2020 BMW I8 Plug-in Hybrid Convertible

2020 MODEL
$163,300
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2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: March 7, 2020
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Aaron Smith

Automotive Journalist

Things come and things go, but what really matters is how that transforms the world around you. In order to do that, one simply cannot stick to the norms that govern the society, and that is the story of the BMW i8 Roadster. This Bimmer has the capability to shake some of the swanky sports cars to their cores even though it is barely half-way there.

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Pros

Exotic styling

Comfortable seats

Upmarket and luxurious cabin

Comfortable, all-around drivability

Power-folding soft-top

Cons

Cramped trunk

A bit overpriced

Compromised practicality

What's New?

The 2020 BMW i8 carries over unchanged from the previous year

An i8 Ultimate Sophisto Edition will end production of this Bimmer


Pictures

Exterior
Interior

Ratings

Features

8.0

Engine And Performance

7.0

Fuel Economy

9.0

Interior

9.0

Exterior

9.0

Safety

6.0

8.0

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Base

Base

power
TBD
fuel
Premium unleaded
mpg
68 combined

$163,300


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
2dr Convertible AWD (1.5L 3cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 6A) Starting at $163,300 MSRP (68/68/70) 1.5 L, Inline 3, premium unleaded
6-Speed Automatic all wheel drive 2

Expert Review

8.0

Overall Rating


BMW unveiled its Vision concept in 2009 giving the world a new and fresh design that attracted enthusiasts and on-lookers all the same. The i8 has been in production since 2014 with just one model, the Coupe. Finally, after a wait of over 5 years, BMW has now given us a convertible variant for the same. The i8 Roadster has a similar aesthetically pleasing design like that of its Coupe sibling. All the mechanical parts in the i8 pretty much remain the same.

Powered by the same 3 cylinder engine, the i8 is still a marvel in terms of generating huge power from the tiny engine. The all-wheel drive train gives the i8 the confidence to be the fastest it can. There are a lot of things to talk about when it comes to this beautiful hybrid drop-top. Let's dive right in.

2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible Front View
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible Rear View

8.0/10
Features

 

7.0/10
Engine and Performance

 

9.0/10
Fuel Economy

 

9.0/10
Interior

 

9.0/10
Exterior

 

6.0/10
Safety

 
 
 

2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Features

8.0/10

The i8 Roadster is available as a single trim offering. The list of standard features is extensive with a number of autonomous features to prove its mettle to stand out as a hybrid. The performance from this wonder is not as heavy on the gasoline consumption as most vehicles in the segment. The BMW is a treat to the eyes and gives a new outlook to the emerging EV trend.

Trim

Roadster

Ultimate Sophisto Edition

MSRP AWD

$163,300

N/A

Key features

Power-retractable soft top

Sophisto Grey exterior paint with E-Copper accents

 

BMW i U-shaped brake lights

Exclusive 20-inch style 516 wheels with E-copper finish

 

Carbon fiber interior trim

E-Copper leather upholstery

 

Apple CarPlay

Ultimate Sophisto Edition 1 of 200 interiors badging

 

Harman Kardon 12-speaker sound system

Ultimate Sophisto Edition door sills

 

SiriusXM

Black painted brake calipers

 

8.8-inch touchscreen

Ceramic controls

 

Automatic 2-zone climate control

Anthracite headliner

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A single trim option makes the purchase decision comparatively easy. There are options available for the personalization of the beamer. There are a couple of color options along with the Aero kit and the Adaptive LED headlight with laser light which are the only few options available.

2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Engine and Performance

7.0/10

i8 has a tiny engine that generates power which can be compared to that of a sports car. The 1.5L three-cylinder engine that has a mid-engine layout is supported by the twin-turbo setup. Under the hood are the dual 11.6-kWh electric motors that enhance the power generated by the engine. This hybrid layout is essentially what gives this car the capability to produce high-performance figures. The i8 was the first car to have proved that hybrid cars are not necessarily boring. on the contrary, they can produce higher power and contribute to a cleaner environment at the same time.

The transmission on the i8 is as unique as its hybrid power train. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission which is similar to the kind of transmission seen on the M3. The transmission on the i8 is not as smooth as the M3 during the downshifts. Another notable feature here is the 2-speed transmission that supports the electric motors. The transmissions are independent and function individually.

