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Review: 2019 BMW i8 Roadster
The Urban Supercar
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: The design is a work of art. A head turner everywhere you drive it
- What’s Worst: Hybrid electric drive with no ludicrous mode
- What’s Interesting: There are only 20 of these rare cars allocated to Canada
Courtesy of BMW Canada, I got to try out the 2019 BMW i8 Roadster for a week. Since it was summertime, I decided to drive it to Sarnia, Ontario just to take it to Canatara Park where there is 3000 feet of quiet beach on the Lake Huron shoreline. It is an awesome place for car photos.
The exotic car with butterfly doors and a sleek low profile was a head turner all across Southwestern Ontario. Anywhere I parked the car a small crowd immediately gathered to check out the car. Many selfies were taken, questions asked and kids requested to take a seat.
The Smart Plug-in Hybrid Drivetrain
The car is powered by BMW’s optimized eDrive technology. Both an electric motor and combustion engine work together to produce 369 hp and a zero to 100km/h time of 4.6 seconds. The electric motor delivers 141 hp to the front wheels using lithium ion batteries pinned on the underbelly that has a gross energy capacity of 11.6 kWh. The gas combustion engine is a 1.5 litre 3-cylinder turbo that delivers 228hp and 336 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels.
Here is why I call the i8 an urban supercar. There is an eDrive ECO PRO mode that enables the electric and gas engines to work together. When driving in traffic in the city, only the electric engine is used. No longer will your car expel greenhouse gases or waste any gas in traffic. When you need to accelerate onto the highway, the gas engine kicks in automatically. Both the electric motor and gas engine can work together to give you maximum acceleration. In addition, the energy recovery system of the smart eDrive recharges the batteries during overrun and under braking. If you put the car in sport mode, only the gas engine is used and it can recharge the batteries to 80% in less than an hour. Fuel and electric energy status is shown clearly on the dashboard.
Even though the battery is rated for a measly 50km of travel, the energy recovery system still allowed me to have electric engine availability on my entire 3 hour, 300km drive from Toronto to Sarnia. That’s smart!
For $720 you can get the BMW TurboCord EV Charger. The portable charger came with the test vehicle. You can plug the car into a standard 110V outlet. It took a long time to charge with 110V. After 8 hours of charging the battery was only 80% charged. A 240V charging station is definitely required.
Don’t expect to be able to see the eDrive technology under the hood. All the engine compartments are kept secret with a hood that can only be opened by a qualified BMW technician.
The roadster has a retractable all-season soft top that stows nicely behind the seats. You can open the roof in just 16 seconds while driving less than 50km/h. The rear design of the car with the curves directly behind the seats serve as a natural wind deflector. See video below as I demonstrate.
Storage capacity is small but efficiently designed. The trunk stores luggage the same size as the allowable carry on for overhead storage on a plane. Then there is a small compartment in the trunk that perfectly fits Chinese food take out.
There is additional storage space behind the seats below where the soft top is stored.
Connected Services Enabling Digital Lifestyle
You will love this car like your smartphone. As soon as I jumped in, I paired my phone and Apple CarPlay connected without issue with all my settings from my BMW M4. The car is also equipped with iDrive 6 with touch controls and a head-up display. The driving assistant shows when you are too close to the vehicle in front. The premium package comes with real time traffic updates with speed limits and traffic warnings showing on the dashboard as required.
This car is a work of art. It handles like a go-cart and is very fuel efficient in comparison to other super cars. ConnectedDrive seamlessly supports a digital lifestyle. It is perfect for the young Bay street professional who just got a nice bonus, living downtown, and looking for something that’s flashy to drive when out on a date at Toronto’s top restaurants.
2019 BMW i8 Roadster
Body Style: 2 seat roadster convertible
Drive Method: Plug-in Hybrid specific all-wheel drive. Electric drive powers front wheels while combustion engine powers rear wheels
Combustion Engine Transmission: 6 speed automatic
Electric Motor Transmission: 2 speed automatic
Cargo Capacity: Approximately 88 litres
Fuel Economy: 2.0L/100 km
Observed Fuel Economy: 6.0L/100 km
Price: $169,900 (base) as tested with Premium Package $178,300
Website: i8 Roadster
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