2019 BMW I8 Plug-in Hybrid Convertible

2019 MODEL
$163,300

6.6

Overall Rating

INDIGO

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide


CARHP Editorial Updated on: October 23, 2019


There's someone new in the house of BMW, the one that always feels something out of a science fiction movie. The 2019 BMW i8 Roadster is added as a new trim for those who prefer the sky over their heads instead of a carbon-fiber roof. With it, the i8 finally feels like a wholesome car that has nothing that can be felt less than appealing to anyone. It is hard to notice that such a performance-oriented car is a 'go-green' initiative.

Starting at $163,300, the Roaster packs with a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that is further coupled with an 11.6 kW-h battery-powered electric motor. The dup generates a combined power of 369 horses, which is more than any previous iteration of the i8. The roof is a slick piece of work as well. It can be converted in less than 15 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph.

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Pros

Powerful gasoline-electric hybrid engine

Exclusive head-turner Convertible design

Good soft roof speed

Good fuel economy from a hybrid

Cons

High price tag

More electric range would be appreciated

Difficulty getting in and out

What's New?

A new convertible version

Tuned for more power and range


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$163300

bodystyle

2dr Convertible

passenger capacity

2

drivetrain

AWD

engine type

displacement

91 cu. in.

horsepower

369 hp @ 5800 rpm

torque

420 lb.-ft. @ 0 rpm

transmission

6-speed shiftable automatic

chassis

suspension front

Independent double wishbone suspension w/anti-roll bar

suspension rear

Independent multi-link suspension w/anti-roll bar

brake rotors (f/r)

13.4-in. four wheel ventilated disc brakes/13-in. four wheel ventilated disc brakes

dimensions

wheelbase

110.2 in.

length

184.9 in.

width

76.5 in.

height

50.7 in.

curb weight

3671 lbs.

ground clearance

4.5 in.

capacity

passenger volume

39.9 cu ft.

cargo volume

41 cu ft.

payload capacity

617 lbs.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

27/27/TBD mpg

warranty

basic warranty

4 years/50000 miles

drivetrain warranty

4 years/50000 miles

corrosion warranty

12 years/unlimited

roadside assistance

no


Pictures & Videos


Ratings

Features

7.0

Engine And Performance

8.0

Fuel Economy

5.0

Exterior

9.0

6.6

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Base

Base

power
228 hp @ 5800 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded (required)
mpg
27 combined

$163,300


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
2dr Convertible AWD (1.5L 3cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 6A) Starting at $163,300 MSRP (27/27/) 228 hp @ 5800 rpm, 1.5 L, I-3, premium unleaded (required)
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 2   E-Copper w/Highlight Frozen Grey Metallic
  Sophisto Grey Metallic w/Frozen Grey Accent
  Donington Grey Metallic
  Sophisto Grey Metallic w/BMW i Frozen Blue Accent

Expert Review

6.6

Overall Rating


Unlike the four-year-old BMW i8 Coupe, the Roaster is a new member of the family. On the inside, the Roadster gets similar packages that are available with the regular Coupe version. It's quite hard to find rivals of such an astonishing car. However, we believe that the Audi R8 Spyder goes neck to neck in terms of design and power, though there is nothing 'Mission Impossible'-like that can match the stunning look of the BMW i8 Roadster. Several of its American competitors give the i8 a stiff competition for its performance value.

2019 BMW i8 front view
2019 BMW i8 front view
2019 BMW i8 rear view
2019 BMW i8 rear view

7.0/10
Features

 

8.0/10
Engine and Performance

 

5.0/10
Fuel Economy

 
 

9.0/10
Exterior

 
 
 
 

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Features

7.0/10

Starting at an MSRP of $163,300, the Standard World trim features a power-operated soft-top that works efficiently with a button press. It works at a speed of 30 mph. You also get 20-inch BMW light-alloy radial-spoke Bicolor wheels. The Tera World package includes features such as Black brake calipers, Leather engine cover, Headliner in Anthracite, BMW i-Blue seatbelts, Ceramic controls, Tera Exclusive Dalbergia Brown leather upholstery with cloth accents.

