The 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, 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.
Optimised BMW eDrive technology: more power, increased range; electric driving experience raised another notch.
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.
Powertrain, chassis and body
The new BMW i8 Coupé and new BMW i8 Roadster are 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.