By the time an i8 Roadster first shows up on somebody’s driveway, BMW’s Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept–the genesis of the entire i Division–will be ten years old. Of course while that was just a wild show car with a turbodiesel plug-in hybrid drivetrain, what followed in 2011 at Frankfurt was a more serious proposition, with production-ready populations and a body like no other.
To add to the confusion, BMW followed up with i8 Concept Spyder in 2012, but despite Uma Thurman’s widest smiles at the Bavarians’ ‘Born Electric’ World Tour opening night party in New York City, that concept was never supposed to spawn a production model. It was purely an all show, no go mockup.
It’s definitely naked, since BMW isn’t shy to show off its roadster-specific engineering solutions. And while the soft top team went north to check comfort levels under extreme conditions, the powertrain and chassis people kept busy improving performance and handling.
The Roadster debuted with the same upgrades as the Coupe got for 2019. A whopping 12 extra horsepower, and up to three extra miles of pure electric range thanks to a higher density battery pack that went from its original capacity of 7.1 kWh to 11.6.
What I did manage to learn from this drive is that the i8 is still the most comfortable space ship money can buy, and its pure electric range of 18 miles is perfectly adequate for the application, even if the same figure happens to be 33 miles by the European standards.