BMW has provided two optional packages for the i8, the Tera World, and the Tera World Copper. Both packages can be availed at an extra cost of $2,500.The Tera World Cooper package adds luxury features like Black brake calipers, Leather engine cover, Headliner in Anthracite, Ceramic controls, E-Copper Exclusive leather upholstery with cloth accents.

Trims BMW i8 Roadster
MSRP $163,300
Features Hybrid 1.5L inline-3 with an electric motor
  Leather And Alloy Steering Wheel
  Laser Headlights
  Electrochromic Inside Rearview Mirror
  Electric Power Steering
  Interior Air Filtration
  Extended Cabin Heating/Cooling

We Recommend

There are not many options to choose from here. It depends on your own personal choice whether you want a carbon fiber top Coupe or roofless Convertible. There are a few optional packages that can lend you an extent to customization. Although,  they are more on the side of cosmetics rather than performance.

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Engine and Performance

8.0/10

"The i8's performance is impressive considering its efficient powertrain, not its relatively high price." -The Car Connection

Engine and Transmission

The 2019 i8 comes powered with a plug-in hybrid engine that is an ultimate performance churner. A 1.5-liter turbocharged engine produces 369 horsepower along with 420 pound-feet of torque. The power from the gas engine is transmitted to the rear wheels. 141 hp and 184 lb-ft of the total output belongs to the electric motor, which drives the front wheels.

2019 BMW i8 Engine
2019 BMW i8 Engine

In pure electric mode, the electric motor powered by an 11.6-kWh battery allows the i8 to travel up to 18 miles. It efficiently fills the torque gap that comes from the small engine, so you never feel out of power when clipping the apex. Effectively, the i8 is an AWD that manages its power and efficiency better than any other performance car in its price range. 

Models

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Convertible

MSRP

$163,300

$177,100

$125,850 $139,900

Engine

1.5L I-3 Turbocharged Gas/Electric

5.2L  FSI V10

5.0L Supercharged V8 3.0L Twin-Turbo H-6

Transmission

6-Speed Automatic

7-Speed S Tronic Manual

8-Speed ZF Automatic 7-Speed Dual-Disc Clutch Manual

Horsepower

369

532

575 450

Torque(lb-ft)

420

398

516 405

Although the i8 offers excellent power output from its gas/electric hybrid powertrain, all gas-guzzlers in this price range offer more than that. The F-Type leads the charge with 575 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque from its massive V8 engine. The i8 may look futuristic, but its 6-speed automatic transmission feels quite aged. The Audi R8's S Tronic dual-clutch transmission feels much smoother when shifting gears.

Acceleration

The 2019 BMW i8 Roadster manages to sprint 60 mph from a standstill in 4.4 seconds. The acceleration part is quite impressive under Sport mode where both the gas and electric motor work together to deliver power to all four wheels. The acceleration is spellbinding. Unlike other gas-powered vehicles, the grunt of the engine feels more like a whim as you put the pedal to the metal. The force is enough to put your head against the seat and there is no wheelspin to be felt.

2019 BMW i8
2019 BMW i8 Acceleration

Models

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Convertible

0-60 MPH

4.4 sec

3.3 sec

4.1 sec 3.4 sec

Quarter mile

12.4 sec

11.5 sec

12.3 sec 11.9 sec

Engine

1.5L I-3Turbocharged Gas/Electric

5.2L V10

5.0L Supercharged V8 3.0L Twin-Turbo H-6

Emission

(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

4.79

9.66

11.36 7.95

The electric-only power delivery gets you instant torque but fails to offer quick acceleration. That is apparent when you compare the i8 with similarly priced gasoline convertibles. The Audi R8 Spyder gets ahead of the pack with a quarter-mile drag time of 11.5 seconds. On the flip side, the hybrid powertrain would save you a lot of money long term as far as EPA's emission taxes are concerned.

Braking

The brake pedal feels responsive with adequate travel to let you gain control of the car at any speed. The regenerative braking system feels smoother than similar systems on other EVs. IT is absent of the jerks and inconsistent response times, behaving just like any normal disc brakes would. The regenerative braking harnesses the kinetic energy usually lost during braking, utilizing it to charge the battery instead. 

