BMW i8 Roadster is officially unveiled alongside updated coupe

29 Nov, 2017 5:25pm Dan Smith

BMW’s soft-top plug-in hybrid sports car was officially unveiled at the LA Motor Show and will cost £124,730

After months of speculation, spy shots and teaser images, BMW has finally unveiled the highly anticipated i8 Roadster at this year’s LA Motor Show. Alongside an updated i8 coupe, the Roadster will go on sale summer 2018 with a price tag of £124,730 - £12,000 more than the hardtop.

The petrol-electric hybrid sports car does away with its solid roof and in its place features a fabric soft top. The roof is fully electric and takes 15 seconds to open or close and can be operated at speeds of up to 30mph. It’s Z-shape gives an additional 100 litres of storage space between the roof box and seats. In order to maximise open-top comfort, the rear window rises automatically by 30mm when the roof is retracted; 3D printing was also used in the design of aluminium elements that connect the roof to the car’s body.

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To compensate for the loss of the fixed roof BMW has fitted the Roadster with bespoke suspension and dampers, while additional body strengthening has added 60kg of weight over the coupe.

The i8 Roadster also gets a power and range boost as a result of improvements to BMW’s eDrive technology. The lithium-ion battery’s cell capacity has increased from 7.1kWh to 11.6kWh, which means the electric motor’s power is boosted by 12bhp to an output of 141bhp. Combined with the 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, the i8 Roadster produces 369bhp and 570Nm of torque. The same powertrain tweaks have been applied to the i8 coupe, too.

BMW says the i8 Roadster takes 4.6 seconds to cover 0-62 mph, which is two-tenths down on the coupe. Top speed is 155mph, while in electric drive it’s capable of 75mph flat out. Power is fed through the unconventional four-wheel-drive system, with the engine providing power to the rear wheels while the electric motor provides power to the front.

In electric-only mode, range has been improved from the previous coupe’s 22-mile range to 33 miles, with the new coupe managing slightly more at 34 miles. The new hybrid powertrain is also more efficient capable of 134.5mpg, claims BMW.

The Roadster rides on exclusive 20-inch twin-spoke alloys, with each wheel being one kilogram lighter than alloys on the previous i8. BMW has also fitted non-dazzling laser headlights to the new i8 with a high-beam range of 600 metres, doubling the previous i8’s LED headlight setup.

Connectivity plays an important part in the new i8 Roadster and coupe, with both models compatible with BMW’s Connected smartphone app that controls route planning and charging point notifications. Real time traffic and on-street parking information can be accessed via ConnectedDrive.

A new safety feature is the option of an acoustic pedestrian warning system, which alerts passers-by of the i8’s presence when it’s in EV at up to speeds of 19mph.

Do you like the look of the new BMW i8 Roadster? Let us know what you think of the design below…