BMW i8 Roadster revealed


It's been over three years since BMW unveiled the i8 to the world, and in that time it has established itself in its futuristic sports-hybrid niche rather nicely. Now the time has come for a mid-life facelift, and with it the introduction of the oft-mooted soft-top.


We've seen the i8 Roadster before of course - several times in fact - the concept first having been unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show in 2012, with a production-based version shown at last year's 2016 CES in Las Vegas. This launch though, conducted at this week's LA show, is finally for real.

So what's it like? Well, it uses the same mid-mounted 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine as the Coupe has always done, putting out the same 231hp and 236lb ft of torque. Overall performance is up, however, to 374hp and 420lb ft, thanks to a 12hp bump to the front mounted electric motor. This should make the i8 Roadster good for a 0-62mph sprint time of 4.6 seconds (0.2 seconds slower than the Coupe) and a limited top speed of 155mph.


Power is still sent from the petrol unit to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, and from the electric motor to the front wheels via a two-speed gearbox. This gives the i8 Roadster - and its Coupe sibling - the ability to run either in four-wheel drive, or front-wheel drive, electric only, guise. The latter resulting in a range of up to 33 miles thanks to the improved lithium-ion battery, which can now be charged to 80 per cent in under three hours.

As with any convertible, a lot of attention has inevitably been focused on the roof. The newly-developed fabric structure opens in just 15 seconds and stows beneath a panel integrated into the buttresses behind the passenger cabin. Unfortunately that means sacrificing the Coupe's 570GT-style luggage deck - but fear not, as BMW will sell you custom bags that fit into compartments totalling 92-litres worth of stowage space behind the seats. Of which there are now only two; the Roadster also losing the four person capacity of the Coupe.


Visually the changes don't extend much past that. The rear window, which also now serves as a wind deflector, has been tweaked, allowing it to be closed or opened independently of the roof. And the rear side windows have been replaced with solid panels as part of a strengthening of the i8's upper structure, which includes a strong windscreen frame. Thanks to the car's CFRP-based architecture however, weight gains over the Coupe have been kept to a minimum, at just 60kg.

Inside, the updated dashboard from the facelifted Coupe makes its way into the Roadster too, with the latest version of BMW's iDrive system in tow. There are newly designed seats too, and buyers have the option of a head-up display as well as a range of carbon fibre and ceramic trim options.

So it's slower, less practical, and probably more expensive than the Coupe, but that's kind of missing the point, isn't it? The long-awaited convertible will go on sale early next year alongside the facelifted version of its Coupe forebear - but if you can't wait until then there are plenty of very attractively priced alternatives in the classifieds...

 

 

 

 

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Comments (60) Join the discussion on the forum

  • g4ry13 29 Nov 2017

    I like the looks of the i8 and it seems they've done a pretty good job with the roadster version.

    Would I buy one if I had the money? Probably not, maybe these will drop like a stone on the second hand market and be a bargain after a few years.

  • va1o 29 Nov 2017

    Looks pretty awesome to me and certainly freshens up the i8 after a few years on sale. Impressed they've managed to keep those doors so close to the Coupe!

    I'm also super keen for the next Z4, wonder if this gives away any clues of what's coming with that whistle

  • Gameface 29 Nov 2017

    No images with hood up.

    Hhhhhmmmm...

  • seastorm 29 Nov 2017

    I owned an i8 as a daily driver for 6 months or so and it was surprisingly good. But I missed real engine sound and a proper NA engine. This roadster asthetically looks quite good but isn't the point of a convertible - and the sacrifices of one such as weight, less focused drive and in this case loss of rear seats - to really enjoy the engine sound that bit more? Therefore in this case, what's the point? To have the roof down and hear the sound of other cars?

  • Paper Lawyer 29 Nov 2017

    seastorm said:
    I owned an i8 as a daily driver for 6 months or so and it was surprisingly good. But I missed real engine sound and a proper NA engine. This roadster asthetically looks quite good but isn't the point of a convertible - and the sacrifices of one such as weight, less focused drive and in this case loss of rear seats - to really enjoy the engine sound that bit more? Therefore in this case, what's the point? To have the roof down and hear the sound of other cars?
    I totally agree but how many A4 convertible owners do you see with a godawful diesel engine chugging away? For the majority, the sound of the engine doesn't appear to be a consideration (more's the pity).

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