2019 BMW i8 Roadster: More Juice in Your Tank, More Wind in Your Hair


Competes with: Porsche 911 Targa, Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Looks like: A “Targa” version of the swoopy BMW i8 coupe

Drivetrain: Turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine plus electric motor, totaling 369 horsepower; 11.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery; six-speed automatic transmission (from gas engine to the rear wheels) plus two-speed automatic (from the electric motor to the front wheels)

Hits dealerships: Spring 2018

CARS.COM — BMW has updated its hybrid electric i8 model, giving it more power, more range, a bigger battery and most significantly — a new roadster model that features a powered convertible top. 

Related: More 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show Coverage


The changes externally are minimal, with few design differences between the 2018 and 2019 coupe. But the big news is obviously the roadster, which loses the two vestigial “plus 2” rear seats in favor of a power-retractable soft-top and separate articulated rear window. The insulated fabric panel folds into a Z formation and stows underneath a hard tonneau cover in just 16 seconds and at speeds up to 31 mph, according to BMW. If you worry that losing the roof means that the i8 will also lose its novel butterfly doors, fear not — the car retains its cool doors, ready to let you show off when you roll up to your destination. In addition to the new top, two new colors arrive for 2019 model year: E-Copper and Donnington Grey.

Under the Hood

The i8 coupe and roadster keep the car’s unusual and complicated hybrid setup: a turbocharged three-cylinder gas engine that powers the rear wheels under hard acceleration via a six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission combined with an electric motor that powers the front wheels full time using a two-speed automatic transmission. The two combine for seamless all-wheel drive, but for 2019 the system favors the electric drive even more, aiming to keep the car in electric mode more often. The gas engine acts as a generator to charge up the batteries most of the time, but can add power to the wheels directly when called upon.

The battery capacity has been boosted, too. It’s now an 11.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion unit. As a result, the i8’s electric-only range has increased and is now preliminarily rated at 18 miles by BMW. The zero-to-60-mph time has dropped to 4.2 seconds for the coupe. For the all-new roadster, the time is 4.4 seconds.

Five drive modes are again available, tailoring the car to the driver’s situation and desired responsiveness. The roadster receives 20-inch wheels as standard, but like the coupe offers four different design choices. Also standard is Dynamic Damper Control and an adjustable suspension for both models.


No styling changes have been made inside, but new colors and trim options have been created. Standard is a sport steering wheel and multifunction display, with Giga interior trim colors in Ivory White leather for the coupe and Ivory White/Black leather for the roadster. A dark Amido interior color is standard for both models, and the optional Halo interior trim features a Carum/Dalbergia color scheme, or spend a little more and opt for the high-end Tera World Copper interior trim.

The electronics include standard navigation with the latest BMW iDrive 6.0, which allows the user to use either the touch controller on the center console or the 8.8-inch touchscreen in the dash for input and control. The standard audio system is a Harman Kardon HiFi premium system with 12 speakers. A head-up display is also standard, which changes information displayed based on the drive mode.


The new 2019 i8 coupe and roadster both include standard adaptive cruise control, as well as the Driving Assistant Package. The safety package includes a surround-view camera, frontal collision warning with pedestrian detection and autonomous braking, front and rear parking sensors with cross-traffic alert, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The new i8 roadster and updated coupe will go on sale as 2019 models in spring 2018.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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