Models

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

MSRP

$163,300

$182,100

$133,400

$126,700

Engine

1.5-liter I3 premium

5.2-liter V10 premium

3.0-liter H6 premium

5.0-liter V8 premium

Transmission

6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual

7-speed auto-shift manual w/OD and auto-manual

8-speed auto-shift manual w/OD and auto-manual

8-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual

Horsepower

369 hp @ 5,800 rpm

562 hp @ 8100 rpm

443 hp @ 6,500 rpm

575 hp @ 6,500 rpm

Torque

420 lb.-ft. @ 3,700 rpm

406 lb.-ft. @ 6,400 rpm

390 lb.-ft. @ 2,300 rpm

516 lb.-ft. @ 3,500 rpm

The Jaguar here has the highest power outputs in the competition line-up. Whereas Audi has the biggest engine among all these vehicles. It is surprising that the R8 is overpowered by the SVR which has a smaller engine. The Porsche makes it to third place with its signature flat Boxster engine both in terms of engine power and capacity. The smallest and lowest capacity engine is that in the i8. 

How fast is the BMW i8 Roadster?

The i8 is undoubtedly quick which is what makes it fun to drive. The all-wheel drive train launches the car with high velocity. The engine feels very torquey and happy to respond to any feedback on the gas pedal. We all know the kind of torque electric motors is capable of generating. Tesla has been a beacon to the world in terms of showcasing the power of electric motors. i8 is the first hybrid sports car, this conveys the understanding BMW has about electric performance.  

2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible 0-60 MPH in just 4.4 sec

Its performance has only evolved over the years. With all the refinement and enhancement to the engine and the motors, this is the best version of the i8. The performance numbers can leave most baffled because of the size of the engine. Not many can comprehend the power that a hybrid car is capable of.

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Convertible

Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

0-60 MPH

4.4

3.3

3.5

3.5

Quarter Mile

12.5

11.4

11.8

N/A

Engine

1.5L I3

5.2L V10

3.0L H6

5.0L V8

Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/yr)

4.6

11.0

8.9

8.0

It is a close competition between the 4S and the SVR as both accelerate from 0-60 at a similar time. The Audi does not seem underpowered any more taking the cake in this comparison. The BMW stands at last with the slowest 0-60 time. But the i8 is the cleanest and the most emission friendly car on this list.

What about the braking performance of the BMW i8 Roadster?

There are no more questions left about the engine performance of the i8. But does it have enough power to halt at will? The i8 has some of the best brakes produced by BMW. The discs on all the wheels are high-performance cross-drilled and ventilated rotors. Another function called Brake Fade Compensation ensures the rotor response is consistent.

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Convertible

Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

Brake front

(in.)

13.4

14.4

13.8

15.6

Brake Rear

(in.)

13.0

14.0

13.8

15.6

Curb Weight

(lbs.)

3671

3957

3641

3792

60-0 MPH (ft.)

N/A

102

97

97

The 4S and SVR are at a tie again with similar braking performance. Both these cars lead in terms of stopping distance followed by the R8. The R8 due to small brakes and high weight requires more time to become stationary. The stopping distance for the i8 is not available. But it does have very capable brakes that are appropriate to handle the weight and speed of the i8.

What about its driving dynamics?

The 2020 BMW i8 Roadster features four different driving-mode settings. There’s the eDrive mode, Eco Pro mode, Comfort mode and lastly, Sport mode. But regardless of the choice of driving mode, the i8 Roadster makes up for a pleasant handling machine.

The power delivery, response from the steering wheel and suspension setup make this Bimmer feel a lot like a grand tourer than a sports car. However, switching Sport mode gets the most out of the i8 Roadster’s hybrid powertrains.

Steering response does lack some feedback, which can cause discomfort for the driver while tackling curves, but the relatively soft suspension does a decent job of keeping body roll under control, but the same factors make it an incredibly fun vehicle on the highways. The soft-top further enhances functionality.

