The allure of sustainable driving is poised to enter another new dimension as BMW introduced the 2019 BMW i8 matching BMW eDrive technology with the Ultimate Driving Machine. The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster takes the BMW i8’s combination of locally emission-free mobility, high-caliber performance and adds the top-down driving experience. The Roadster offers a whole new sensation of freedom, opening the door to virtually silent driving with zero CO2 emissions and bringing an extra edge of purity to open-air driving. An optimized BMW eDrive technology means more power – total output increased to 369 hp (+12 hp), a refined high-voltage battery with increased capacity and range, the BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles in purely electric driving. With hybrid-specific all-wheel drive, combustion engine driving the rear wheels and the electric motor driving the front wheels, acceleration 0 to 60 mph takes just 4.2/4.4 seconds Coupe and Roadster respectively with both reaching an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
With its intoxicating blend of advanced BMW eDrive technology, BMW TwinPower Turbo technology internal combustion engine, sophisticated chassis technology, hybrid-specific all-wheel drive and rigorously applied lightweight design measures, the 2019 BMW i8 has come to epitomize the future of the Ultimate Driving Machine. Since its market debut in 2014, it has established itself as the world’s highest-selling plug-in hybrid sports car. It succeeds in melding sports car performance qualities with the sort of fuel economy and emissions usually associated with compact models. The LifeDrive architecture, meanwhile, ensures a perfect distribution of weight.
The 2019 BMW i8 are powered by a drive duo in the form of a hybrid synchronous electric motor and BMW TwinPower Turbo technology 1,499 cc 3-cylinder gasoline engine (228 hp and 236 lb-ft). The engine’s power is channeled to the rear wheels through a 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, while the electric motor propels the front wheels via a two-speed automatic gearbox. The end result is a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that glues the car to the road.
The constant process of development has enhanced the performance capabilities offered by BMW’s eDrive technology. The energy capacity of the latest version of the model-specific lithium-ion battery is far greater, battery cell capacity having increased from 20 to 34 ampere hours (Ah) and gross energy capacity from 7.1 to 11.6 kilowatt hours (kWh, net energy capacity: 9.4 kWh). This advance is rooted primarily in advances made to the battery cell technology, which in turn stem from the BMW Group’s ever-increasing expertise in the field of electrical energy storage.
These extra energy reserves have made it possible to raise the electric motor’s peak output by 12 hp to 141 hp. In typical electric motor fashion, it generates its maximum torque of 184 lb-ft from standstill, which means it is ideally equipped to deliver razor-sharp responses to the slightest movement of the accelerator. The electric motor also stands out with its consistent power delivery up to very high revs.
The battery cells’ higher capacity means that the proportion of all-electric driving can be increased substantially, even in hybrid mode. With the default driving mode engaged, the 2019 BMW i8 are capable of pulling away and reaching speeds of up to 65 mph purely on the electric motor’s power, making it possible to drive with zero local emissions. And if the eDrive button is pressed, the all-electric threshold of both models is increased to 75 mph. The new high-voltage battery benefits the electric range of the two plug-in hybrid sports cars too. The BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles in purely electric driving, almost 30 percent more than before.
The i8’s combustion engine has also undergone further optimization to ready it for the new Coupe and Roadster. The turbocharged three-cylinder unit featuring direct injection and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing extracts a maximum output of 228 hp from its displacement of just 1.5 liters, plus peak torque of 236 lb-ft. It is pleasantly refined and generates a distinctive soundtrack that now has an even sportier note when its power reserves are called upon.
The system output produced by the electric motor and gasoline engine acting in unison has increased to 369 hp in the 2019 BMW i8. The new BMW i8 Coupe accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, while the first ever BMW i8 Roadster accelerates in 4.4 seconds. Both models have an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Combined fuel economy in everyday driving, both models return fuel economy and emissions figures that undercut those for conventionally powered sports cars with similar outputs by around 50 per cent, yielding approximately 70 MPGe.
DRIVING DYNAMICS CONTROL
Drivers will find an eDrive button in the center console alongside the Driving Experience Control switch to allow them to adapt not just the vehicle’s set-up but also the drive system’s operating strategy. This provides a total of five driving modes to choose from: hybrid drive with COMFORT, SPORT or ECO PRO settings and all-electric driving in COMFORT or ECO PRO mode. If the eDrive button is pressed in either COMFORT mode – which strikes an even balance between sporty and efficient characteristics – or ECO PRO mode (designed for particularly fuel-efficient driving), power is provided by the electric motor alone up to a speed of 75 mph. The combustion engine will only cut in automatically if the battery’s energy reserves are nearly fully depleted or the driver summons full power via kickdown.
It is in SPORT mode that the intelligently controlled interaction between electric motor and combustion engine can be experienced at its most intense. Both power units deliver extra-sharp performance, accelerator response is faster and the power boost from the electric motor is maximized. And to keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode also activates maximum energy recuperation on the overrun and under braking. The intelligent energy management mode of operation can be visualized by calling up the energy flow graphic in the Control Display via the iDrive menu.
The progressive style of the 2019 BMW i8 also shines through clearly in their interior design. Standard specification for both models includes a sports steering wheel and multifunctional instrument display, plus Giga interior trim comprising full-leather upholstery in Ivory White for the Coupe and Ivory White/Black for the Roadster. Giga interior trim can alternatively be specified in dark Amido for both models and there is also the option of Halo interior trim featuring cloth/leather upholstery in a Carum/Dalbergia color scheme.
New to the portfolio for the 2019 BMW i8 is Tera World Copper interior trim, a high-end option featuring cloth/leather upholstery in an Amido/E-Copper color scheme.
TRIM LEVELS & PRICING
The 2019 BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid sports car available as a coupe or soft-top convertible. The i8 Coupe is four-passenger, while the i8 Roadster has only 2 seats.
Standard equipment include 20-inch alloy wheels, a driver-adjustable suspension, LED headlights and taillights, LED foglights, LED running lights, automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, driver-seat memory settings, a head-up display, a navigation system, BMW’s iDrive infotainment interface with an 8.8-inch central display screen, a USB port, a Harman Kardon audio system, satellite radio and HD radio. Also included are BMW smartphone app integration, BMW Remote Services and Apple CarPlay.
The optional Tera World package adds special interior trim and unique cloth and leather upholstery. Laser headlights are also available.
The 2019 BMW i8 Coupe has Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting about $148,500, including the $995 destination charge. The i8 Roadster starts around $164,300. Adding options can bring the i8 crosses the $160,000-$175,000 barrier.