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Combining dramatic visual flair with solid green credentials, the i8 Roadster is a hybrid with its own unique flair.

05 Nov 2018

When it was first unveiled as a concept in 2011 and a production model in 2013, the BMW i8 was met with quite a bit of fanfare. This was supposed to be a sexy vision of an electrified future - a hybrid car that promised sports car styling, sports car performance and sports car handling, a distinct departure from the hybrids we were used to seeing.

BMW also showcased an i8 Spyder concept back in 2012, as well as a more dramatic doorless version called the i Vision Future Interaction. This amps up the visual and technological drama of the i8, taking BMW's vision of an exciting electrified future up another notch.

With its top down and butterfly doors up, the i8 exudes a visual presence that's hard to match

Now, the i8 Roadster is reality. We spent a day in Munich, Germany, driving it to find out just what it’s like.

Instant drama

The i8 Roadster certainly packs a visual punch. With its low profile, sculpted lines and flying buttresses, it's a car that anyone will stop to gawk at. While we were stopped at the side of a road waiting for the other car in our convoy to arrive, there was a car that literally stopped in the middle of the road to stare at the i8 Roadster.

Flip open the dramatic butterfly doors, slide yourself into the cabin, and you are greeted by a slathering of silver and blue. The cabin of the i8 Roadster is fundamentally unchanged from the Coupe, which means that while it's still ergonomic and easy to use, it isn't as exciting as the car's exterior.

The flying buttresses add to the car's visual drama

However, perhaps because we had just driven the brand new 8 Series the day before, the cabin of the i8 Roadster does show its age slightly.

Silent assault

Hit the start button and the car comes to life in silence. As we pull out onto the roads of Munich, we are immediately struck by the serenity and quietness of the cabin. Our route took through the varying kinds of roads, which certainly highlighted the many faceted character of the i8 Roadster.

You can drive in full-electric eDrive mode up to speeds of 120km/h

On one hand, you have the all-electric eDrive capability, very useful when driving through quiet small towns (often with a 30km/h speed limit). It's serene and effortless, with generous amounts of torque from the electric motor. 

Then, get onto some open country roads, stick the car into sport mode and you can really give it the beans. There's a slight lack of feel from the steering, but the car handles well, with good balance in corners and lots of power on tap. A 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine combines with the electric motor to produce 364bhp and 569Nm of torque. 

Shift the gear lever to the left to engage sport mode and you'll get maximum punch from the hybrid powertrain

On our way back into Munich, we got onto some unrestricted sections of the Autobahn. Here the i8 Roadster easily manages to gander along at 190km/h. However, the car doesn't feel the most stable at high speeds, and you do have to keep your hands on the wheel with the occasional steering correction. While it can certainly do it, it's not a car that enjoys cruising at 180km/h. Rather, it's much more comfortable cruising about silently, or else bombing along winding country roads. 

Styling out

Trying to parse the exact character of the i8 isn't so simple. It looks sporty, has ample power and handles well enough, but you wouldn't really call it a sports car. The soundtrack isn't inspiring, and the steering lacks feel and a sense of direct connection.

The i8 Roadster has 100 litres of storage capacity tucked away behind the seats

So, trying to buy into the idea that the i8 Coupe as a sports car is something of a stretch. However, the i8 Roadster is something quite different. You can't deny that the i8 Roadster is a notch up from the i8 Coupe, personality-wise. It's bolder, prettier and shoutier in its disposition, which is almost sort of the point.

With its $634,888 price tag here in Singapore (as of 2 November) no one's buying the i8 Roadster for its green credentials, as good as they may be. You're buying the car to make a statement. And the i8 Roadster is all about that.

The Roadster feels like the i8 in its most authentic and distilled form, as it is all about drama, flair and character

Roof down, cruising silently about town, the i8 is all about the show, and its one hell of a show. We'd argue that this is the i8 in it's most dramatic, extroverted and authentic form. No, this isn't a sports car, nor is it trying to be one. It's a car that's all about standing out, about making a difference and about daring to go boldly where others won't. With the i8 Roadster, you surely can.
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Car Information

BMW i8 Roadster 1.5 (A)
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There's a promotion for BMW i8 Roadster


: $640,888

Engine Type


3-cylinder 12-valve TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap





275kW (369 bhp) / 5800 rpm



320 Nm / 3700 rpm



6-speed (A) Steptronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption


47.6 km/L

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