BMW Drops The Top On New i8 Roadster (And Upgrades The Coupe Too)

BMW is writing the next chapter of its flagship hybrid sports car with the reveal today not only of the new i8 Roadster, but an upgraded version of the i8 coupe as well.

The basic parameters are the same: plug-in hybrid powertrain, housed an aluminum chassis with a carbon-fiber monotub. But the battery boasts a higher capacity, and the hybrid powertrain more muscle to take the i8 even further (and faster).

The 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine now produces 231 horsepower (up from 228), and the electric motor 143 hp (up from 131 hp) for a combined output of 374 hp to rocket the i8 coupe from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and the roadster in 4.4 as they rocket towards their electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

With a battery pack upgraded from 20 Ah to 34 Ah and from 7.1 kWh to 11.6, it’ll also travel on electric power alone at speeds of up to 65 mph (instead of just 43 mph) – or 75 mph in eDrive mode. All-electric range is up to 34 miles (for the coupe, 33 for the convertible) on the ambitious New European Driving Cycle.

Perhaps best of all is that you can now get the i8 with a folding soft-top. Aside from the slight performance penalty, it does mean sacrificing the rear seats, but with the inherent rigidity of the carbon cell, chopping the roof off nets only a 132-pound weight penalty for a curb weight quoted at 3,516 lbs.

That roof, incidentally, can raise and lower in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph, folding into a compact Z-shaped vertical stack. The suspension’s been retuned for the roadster too, and new wheels for both versions reduce unsprung weight.

Following the debut of both versions at the LA Auto Show today, both versions are set to reach US showrooms next spring, with pricing to be revealed closer to launch.

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  • Adilos Nave

    I wish this looked good. Instead, it’s for pretentious buyers that don’t have no taste but figure it’s the most expensive BMW available, it has to look good! BMW says it does! There is nothing coherent about the design at all. The only reason it’s even seen as being desirable is because it has a futuristic drivetrain. It’s like when people go all crazy about the design of one phone over another when, let’s face it, they are all rounded rectangles that hold a large piece of glass. It’s the technology inside that is attractive, not the housing.

    • exeptor

      It very much depends – for many the status which some product brings to the owner is at least with the same importance as the tech init. Notsaying that it is right but just that it is the reality.

  • Shtekeris

    Whoa, this looks just like coupe, but without roof. Who’d have thought.

  • Nordschleife

    The interior looks a little plain, Maybe because it is all black but it needs some bright work IMO.

    • Bananarama

      What are you smoking, that interior is stunning.

      • Nordschleife

        Absolutely stunningly plain.

  • SteersUright

    Still no beauty, but cool in a techie sorta way. Looks like 5 mediocre sports coupes smooshed together.

  • Mynameis Taylor

    I get the “tech” and the allure of driver dynamics… but I just don’t see how people find this car good looking. If it didn’t have a BMW badge, would people find it good looking? I think it’s one of the ugliest cars I’ve ever seen (inside and out). eeeew. ( my opinion. to each’s own)

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