We’ve only been waiting five years for the BMW i8 to drop its top – but it was worth the wait.
Five years ago, BMW revealed the seductive i8 Spyder Concept back in 2012 previewing a future soft-top version of the i8 hybrid coupe. It's been a long time coming, but the wait is finally over as BMW has belatedly lifted the wraps off the new i8 Roadster at this week's LA Auto Show – and it was well worth the wait thanks to its striking looks, blistering performance, and innovative production technology. Its reveal also coincides with the debut of the 2019 BMW i8 Coupe which has received a mid-cycle refresh with more power and an increased range.
The i8 Roadster looks very similar to its coupe counterpart, but that's no bad thing – we didn't want the addition of a folding roof to ruin its striking styling. The BMW i8 Roadster's electronically-operated fabric roof opens and closes in under than 16 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph, making it one of the most advanced folding roofs of any convertible. To avoid adding too much excess weight, the aluminum elements connecting the roof mechanism with the body are produced using an innovative 3D printing process, ensuring an optimal balance between component rigidity and weight. The fabric soft-top folds in a Z shape and is stored in a vertical position in the rear of the car when opened.
While there's no longer enough room for back seats, there's still plenty of storage space. Additional cargo compartments between the roof box and seats provide around 3.5 square feet of storage, and the rear storage area has also been extended to accommodate 4.7 square feet of cargo. It also retains the coupe's gullwing doors which were redesigned for the Roadster. Both the 2019 i8 Roadster and Coupe are more powerful than the outgoing model, although the upgrade isn't as significant as we were hoping. Each car packs a three-cylinder turbocharged gas engine producing 228-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque combined with an electric motor that delivers 141-hp and 184 lb-ft of torque.
The resulting output is 369-horsepower; a 12-hp increase over the outgoing model. Replacing the 7.1-kWh battery is a larger 11.6-kilowatt unit enabling 18 miles of pure electric range which is three more than the previous model. Remarkably, the i8 Roadster tips the scales at just 3,513 pounds (1,593 kilograms), making it only 132 pounds (60 kilograms) heavier than the Coupe. The extra weight doesn't have a detrimental effect on performance, either: 0-62 mph takes 4.4 seconds in the Roadster, while the Coupe will do the same sprint in 4.2 seconds. Both cars can reach speeds of up to 65 mph on pure electric power and top speed is limited to 155 mph.
E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic finishes have been added to the choice of exterior paint finishes available for the new i8 Coupe and Roadster. Both cars ride on a set of 20-inch BMW i lightweight alloy wheels a Radial-spoke bicolor design, which weigh 2.2 pounds less than the lightest wheels previously available for the BMW i8. Four light-alloy wheel variants with the same dimensions are also available. The new BMW i8 Roadster and Coupe will be shown at the LA Auto Show and will go on sale in spring 2018. Prices will be announced closer to launch.