BMW has unveiled the definitive production version of the i8 Roadster at the 2017 Los Angeles motor show. The long-awaited two seater will go on sale alongside an updated version of the two-plus-two i8 coupe in the UK early next year featuring an updated 369bhp plug-in petrol-electric hybrid drive line.
The arrival of the i8 Roadster comes more than five years after it was originally unveiled as a concept at the 2012 Beijing motor show and two years since a more production-based concept was unveiled at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The lengthy gestation period has led to the first open-top model from BMW’s fledgeling i brand adopt a newly developed roof structure. It automatically stows beneath a panel integrated within the two buttresses behind the cabin at the press of a button.
The roof, which consists of a large fabric panel and integrated header rails, is claimed to open in just 15sec at speeds up to 31mph.
To accommodate the new roof, BMW has modified the windscreen, providing it with a strengthened frame and beefed-up quarter windows. The rear window, which doubles as a wind deflector, is also altered, and can be closed or opened independently of the roof.
Further stylistic changes over the face lifted i8 coupe that are set to go on sale simultaneously with the i8 Roadster in early 2018 are the deletion of the rear side windows. They are replaced by new black panels overlaid with aluminum-look trims etched with the word 'Roadster'.
The lift back tailgate of the i8 coupé also makes way for a lengthy engine cover on the new i8 Roadster.
BMW says the inherent structural integrity of the i8’s carbon fibre-reinforced plastic and aluminium structure has helped to minimise weight gain for the new Roadster, which is claimed to tip the scales just 60kg over the face lifted coupé at 1594kg.
Inside, the two-plus-two configuration of the i8 coupé is eschewed in favour of a two-seat layout for the i8 Roadster, which features a claimed 92-litres of oddment space within three separate cubby holes integrated into the rear bulkhead.
The earlier dashboard design has also been lightly updated for the i8 Roadster and facelifted i8 coupé, with the latest version of BMW’s iDrive system now offering either touch control on a free-standing 8.8-inch monitor or rotary control via a dial on the middle console featuring among other subtle changes.
BMW has also confirmed its new open-top i brand model receives newly designed seats, an optional head-up display unit as well a range of new trim options, including carbon fibre trim elements for the dashboard and ceramic controls within the centre console.
Power for the new i8 Roadster and face lifted i8 coupé comes from a reworked version of the plug-in petrol-electric hybrid drive line used by the existing coupé – the Life Drive architecture as it is labelled by BMW.
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