Few cars elicit slack-jawed awe on the road like the BMW i8, and now there are two of them. With this year’s introduction of the two-seat i8 Roadster, you might be wondering about the fixed-roof variant. For 2019, it’s called the BMW i8 Coupe, and it gets the same power upgrades as its new convertible stablemate.
BMW left the i8 Coupe’s look well enough alone. Visual updates include “Coupe” badges, a vent on the hood, and a new style of optional 20-inch wheel. We think that’s just fine because even now, five years after its initial model year, this sci-fi movie prop still stops traffic. And with carbon-fiber construction and doors that open vertically, billionaire-style, how could it not?
Regardless of roof, the i8 uses a different approach to hybrid power: It has an electric motor that powers the front wheels through a two-speed transmission and a gasoline engine drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic. While this layout hasn’t changed for 2019, it has grown more powerful. The electric motor now puts out 141 horsepower (an increase of 12 hp), and its battery pack can store more energy. The turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine in the back remains 228 hp. These two means of motivation combine for a net output of 369 hp.
The gasoline engine shuts down when not needed, letting the i8 run on electric power alone. For 2019, the all-electric range rises to 18 miles from 15. That might sound low in today’s world of long-range EVs, but you have to remember that the i8’s goal is to deliver the sports car experience in a highly efficient package.
As far as the sports car experience goes, BMW says the gas engine has a sportier-sounding exhaust and accelerates to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. (The slightly heavier Roadster takes 4.4 seconds.) That’s not too bad when you consider it carries a combined 76 miles per gallon equivalent rating from the EPA (gas-only operation nets a combined 26 mpg). BMW has also increased the maximum speed of the i8 when it’s using electric power alone to 65 mph in the normal setting and 75 mph in the eDrive mode.
While pricing hasn’t been revealed, we expect the Coupe to cost similar to the current model’s $144,395 base (destination included) when it goes on sale in spring 2018. That price puts it among the world’s most highly desired sports cars, but the i8 delivers a look and driving experience that no other car has yet to match.