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.