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Convertible

Brake Front (in.)

13.4

14.4

15.0 13.8

Brake Rear (in.)

13.0

14

14.8 13.0

Curb Weight (lbs.)

3501

3737

3792 3451

60-0 MPH (ft.)

101

103

109 93

However advanced the braking system may be, it still cannot beat the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 S for its old school formula of big brakes and lighter chassis. Still, the BMW does come close, with a respectable 101 feet of stopping distance from 60 mph.

Ride and Handling

'Unique' is the only word that would pop into your head when driving the i8. The steering is very responsive, almost telepathic in nature. It makes you question if they used some sort of futuristic technology to read the driver's mind before the car makes a turn. You never feel short of power at any speed and it is always a thrill to give in to your instincts and let the throttle loose. With the top up, there is barely any sound inside the cabin, thanks to the car's excellent acoustics and noise cancellation from the Harman Kardon audio system.

With the roof down, you can experience the awe of the hybrid powertrain in its full swing. It is not silent as most EVs but rather produces a whizz that feels deeply satisfying every time you hit the high revs. The adjustable suspension is compliant with your needs. It can provide a comfortable ride when out on the open road and aid to keep the car gripped when on the track.

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Fuel Economy

5.0/10

The best thing about the i8 is its impressive fuel economy. Don't be fooled by the tiny size of the fuel tank. The BMW i8 Roadster makes sure every drop of fuel is consumed in the best possible way. The car can go for 22 miles on a fully charged battery alone. The 1.5L turbocharged gasoline engine offers 28 mpg combined fuel economy, which in itself is best in its class. When working in tandem with the electric motor, the BMW i8 can deliver a whopping 69 mpge combined rating.

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Convertible

MPG (city)

N/A

14

15 18

MPG (highway)

N/A

25

23 26

MPG (combined)

28

19

18 21

Tank Capacity (gal)

11.1

21.9

18.5 17.9

The fuel economy of the i8 Roadster is simply unmatched by other convertibles in its segment. The closest any car comes to it is the Porche 911, and that too falls short by a large margin. Part of the reason is the size of the engine. 1.5L is not a whole lot. Even most family hatchbacks have bigger engines.

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Interior

"The i8's steeply raked front roof pillars, wide doorsills and upward-opening doors make getting in and out cumbersome. At least the seating position is textbook sports car. The coupe's rear seat is tiny and too small for adults." -Edmunds

Seating and Comfort

The BMW's insistence on the scissor doors on the i8 is a cool thing to witness but not a whole lot practical. It poses a problem for taller passengers to climb into the cabin. Just like the coupe, the rear visibility is very limited if you are driving with the top up. You may have to rely a lot on the surround-view camera to get a good bead on your surroundings. Things get a lot easier with the roof down.

2019 BMW i8 front seat
2019 BMW i8 front seat

The cabin's design shares cues from other BMW cars, though decorated with orange seats and stitching, as well as plenty of carbon fiber. The seats are 6-way power adjustable and have height adjustment, offering a wide range of customization to suit any driver. The climate control works well and the cabin reaks of BMW's top-notch build quality. Where the i8 coupe has limited space in the back seats, the Roadster instead uses it for storing the roof. 

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible Porsche 911 Carrera GTS 4 Convertible

Passenger capacity

2

2

2 4

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

38.7/56.7/43.1

38.5/55.1/40.9

37.0/56.5/42.8 N/A

Weight Distribution(F/R)

51/49

42/58

52/48 39/61

Infotainment

Over the dash is BMW's familiar 8.8-inch touchscreen iDrive infotainment system. The screen supports pinch-to-zoom gestures, though it is easier to use the console-mounted jog controller to operate the system. The system is easy to get used to and is responsive to commands. The navigation system is a highlight. The i-ConnectedDrive system uses topographical and traffic information to calculate the most optimum route. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay for those looking to gain more out of the voice command system, though Android users are out of luck.

