The i8 Roadster takes all the coupe’s futuristic features and tops them off with a slinkier body and a folding fabric roof. It’s more expensive, however, and has two seats instead of four
The BMW i8 Roadster is a convertible version of the futuristic i8 Coupe. It packs supercar-like performance into an eye-catching package that’s sure to attract even more attention at the local petrol station than the likes of the Honda NSX and Audi R8 Spyder.
Not that you’ll need to refuel the i8 Roadster very often – it is a hybrid after all. Fully charge its batteries (which you can do in three hours using a dedicated wall charger) and you can drive for around 30 miles in electric-only mode.
When the batteries have run out of juice – or put your foot down to accelerate hard – the 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine starts up instantly to lend a hand. Together, they produce 374hp – enough to sprint the i8 Roadster from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and on to a 155mph top speed.
In Sport mode, the petrol engine stays running the whole time which helps make the BMW feel even more responsive on a twisty country road. As an added bonus, it also re-charges the batteries on the move and produces some sporty crackles and wooshes that sound terrific – especially with the roof down.
If it starts raining, don’t worry – you can raise the roof electrically at up to 30mph. It does an excellent job of muting any unpleasant wind noise at motorway speeds and leaves enough headroom inside for you to get comfortable, even if you’re over six-feet tall.
The Roadster’s frenetic 1.5-litre petrol engine makes it sound a bit like you’re being chased by an irate hot hatch every time you push the accelerator – especially with the roof down
Speaking of space inside, the i8 Roadster doesn’t get a pair of back seats like the coupe. Instead, you get a more usable luggage storage shelf that’s big enough to carry three large soft bags. Combine this with an extra storage bin under the BMW’s engine cover and you actually get slightly more luggage space in the Roadster than in the hard-top.
Identical to the coupe, however, is the roadster’s cabin design. Its simple, minimalist layout means everything’s easy to use and plenty of plush leather and brushed metal trims make sure it feels much posher inside than the likes of the Honda NSX. You also get one of the most intuitive infotainment systems around and a cool digital driver’s display instead of conventional analogue dials as standard.
Other high-tech features fitted as standard include automatic emergency braking that’ll perform an emergency stop if it detects an obstacle in the road ahead. The i8 hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but features such as this help make it a very safe sports car, and one of the very best hybrid performance cars on sale.