Now, the allure of sustainable driving pleasure is poised to enter another new dimension. The all new i8 Roadster takes the combination of emission-free and high-performance and adds open-top thrills. It is unique in offering such performance and silent acceleration with the pure sensation of roof-down driving.
Following the world premiere of the i8 Roadster at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2017, the order book will open in January 2018. The Roadster will be joined in showrooms by the mid-life update of the i8 Coupé, with both models based on the LifeDrive vehicle architecture purpose-built and designed for BMW i cars. The aluminium ‘Drive’ module brings together the powertrain, high-voltage battery, suspension, crash system and structural functions, while the ‘Life’ module takes the form of a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell, unique to the segment.
The i8 Roadster benefits from lightweight construction, complete with a low centre of gravity and even weight distribution. The aerodynamic exterior – with model-specific dihedral doors – is a fine exponent of the signature BMW i design language.
Passengers inside the 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 16 seconds and while travelling at up to 31mph.
The i8 Roadster is unique in offering a fabric soft-top which stows into a perpendicular position in the rear when opened, therefore taking up very little space. The three segments of the roof fold vertically in a Z-shape, leaving an additional 100 litres of storage space between the roof box and the seats, on top of 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 also 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.
BMW’s rigorously developed eDrive technology powers both the i8 Roadster and Coupé. 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.
The improved technology means the i8 Roadster can cover up to 33 miles with zero emissions, while the i8 Coupé can achieve up to 34 miles, broadening the reach of all-electric mobility well beyond the city limits.
Groundbreaking lightweight design, systematic improvement of aerodynamics and advanced plug-in hybrid technology are the mainstays of a trailblazing concept turned reality.
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 visionary styling of the i8 Coupé therefore succeeds in expressing not just the car’s dynamic performance, but also its outstanding efficiency. 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 proportions, lines and surface design mark out the i8 Coupé and the i8 Roadster as belonging to a new breed of sports car. A flat bonnet, visible aerodynamics, short overhangs, a long wheelbase, broad track and an elongated roofline create an aura of dynamism, lightness and efficiency.
The i8 Roadster’s broad roof retracts fully into the rear end, lending greater emphasis to the car’s low-slung silhouette. The CFRP passenger cell’s robust structure means the soft-top could be designed to be wide, creating a large view to the sky. The rear window extends into a comfort position and acts as a windbreak.
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.
On sale January 2018, prices for the BMW i8 Coupé starts at £112,730 OTR and the Roadster is priced from £124,730 OTR.