BMW's i8 drops its top, gets more perk

BMW's i8 drops its top, gets more perk

Lindsey Duncan
November 30, 2017

The Roadster's folding roof is a compact fabric unit, slipping underneath a new interpretation of the i8 Coupe's floating rear buttresses when stowed. It won't sell in high volume, but it'll draw attention, no question.

Inside, the i8 Roadster receives the latest version of iDrive with a choice of touch control on a free-standing 8.8-inch monitor or rotary control via a dial on the middle console. The cars along with the i3s are part of the automakers commitment to have 12 electric cars by 2025. That's the lesson automakers learned after Tesla's original electric Roadster and the Model S sedan proved the electric vehicle market could expand well beyond nerdy Earth do-gooders. Having said that, at 18 miles instead of 15, the maximum electric range is only mildly improved.

Before we look at the new Roadster, let's jump into the guts of this newly-updated i8.

Irlinger wouldn't reveal how BMW expects the mix to break down, but it is counting on the new roadster and face-lifted coupe to lift overall i8 sales significantly.

BMW has also upgraded the battery pack for both new models, raising capacity to 11.6kWh up from the previous i8's 7.1kWh. The electric range is now claimed to be 53 kilometres.

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This equates to a slightly slower 0-100kmh time of 4.6 seconds (i8 Coupe 4.5 secs). The Roadster's fuel consumption suffers more next to the coupe, but then it still records 134.5mpg on the combined cycle. Revisions to the three-cylinder turbo petrol engine powering the rears take power to 227bhp and torque to 236lb ft, and total system output is up by 15bhp at 369bhp. Both are electronically limited to a top speed of 155 miles per hour.

Components on the new i8 Roadster's convertible roof mechanism are made out of aluminum using a new 3D printing process.

The i8 Roadster will have exclusive 20-inch BMW i light-alloy wheels in radial-spoke style, lowering wheel weight by about 2.2 pounds versus the other wheels offered on the i8.

BMW has also released two new paint finishes, E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic. Mpg has also been improved to 149.8mpg for the Coupe and 134.5mpg for the Roadster, although these numbers are always notoriously hard to replicate in the real world, unless you charge frequently and mainly undertake short journeys.