2019 BMW i8 infotainment
2019 BMW i8 Infotainment Display

Some of the major infotainment features are as follows:

  • Remote Climate Control
  • Proximity Sensing Keyless Entry
  • AM/FM Stereo
  • 360 Watts Stereo Output
  • Speed-Sensitive Volume Control
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • USB Connection
  • 1 Subwoofer
  • 12 Total Speakers
  • Harman/Kardon Premium Brand Stereo System
  • Surround Audio Surround Audio (Discrete)

Cargo Space

The BMW i8's design doesn't allow for a lot of practicality. Its tiny trunk is suited for nothing more than a backpack. The small-item storage is not that impressive either. Aside from a couple of cupholders and a glove box, you don't get a whole lot of compartments to store your stuff. Even the console is barely big enough to hold a wallet. Being a convertible is no excuse, since other convertibles in the segment offer much more cargo space.

2019 BMW i8 cargo area
2019 BMW i8 Cargo area

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Convertible

Cargo Volume (ft.3)

3.1

8.0

7.3 4.4
2019 BMW i8 steering
2019 BMW i8 steering
2019 BMW i8 instrumental cluster
2019 BMW i8 Instrumental cluster
2019 BMW i8
2019 BMW i8
2019 BMW i8
2019 BMW i8
2019 BMW i8 center console
2019 BMW i8 center console
2019 BMW i8 cargo area
2019 BMW i8 cargo area

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Exterior

9.0/10

"With styling unlike anything else in the world of exotic-performance cars, the 2019 BMW i8 is as much a fashion statement as it is a thrill ride." -Kelley Blue Book 

Design and Styling

The BMW i8 Roadster is as exciting to look at as to drive. The carbon-fiber construction shows off some seriously wild shapes, like the channels inset into the rear haunches that guide air around the bodywork as efficiently as possible. The i8 is low and wide, with its 20-inch wheels pushed far to the corners. And if the nose looks dramatic on its own, wait until you see the rear, where those air channels, sculpted taillights, and giant buttress come together to make a car that resembles something straight out of an Isaac Asimov novel.

2019 BMW i8 side view
2019 BMW i8 Side View

Visually, the i8 Roadster is even more good looking than the coupe, and that's saying something. By incorporating the hard-roof model's vestigial rear seats, the ragtop features an even lower roofline that emphasizes its supercar proportions. The roadster is offered with a power-folding fabric top, two silver decor elements on the B-pillar, and a new air shutter on the front hood, which also carries over to the refreshed coupe. This design was transformed because the previous model let the flow of air toward the cabin. It didn't matter much on the coupe but could make things bad in the roadster. No one likes a cabin that is too windy.

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Convertible

Curb weight (lbs.)

3501

3505

3792 3451

Length(in)

184.9

174.3

176.2 178.3

Width(in)

76.5

76.4

75.7 72.9

Height(in)

50.8

48.8

51.5 50.9

Ground clearance (in)

4.5

6.5

4.2 4.3

Wheelbase (in)

110.2

104.3

103.2 96.5

Track width (in) F/R

64.7/67.8

64.5/63

62.4/63.4 60.6/60.8

The i8 is certainly bigger than most other cars in its segment but thanks to the extensive carbon fiber utilized in the chassis, its weight is kept in check. Its impressive handling capabilities also allow it to maneuver easily in confined spaces as well. It doesn't match the ride height of the Audi R8 Spyder. In spite of that, its adjustable suspension is more than capable of delivering a comfortable ride on city roads.

2019 BMW i8 three quarter view
2019 BMW i8 three quarter view
2019 BMW i8 front view
2019 BMW i8 front view
2019 BMW i8
2019 BMW i8
BMW i8
BMW i8
2019 BMW i8 side view
2019 BMW i8 side view
2019 BMW i8 headlight
2019 BMW i8 headlight
2019 BMW i8 taillight
2019 BMW i8 taillight

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Safety

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has tested the 2019 BMW i8 Roadster for its crashworthiness. Nevertheless, you can count on the car's carbon-fiber chassis to keep the occupants safe during any crash. BMW also equips the i8 with a Pre-collision system that better prepares the driver and passenger if a crash is imminent. This includes tightening the seatbelts and producing a loud noise to prevent hearing loss. 

