BMW i8 Roadster breaks cover

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Speaking of which, the all-new BMW i8 Roadster is only about 60 kg (130 pounds) heavier than the Coupe, despite having a reinforced CFRP chassis and an electrically retractable 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. There's still some storage behind the seats and roof compartment, though not much. The lithium-ion batteries have received a cell capacity boost that means the electric motor now produces 141bhp, which contributes to a total of 369bhp when the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is taken into account.

A new convertible sports auto is joining BMW's range of hybrid electric vehicles. When the top is down, the rear window automatically raises by roughly 1.9 inches to help guide the air flow toward the rear.

Both models sport an updated powertrain system, whose electric bit now delivers a 12 horsepower increase in peak output to 143 horsepower.

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 current i8 coupe starts at $144,395, including shipping.

BMW says even the 1.5-liter turbo engine's sound has been improved, while both the Coupe and the Roadster are capable of reaching speeds of up to 65 miles per hour purely on electric power. Electric-only range is up almost 50 per cent says BMW, with up to 34 miles achievable.


Along with a removable top, the i8 Roadster is more powerful, too. Additionally, in Comfort or Eco Pro mode, the i8 can be driven on electricity alone at speeds up to 75 miles per hour.

BMW expects its new i8 roadster to dominate the sales mix in the i8 plug-in hybrid family when it goes on sale in the spring. Real time traffic and on-street parking information can be accessed via ConnectedDrive.

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.

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.

BMW says the engine is less noisy than before, which is odd since the i8's been created to pump fake engine noise into the cabin to make you think you have a big V-8 instead of a lowly 3-banger.

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