Though this gentle giant may have a modest roar, it certainly makes up for it in its loud appearance. The E-Copper metallic exterior and Frozen Grey highlights promise a drool-worthy sight at every angle. It’s equipped with the exclusive 20-inch BMW i light alloy wheels in radial spoke style, emphasizing again that there is absolutely nothing subtle about this car.
The interior cabin is cozy and true to the standard BMW details. A leather sports steering wheel with paddle shifting joins a multifunctional instrument display with the convenience of voice activation and a Head-Up Display. The perforated leather upholstery is available in the new E-Copper Natural Leather with cloth accents.
More refined than the original i8 launched in 2014, the new Roadster offers more power and an increased electric range. Governed by a low centre of gravity, the vehicle is powered by a driving duo of a hybrid powertrain electric motor and a three-cylinder gasoline engine. The engine’s power is transferred to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission while the electric motor boosts the front wheels through a two-speed automatic gearbox. This melding is the product of a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that gives it that road- hugging dynamic performance. The added electric power and range in the new model is thanks to a higher-capacity lithium-ion battery, which grows to 11.6 kWh with a claimed electric-only range of 29 kilometres. The Roadster’s combustion engine is unchanged with an output of 228 hp from its displacement of just 1.5 liters with a top torque of 236 lb-ft. Combined with the electric motor, the system has increased its output to 369 hp and accelerates 0 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.
In SPORT mode, things get intense. The car drops the tame attitude and revs it up with an appropriate growl to satisfy the sports car experience. The power from both units is sharper, faster, and there is maximized power from the propelled electric motor. Also, to keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode activates maximum energy recuperation on the overrun and under braking. The display switches to orange-coloured dials that add an rpm readout and gear indicator. It’s exhilaratingly fun on an open road or for red light sprints.
Steering is quick, and handling the i8, in general, is a treat and a half. Included as standard are a cruise control system with braking function and the Driving Assistant with Surround View. This system has Frontal Collision warning with City Collision Mitigation Daytime Pedestrian Protection Park Distance Control, sensors at the front and rear, Automatic Highbeams, Speed Limit Info, and Side and Top View Cameras.
The i8 can be recharged from a standard domestic socket in less than 4.5 hours. Hooking up to a BMW i Wallbox allows charging to be performed at a rate of up to 3.6 kW and completed in less than three hours.
Forward-thinking rarely relies on practicality to innovate, and the BMW i8 Roadster hardly relies on the conventional to demonstrate a new dimension of driving. With the top down and being closer to the outside world, every drive will have a story. It will dance with your ego when you undoubtedly stand out in every crowd, but it will also flirt with your love of technology and comfort your environmental concerns. Regardless of any profound reasoning, the i8 Roadster will deliver a purely emotional drive every single time you are behind the wheel.
Photos Courtesy of BMW.