Los Angeles Auto Show - It’s taken a few years, but BMW has finally released a Roadster version of its futuristic i8 sports car and the new body style coincides with a few upgrades to the Coupe, including a more powerful drivetrain.

Thanks to a more powerful electric motor, which is still mated to a 170kW version of BMW’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol engine, the BMW i8 now boasts a total system output of 275kW, up from 266kW. 

That, according to BMW, is enough to get you from zero to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds in the case of the Roadster, with the Coupe taking 4.4s, and remember that the i8 is a lot lighter than BMW’s regular cars, thanks largely to its carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell construction.

The hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive set-up sees the petrol engine driving the rear wheels while the electric motor does its business upfront. Thanks to an improved high-voltage battery the i8 can now cover a claimed 55km on electric power alone, although you’d be lucky to get even close to that in real world driving.

Getting back to the main attraction here, the i8 two-seat Roadster has an electrically-operated targa-style fabric top that can perform the open or close trick in under 16 seconds, at speeds of up to 50km/h.
In a win for lightweight design, the roof’s aluminium connecting elements are produced in a new 3D printing process.

Like the Coupe, the Roadster has gullwing doors, and the pair are available with new exterior paint finishes and 20-inch alloy wheel designs in either two-tone or black.

Both can be ordered with Tera World Copper interior trim, which is new to the i8, and features a cloth and leather upholstery combination in a two-tone (Amido/E-Copper) colour scheme.

The 2018 range also benefits from the latest BMW Connected digital services, including highly personalised in-car displays, smart route planning and seamless information transfer between the navigation system and the owner’s smartphone or watch.

So when can I get one? BMW SA expects the new Coupe and Roadster to reach local shores during the second half of 2018. Just in time for next summer, in other words.

IOL Motoring