2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Fuel Economy

9.0/10

Being a hybrid the i8 has high fuel efficiency standards. The emissions from the i8 are significantly low, making it a very conscious car. The i8 can get about 30 miles on pure electric performance. This number does not seem to impress, there are many electric cars in the market that over-shadow the i8s electric performance. When combined with the petrol engine the electric motors help in reducing the fuel requirements increasing efficiency. The high MPG numbers of the i8 are courtesy of the electric motors.

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Convertible

Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

MPG (city)

N/A

13

18

16

MPG (highway)

N/A

20

23

24

MPG (combined)

27

16

20

18

Fuel tank capacity (gallons)

11.1

21.1

17.6

18.5

Range (city/highway) (miles)

N/A

274/422

317/405

296/444

BMW is yet to declare the City and Highway MPG of the i8. The combined MPG figure of the i8 is all that is currently available. The i8 takes this comparison by a huge margin. The 4S is in the second spot followed by the SVR and the R8 respectively. The i8 has the smallest fuel tank, but with the high fuel efficiency, it isn't a concern.

2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Interior

9.0/10

The i8 Coupe can seat 4 people but the Roadster can seat only 2. The biggest reason for this is the retractable roof which utilizes the space of the rear seats. BMW used to approach to ensure that the boot-space in both the body types is the same. Well, let us discuss more the cargo later, for now, let's take a look at the interior of the magnificent beauty.

The butterfly doors open to this marvellous interior by BMW. It has the typical minimalistic design by BMW which is a profound luxury standard. The cockpit is very driver-oriented to increase driver comfort. The seats are well-bolstered and provide excellent torso support. The seats are electronically adjustable and the steering wheel can be adjusted too. This allows the driver to chose a comfortable driving position. The seats can be 3-way heated making the ride with the roof down even more comfortable. 

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Convertible

Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

Passenger Capacity

2

2

4

2

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

38.7/56.7/43.1

38.5/54.8/41.0

N/A

37.0/56.5/43.0

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Porsche is the only car that can seat 4, but the seats in the rear are very cramped and not comfortable. This essentially makes it a 2 seater as well. Among all the cars on the list, i8 has the most space for the front passengers. The R8 is marginally lower on the interior space, followed by the SVR that has the least room. The tech, comfort, and luxury on all these cars are not as good as the i8.

Interior Features

The comfort in the BMW i8 Roadster comes equipped with a host of features that make it relatively functional:

  • Ivory white with black contrast/Black leather
  • Driver footrest
  • Harman Kardon 12-speaker audio system
  • Cruise control
  • Head-up display
  • Start/stop button
  • Auto-dimming interior rearview mirror
  • Automatic dual-zone climate control
  • 3-stage heated front seats
  • 6-way power front seats
  • Tilt/telescoping steering column

Infotainment System

The center console houses the 8.8inch infotainment system. Being a hybrid car there are various functions that can be monitored and changed via the infotainment. There is also a feature in the infotainment which gives the driver information on driving much more efficiently. The infotainment also gives various information regarding electric batteries and drive modes.

Infotainment Features.

Standard on the BMW i8 Roadster is an 8.8-inch touchscreen with the following features:

  • BMW TeleServices
  • ConnectedDrive Services
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Bluetooth
  • SiriusXM
  • Over-the-Air updates

What about utility?

Finally, let's talk about the cargo capacity of the i8. The i8 Coupe and the Roadsters have a similar cargo capacity. The manufacturer decided to get rid of the rear seats to house the soft-top while folded down. The main reason was to avoid diminishing the cargo capacity. Both these vehicles can hold a medium-sized trolley entirely in the cargo. But the advantage with the Roadster is the extra storage space that is available behind the seats. This extra space can hold a laptop bag or purse well. One thing is certain, this is not the car to drive while grocery shopping.

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Convertible

Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

Cargo Volume with rear seats up (ft.3)

2.3

4.0

4.6

7.3

All the cars in the line up are convertible, which means they retractable roof housing takes up some cargo space. This is the reason why none of these cars have cargo capacity volume in double digits. The SVR has the best trunk space which is not all that great. While the i8 has the least cargo capacity.