That doesn't mean that it is easy to crash this car. The i8 comes equipped with several advanced safety systems and driver aids that make the car sort of semi-autonomous to drive. The systems are state-of-the-art, just the kind you would expect from a performance car of the future. Just don't go expecting something out of 'Knight Rider'.

Safety Features

  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Brake Drying
  • Emergency Braking Preparation
  • Front Collision Warning with Emergency Braking Assist
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Post-Collision Safety System
  • Child Seat Anchors
  • Dual Front Side-Mounted Airbags
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Passenger Airbag Occupant Sensing Deactivation
  • Remote Anti-Theft Alarm System
  • Front And Rear Ventilated Disc Brakes
  • Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning
  • Dusk Sensing Headlamps
  • LED Headlamp
  • Traction Control
  • Pre-Collision Safety System

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Competition

BMW i8 vs. Audi R8

Both the BMW i8 and Audi R8 are flagship models from their respective German manufacturers. The i8 is a hybrid sports car while the R8 has gradually made its way to the supercar status in a short time. The i8 attracts us with its design and the latest technology while the R8 offers immense power via the V10 engine. The fuel economy delivered by the BW i8 is certainly better than the thirsty R8. True petrolheads would have no problem going for the R8 for its massively powerful V10 and the legendary Quattro AWD. For those who want a more robust and well-designed car that has more road presence, the i8 is the better pick.

2019 Audi R8
2019 Audi R8

BMW i8 vs. Jaguar F-Type SVR

The Jaguar F-Type is more of a classic signature and tribute to the past by Jaguar. It places the car just on the opposite spectrum of design of the i8, which is BMW's realization of the vision of the future of sports cars. There are no gray areas here. The Jag is the one that sticks with orthodox styling, with its smooth lines and a conventional body structure. The i8 is a glimpse into the future of the automobile industry. Even though both the cars are comparable, they appeal to a separate fan base altogether. The Jaguar F-Type SVR is for those who feel nostalgic about the past. The more technological generation would make more sense of buying an i8.

2019 Jaguar F-Type SVR
2019 Jaguar F-Type SVR

BMW i8 vs. Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS

The BMW i8 Roadster is one of the few cars that can come close to matching the 911 in terms of handling. The 911 Carrera 4 S is the one that has performance and the ability to fit in four people, but it is the BMW i8 that takes advantage in terms of technology. There is no comparison of looks either. Most 911s belong largely to the same outer shell, whereas the i8 is something that has unique aesthetics. It is a unique take by BMW that is sure to be reflected in years to come. The 911, however, needs a serious update with the times.

2019 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS
2019 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS

 

2019 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Final Verdict

The biggest selling point of the BMW i8 Roadster is its styling and futuristic design. It's the only plug-in vehicle in the class. Therefore, it's not an easy task to find a similar competitor. The carmaker has beautifully brought up this in a fresh avatar. As far as the appeal is concerned, there's no other car like the i8 Roadster. If you don't care much about going electric and the beauty of the car, there are several other gas-guzzlers that offer superior performance for the same price.

FAQs

Does the BMW i8 have 4 seats?

The BMW i8 Coupe comes with a 2+2 seat arrangement, though the rear seats are too small to accommodate adults. The i8 Roadster is a 2-seater only.

How long does the i8 need to charge?

The 11.6 kWh battery aboard the i8 can be fully charged in 2 hours from any DC Fast-Charging station. It takes just over 3 hours to charge from a regular power outlet.

Is the BMW i8 a reliable car?

Yes. The hybrid powertrain ensures that you would be using the electric motor for your city commutes, which has just one moving part and requires very little maintenance. Even the 1.5L turbocharged engine, which is the same as on the Mini Cooper S, does not disappoint either.

Is the i8 an AWD car?

Kind of. The gas engine drives the rear wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. An electric motor drives the front wheels through a 2-speed automatic transmission. Both the systems deliver the power independently, yet work in tandem with the i8's advanced ECU that ensures maximum power is delivered without any loss in traction in all four tires.