Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Sharper steering
  • Same engine – but more EV power
  • A more engaging car to drive

The i8 Roadster will go from a standing start to 62mph in just 4.6 seconds, thanks to its hybrid powertrain, so it’s essentially as fast as the previous model. It’s no slouch, but it’s not able to deliver the lightning-quick speed of some of its competitors. And that’s happened for two reasons.

The i8 Roadster is more of a GT car than a supercar, and secondly, a significant part of the Roadster’s powertrain is identical to that of the previous model.

The i8 Roadster sticks with the same 231hp 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine as the Coupe, but with an updated, denser battery producing the equivalent of 143hp, the i8’s Roadsters’ hybrid powertrain puts out a total of 374hp.

The result? It’s not slow but not as fast as some of its competitiors. Still, you can feel its quasi-four-wheel drive hybrid power dig itself out of corners even when there’s little grip.

With Sport mode engaged, the i8 Roadster can launch from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds, but it’s still not quite as fast as its supercar rivals. Sure, it has the handling and the excitement, but it lacks the overall pace.

The updated battery means the i8 Roadster can use electric power up to 70mph, and in EV-only mode it has all the torque and response you’d expect of a high-performance EV. Floor it, though, and the i8 will revert back to petrol and electric mode for safety reasons.

EV mode felt like an after though on the old i8, but in the new Roadster it’s a revelation, and offers a unique experience with the top down. Range is up to 33 miles now, and because EV mode now tops out at a much higher speed, you’ll want to push the car on more challenging roads without using the engine until the battery runs out.

If you want an i8, you’ll hopefully prefer hybrid engines with automatic gearboxes. Aside from the paddle gearbox, this car is automatic.

  • Much sharper
  • Still incredibly rigid – despite missing roof
  • Makes for a more engaging drive

The BMW i8 Roadster may look similar to the Coupe, but get behind the wheel and you’ll find a stark difference to the original hybrid.

The new Roadster (and the updated Coupe) is much more precise, and offers significantly improved feedback through its weightier steering wheel, too. And with more control and information, you’re more inclined to place the i8 Roadster on the road where you see fit.

In Sport mode and with the paddles enabled, the i8 will display a rev-counter on the head-up display to inform your gearchanges – and additional engine sound is also played through a loudspeaker on the left, rear underside of the car. It’s not something we’re totally sure about, but it does make for a louder, more supercar-esque soundtrack.