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2019 BMW i8: Futuristic is Now

By Arv Voss, June 15th, 2019

Once in awhile, a special vehicle arrives on the scene that stirs one's emotions and stuns all of their senses. Enter the 2019 BMW i8 Plug-in Electric Hybrid roadster. Its visual appeal and sustainable purpose, ranks it at the pinnacle of BMW's eDrive lineup.

-- OVERVIEW

The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster is a two-seater that comes with a lightweight, fully electric, soft convertible top that operates in under 16 seconds up to 31 mph. Mobility comes via BMW's optimized eDrive technology with an additional 12 horsepower. Power for the hybrid-specific, all-wheel-drive Roadster comes from two sources: a hybrid AC electric synchronous motor; and a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine.

The gas engine drives the rear wheels, while the electric motor propels the front wheels. It also has two transmissions: a six-speed automatic for the gas engine and a two-stage gearbox for the electric motor.

-- POWER DETAILS

The 1.5-liter gas engine with TwinPower Turbo technology produces 228 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 141 horsepower BMW eDrive technology electric motor is a hybrid AC synchronous motor with power electronics, integrated charging module, and generator mode for recuperation. Energy comes from a more powerful and refined high-voltage 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery with increased capacity and range, which is centrally located in the car's underbody, with its cell capacity up to 34 ampere hours. Torque is rated at 185 lb.-ft.

The BMW i8 is capable of running exclusively on electricity at speeds up to 75 mph, with the range limited to 18 miles.

Fuel capacity is 11 gallons, extending the total range to 320 miles in Comfort mode. Acceleration from 0-to-60 mph is achieved in 4.4 seconds. The total combined system output is 369 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. Top speed is limited to 155 mph. Charge time is roughly three hours at 240V.

-- EMOTIONALLY STIRRING DESIGN

The new BMW i8 Roadster's styling displays individual highlights that exude elegance. The lines are clean and minimalist with smooth-flowing surfaces defined by precise edges and function-focused details that showcase the status of the BMW i8 as the most futuristic-looking car in its segment.

The roof retracts fully into an aft compartment with the rear window serving as a draft stop as the three segments of the roof stow vertically into a "Z" configuration. Powerfully formed wheel arches draw attention to the wide track. Scissor-style doors open forward and upward in wing-like fashion.

-- COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

The center console design displays a layering approach, through dynamically curving lines with the gearshift lever, the iDrive Controller operating system, the start/stop button, the eDrive button, and the Driving Experience Control switch.

Five driving modes allow for adjusting efficiency and dynamic performance. With the automatic transmission's electronic gear selector, the driver may also use the Driving Experience Control switch or, exclusively to the i8, the eDrive button. Modes consist of D for automated gear selection in COMFORT and ECO PRO modes, SPORT mode, and eDrive for pure-electric driving.

-- AS TESTED

My test 2019 BMW i8 Roadster base price was set at $163,300, which came to $166,795 after adding options and destination and handling charges. The i8 Roadster's driving experience is exhilarating, once positioned inside. Settling in, the seats are highly supportive as well as quite comfortable. Switchgear is optimally placed for user friendliness, and outward visibility is very good.

Acceleration is incredible, as is braking. Handling characteristics deliver instantaneous response with excellent feedback. The BMW i8 Roadster exhibits solid stability during spirited maneuvers on tight, twisting mountain roads. The all-wheel drive delivers a balanced and neutral behavior.

SPORT mode allows for controlled interaction between the electric motor and combustion engine to be experienced at its most intense performance thanks to an eBoost function and a front axle motor plus rear engine motor / generator overboost function.

-- THE FINAL TAKE

The BMW i8 Roadster is more visually stunning than several Ferrari models and it's also more unique, along with being considerably more affordable.

With the 2019 BMW i8 Roadster, the future draws ever closer, exemplifying advanced sustainability and efficient dynamics -- not to mention exquisite form and function in a package without range anxiety.

Specifications

Base price $163,300 (as tested: $166,795)
Curb weight 3,513 lbs.
Displacement 1.5-liter
Engine type 3-cyl TwinTurbo + BMW eDrive
Epa mileage rating 27 mpg Gas engine combined city, highway // 69 mpg Gas + Electric combined city highway
Fuel capacity 11.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 369 total system output
Overall length 184.6 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 420 total system output
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 2-passenger hybrid roadster
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