Hair shirts are no longer a necessity for eco-warriors, says Sarah Moore.
“As a general rule of thumb, mid-engined exotica and environmental friendliness go together like a room full of lambs and a very hungry wolf,” says What Car. However, the new BMW i8 Roadster allows you to “get yourself a flash set of wheels while giving the Earth a nice big hug”.
To drive, the Roadster is admittedly not much different from an i8 Coupé, “but with the option to test some sun cream and hair care products”, says Stuart Gallagher in Evo. Indeed, “if you’re hoping the new i8 has been transformed into a precise, 911-esque supercar, you’re going to be disappointed”, says Curtis Moldrich in Car. However, the driving experience is “significantly better this time around”. The old coupé’s “slightly vague”, fast steering has been replaced by a wheel that gives far more feedback than before, the brakes are more intuitive, and the change from energy regeneration to physical braking feels “relatively seamless”.
The i8’s EV-only mode, with a B-road friendly top speed, isn’t a tacked-on afterthought, says Moldrich – it’s another, fully developed side to the car’s personality. It’s obviously not as quick as using both petrol and electric power, but it allows you to experience a totally different style of driving. A benefit of the larger-capacity battery cells is that the i8 Roadster will now happily drive along under electric power alone at speeds up to 75mph, says Gallagher, with a range of up to 33 miles.
“Oh, and the butterfly doors return too,” says Moldrich. “Great for supercar drama, less so for finding a parking space.”
Engine: 3-cylinder, turbo-charged 1.4 litre engine and 105kW electric motor; Power: petrol – 228bhp; electric –141bhp. Torque: petrol – 236 lb ft; electric – 184 lb ft. Top speed: 155mph. 0-62mph: 4.6 seconds. Price: £124,735.