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.