 

2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible

2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Exterior

9.0/10

This is the aspect where the i8 proves it's worth. The design of the i8 is very exotic and turns heads everywhere it goes. The butterfly or the scissor doors that open upwards look astounding. Butterfly doors are now a rare sight and the i8 blends them into its design well. On the front, the i8 has the signature kidney grille. Well unlike most BMW's this grille does not have air vent functionality. Rather it is just a faux grille to maintain the BMW design.

The hood design has been changed and is clearly different when compared to the coupe. This is because the square-shaped hood vent would blow hot air out the electric motors into the cabin. The hood vents were re-designed to ensure the heated air does not get into the cabin. 

One of the most noticeable arches in this vehicle would be the rear wheel arch. The body line on the sides of then flows into this arch which is separated from the roofline. This creates a gap that allows air to flow through increasing aerodynamics. This gap is fully utilized on the rear where the bottom half of the gap houses the brake lights and the top half houses the turn signals.

Along the sides, the sculpted body wraps around large 20-inch wheels, and two fins arch over the brake lights for dramatic effect. Also dramatic is the split rear wing which improves downforce for better composure.

Model

BMW i8 Roadster

Audi R8 Spyder

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Convertible

Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

Curb Weight (lbs.)

3671

3957

3641

3792

Length (in.)

184.9

174.3

177.9

176.2

Width (in.)

76.5

76.4

72.9

74.2

Height (in.)

50.7

49.0

51.2

51.5

Ground Clearance (in.)

4.5

N/A

N/A

N/A

Wheelbase (in.)

110.2

104.3

96.5

103.2

Track Width (in.) F/R

64.7/67.8

64.5/63.0

62.5/61.2

64.6/65.1

The i8 has a design that shrouds all its competition. It is the longest and has the largest wheelbase on this list. It is shortly followed by the Audi which has the lowest stance. The Jaguar and Porsche continue to look outdated and can not match the charisma that the Audi and BMW.

Exterior Features

The most praiseworthy exterior features of the exotically styled BMW i8 Roadster are:

  • 20-inch BMWi light-alloy radial-spoke bi-color wheels
  • Scissor door design
  • Metallic paint job
  • Power-retractable roof
  • Shadowline exterior trim
  • BMW iU-shape LED brake lights
  • Power-folding side mirrors
  • Thermoplastic bumpers and fenders
  • Aluminum doors and hood
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible
2020 BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid Convertible

2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Safety

6.0/10

BMW has always been proactive in terms of providing safety in their vehicles. The i8 is no different. It has not been crash-tested for the NHTSA and IIHS ratings yet. The chassis of the i8 is constructed from aluminum and layers of carbon. The multiple layers of carbon ensure structural integrity while lowering the weight. The list of safety features is extensive to ensure maximum safety.

Safety Features

  • Anti-theft alarm
  • BMW Assist eCall
  • ABS
  • Active Driving Assistant
  • 6 airbags
  • Hybrid-specific Dynamic Stability Control
  • Dynamic Traction Control

2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Competition

BMW i8 Roadster vs. Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

The Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible is significantly less expensive than the BMW i8 Roadster. However, the BMW i8 justifies its price with more efficiency and equally engaging performance despite having a severely underpowered engine. Also the i8 Roadster is a lot more accommodating. So the F-Pace SVR Convertible might be cheaper, but the BMW i8 is a better all-round package.

2020 Jaguar F-Pace SVR Convertible

BMW i8 Roadster vs. Audi R8 V10 Spyder

Simply the fact that this Bimmer with a puny turbo-three engine has the audacity to rank up against the masterful Audi R8 is enough reason to speak for the Bimmer’s capabilities. However, a car needs to be more than that, and the BMW i8 Roadster is. The BMW i8 Roadster is cheaper than the R8, less powerful than the R8, only slightly behind it on performance, a lot more fuel efficient and also more spacious. Except for its bigger boot and more powerful engine, the Audi R8 V10 Spyder hardly has anything to offer.

2020 Audi R8 V10 Spyder

2020 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Convertible Final Verdict

A powerful and efficient powertrain, soft-top fun of a convertible, exotic design and comfortable all-around drivability. These are the characteristics that rightly define the 2020 BMW i8 Roadster. But this Bimmer is not without flaw. With its small fuel tank, smaller cargo and a relatively expensive price tag, the i8 Roadster’s overall impressions take a big hit.