2019 BMW i8 Roadster: Quantum Leap

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Experienced by Kimatni D Rawlins, Photos by Garvin St. Villier

When the imaginative BMW i8 Roadster rolled into Automotive Rhythms’ driveway for a weekly evaluation I immediately cancelled all scheduled activities, ignited the hybrid powertrain, dropped the top and allowed the streets to take precedence! The sports car’s fanatical silhouette will attract attention from every human demographic as I discovered during journeys within Maryland and Virginia. People were so awestruck by the i8 that you would have thought we quantum leaped into a galactic scene from the hit sci-fi series “The Expanse.”

The AWD 2019 i8 Roadster is brilliant in every respect. It’s flawless almost, especially when selected with the new E-Copper metallic hue. Contrast is established by the black denim-like fabric top, black lip spoiler and hood ornamentation, 20” BMW i light-alloy multi-colored rims and a two-toned rear fascia. Aluminum scissor doors and opening of the power-retractable soft-top exposes driver and passenger to nature’s elements as well as endless attention and inquiries. However, proper entry and exit technique must be established so you are casual and calm to onlooking bystanders. I typically squat a bit, roll in “rear first” and allow my legs to swing around. LED headlights and LED accent lights with programmable daytime running lights, along with BMW i specific kidney grilles highlight the high-tech front fascia.

The vehicle moves either rapidly and energetically or docile and quietly depending on your mood. Maybe you wish to conserve fuel and cruise in eDRIVE mode (up to 18 all-electric miles) while giving off the peaceful sounds of fish in water. The vehicle’s Driving Dynamics Control can also be set in ECO PRO, COMFORT or SPORT mode. Or, there will be instances when you feel like jetting — as I did often — to show a Vette’ and 911 just how potent and proficient the i8’s TwinPower Turbo 3-cylinder truly is. The resonance of the exhaust is electrifying when you full throttle the i8.

Combining with BMW eDrive technology, the hybrid sports car flies with the wind from total torque output of 420 lb-ft and aggregate horsepower of 369 (+12). Expect preliminary 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 4.4 seconds. One of the most menacing and effective i8 character features are the air duct tunnels that run from the rear lights to the roof frame. In addition to enhancing the i8’s “fast when still” profile, they channel air efficiently which leads to better fuel economy, less turbulence and greater acceleration.

AWD performance stems from a unique system that pairs the rear axle with the 3-cylinder gasoline engine (228-horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque) and its corresponding 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission; and the front axle with the electric motor (141-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque) and a 2-speed automatic transmission. From standstill acceleration happens instantaneously. When maneuvering the vehicle is just as dynamic and agile into and out of turns. Additionally, BMW’s advancements in the eDrive technology department have been successful increasing energy storage of the 11.6-kWh lithium-ion battery. Moreover, typical BMW enhancers such as Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Damper Control, Dynamic Brake Control and Cornering Brake Control amplify your vehicle’s safety capabilities.

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My i8 Roadster’s cockpit was blessed with the new Tera World Copper trim, carbon fiber accents, a 3-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function sports steering wheel (tilt is manual however), simple-to-remove Velcro floormats, BMW Ambient Lighting, Head-up Display, Concierge Services and BMW iDrive featuring an 8.8” touchscreen, touchpad controller and the typical 8-programmable memory buttons for storing radio stations, map destinations, etc. Dully note that ultimate comfort depends on the size of the driver. BMW convertible cabins, including the i8, are usually narrow so drivers and passengers over 6’ tall may not enjoy longer drives. You will also need to travel light on road trips since trunk space is minimal. But, you will find three storage bins behind the seats that fit items as large as backpacks. Also, the harman/kardon premium audio system needs an upgrade as my tunes were drowned out when the top was dropped, even at slower speeds.

The 2019 BMW i8 Roadster is absolutely electrifying and a seductive collector’s item for auto aficionados wishing to transition over to cleaner energy sources, yet still require top rated performance. For $163,300 you can become a member of the BMW i brand while friends and foes alike admire your transportation device with exaggerated euphoria. Just ask my teen daughters who still come home from school with hero stories from their i8 exploits!

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