New BMW i8 Roadster

BMW i8 RoadsterThe BMW i8 is the sports car of the future in the showrooms of today. The 2+2 seater has been a technological pioneer and the world’s best-selling hybrid sports car since it arrived in 2014.

Now in 2018 it is joined by a new model that adds further allure to the arena of sustainable driving pleasure.

The all new BMW i8 Roadster takes the combination of emissions-free and high-perfromance motoring and adds open-top thrills. It is unique in offering such performance and silent acceleration with the pure sensation of roof-down driving.

First shown as a concept car back at the Beijing Motor Show in 2012, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder showed what a roofless version of the, as yet, unlaunched i8 Coupé might look like. It too featured clever packaging and dihedral doors despite the design challenges of not having a fixed roof.

Jump forward to 2018 and much of that striking original concept car has been retained in this finished vehicle. From innovative packaging of the roof, through to retaining the iconic doors and maintain the i8 family side profile, something many roadsters and convertibles fail to do when switching from hard-top to soft-top variant.

Driver and passenger in the all-new BMW i8 Roadster will look up to find either the open sky or a high-quality, all-season fabric soft-top with high-level soundproofing. All-electric operation ensures the roof opens or closes in an almost silent hush, within 15 seconds and while travelling at up to 31mph. This makes the i8 Roadster the BMW with the fastest opening roof across all the company’s models.

The i8 Roadster is unique in offering a fabric soft-top which stows into a perpendicular position in the rear when opened. This allows for far better packaging and day to day practicality. The three segments of the roof fold vertically in a Z-shape, thus taking up very little space and leaving an additional 100 litres of storage capacity between the roof box and the seats. This is in addition to the 88 litres of cargo space in the rear compartment.

Opening the roof raises the rear window automatically by around 30mm, reducing air turbulence inside the cabin and ensuring passengers can enjoy the pleasure of open-top driving with minimal disturbance. The driver can adjust the height of the window at the touch of a button and control airflow as desired.

Intelligent, lightweight design and innovative production technology play a key role in the car’s construction. For example, aluminum elements connecting the roof with the body of the car are produced via a new 3D printing process. This manufacturing method breaks new ground in the industry and allows the parts to be produced in a geometric form, which would not be possible using conventional casting techniques.

The framework was provided by the new LifeDrive vehicle architecture for BMW i models, whose horizontally split structure comprising an aluminium chassis and a CFRP passenger cell offers an exceptional degree of design freedom. The new i8 Roadster translates the BMW i design language to another vehicle concept, fusing the proportions of the i8 with signature roadster features to give it a character all of its own.

The C-pillars are adorned with beautifully made model-specific badges bearing the inscription “Roadster”. A similar logo can be found on the tail of the sporty two-seater.

The design cues common to the i8 Coupé also appear on the i8 Roadster and include dihedral doors that open forwards and upwards as well as optimised aerodynamics. The low bonnet, the BMW kidney grille, air flap control system, Air Curtains in the front apron, sealed underbody, contoured side skirts, “stream flow” lines of the car’s flanks, and air ducts between the rear lights and roof frame allow the air to be channeled extremely effectively.

The flow of cooling air at the front has now been rerouted, instead of flowing out through the outlet in the bonnet the air escapes at the sides of the car near the wheel arches and into the underbody. This ensures a pleasant cabin temperature is maintained at all times, especially when travelling with the roof down.

E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic have been added to the choice of exterior paint finishes available. Both are combined with accents in Frozen Grey metallic.

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The i8 Roadster is equipped with exclusive 20-inch light-alloy wheels in a W-spoke design. Intelligent lightweight design also makes an impact here, with each wheel weighing around one kilogram less than the lightest wheels previously available for the i8. Customers can also choose from another three light-alloy wheel variants with the same dimensions.

The progressive style of the i8 Roadster shines through clearly in the interior design. Standard specification for both includes a sports steering wheel and multi-functional instrument display plus Carpo interior trim comprising full-leather upholstery in Ivory White for the Coupé and Ivory White/Black for the Roadster. Carpo trim can alternatively be specified in dark Amido for both models and there is also the option of Halo interior trim featuring cloth/leather upholstery in a Dalbergia colour scheme.

A new high-line ‘Accaro’ interior trim, featuring cloth/leather upholstery in an Amido/E-Copper colour scheme is also a new option.

The new BMW i8 Roadster is powered by a hybrid synchronous electric motor and a three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. The engine’s power is fed to the rear wheels through a six-speed Steptronic transmission, while the electric motor propels the front wheels via a two-speed automatic gearbox. The end result is a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that glues the car to the road.

However, to enhance low emissions running and overall performance the number of driving situations where the electric motor is solely responsible for powering the car has been significantly increased. By contrast, the combustion engine is only brought into play when accelerating hard, and is switched off again more frequently with a measured driving style.

Underpinning its improved emission-free range is an updated version of the i8’s lithium-ion battery. The high-voltage unit is located centrally under the car, and its cell capacity is increased from 20 to 34Ah. All of which means the motor has more energy at its disposal. Plus, the cell configuration allows a 12hp increase in peak output to 143hp. And in typical electric motor fashion it generates its maximum torque from rest which means it is ideally equipped to deliver razor sharp responses from the slightest movement of the accelerator.

The improved technology means the i8 Roadster can cover up to 33 miles with zero emissions, broadening the reach of all-electric mobility well beyond the city limits.

The battery cells’ higher capacity means that the proportion of all-electric driving can be increased substantially, even in hybrid mode. With the default driving mode engaged, the BMW i8 Roadster is capable of pulling away and reaching speeds of up to 65mph purely on the electric motor’s power, making it possible to drive with zero emissions not just in town, but on country roads as well. If the eDrive button is pressed, the all-electric threshold is increased further to 75mph.

On sale now with prices starting from £124,735 OTR.

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