BMW i8 Roadster and updated Coupe star at LA Motor Show
BMW has taken the covers off the i8 Roadster hybrid drop-top, which joins the updated Coupe in an expanded line-up.
It get a list price of £124,730 when it arrives on UK shores in January – that’s a £10,000 premium over its hardtop sibling.
Externally, the Roadster carries over many styling elements from the Coupe, with the only real difference (admittedly quite a big difference) being the absence of a roof.
It uses a soft-top fabric roof as opposed to a solid targa-type, which is fully electric. It can be opened and closed at speeds of up to 31 mph and takes just 15 seconds to do so.
The rear window between the two sweeping pillars can be opened independently of the roof, while the Coupe’s large tailgate has been replaced with a solid engine cover.
The i8’s clever aluminium and carbon-fibre platform also means the Roadster is only 60kg heavier than the Coupe too, although the windscreen frame has been strengthened, as have the side pillars.
Being roofless means the Coupe’s 2+2 seating configuration has been abandoned to create a two-seater, although the result is extra luggage capacity; BMW says there’s 92 litres of cubby space on offer.
A revised dashboard now features on both Coupe and Roadster, with an 8.8in touchscreen infotainment system now incorporating the latest iDrive infotainment system.
As for the drivetrain, the basic 1.5-litre petrol-hybrid configuration remains fundamentally unchanged, although it benefits from power and economy gains. The updated powertrain is capable of up to 134.5mpg, BMW claims.
The electric motor produces 12bhp more than the current i8 which, combined with the petrol motor now takes power up to 369bhp. The Coupe gets from rest to 62mph in 4.4 seconds, while the slightly heavier Roadster manages the same run in 4.6.
Like other EVs and hybrids, BMW has developed a system on the new i8 that gives pedestrians an audible warning up to 19mph.
Both models benefit from a limited top speed of 155mph and 75mph in electric-only mode, with power getting to the wheels via the i8’s innovative four-wheel drive system – electric motors drive the front wheels, and the conventional engine drives the rear.
The battery pack has also been updated and gets an increased cell capacity. This means the i8 Roadster should be capable of up to 33 miles in electric-only mode, while the Coupe can stretch to 34.
The new Roadster and updated Coupe are expected to arrive in the UK in January, although no leasing rates have been confirmed. If you’re interested in leasing a hybrid BMW right now, why not consider the i3 or the all-new plug-in 5 Series.