A moonwalking Michael Jackson was never this fluid. Or so tightly choreographed. Toggle a hidden switch on the BMW i8 roadster’s console, and the top silently unlatches, a rear panel opens up, and the three-section canvas roof plunges as vertically as an Acapulco cliff diver into a skinny well behind the seats. From closed to sun-on-your-face, fresh-air-in-your-hair convertible in just 16 seconds.
And this new 2019 i8 roadster makes a terrific open-air tanning machine. Top down, windows up, and with that tiny but effective powered rear wind-blocker raised, you can cruise at triple-digit velocities with hardly any buffeting. Too much sun? Ease down to 31 mph and you can reraise the roof on the go.
The transformation from coupe to roadster has done nothing to diminish the stunning, space-age looks of the original i8. It’s still all wings and curves and Star Wars Millennium Falcon add-ons. Still a futuristic auto show concept you can jump into, power up, and whir away in.
And whir it does. Like the coupe, the roadster has a single, high-torque electric motor up front that drives the front wheels. For 2019, a more powerful lithium-ion battery pack delivers more juice to the motor, raising peak output to 143 hp and 184 ft lbs of torque.