LA Auto Show: BMW i8 finally takes its top off


The long-awaited i8 Roadster will go on sale alongside an updated version of the two-plus-two i8 coupe early next year.

Expect to see the sales of the new 2019 BMW i8 Coupe and Roadster started in Spring 2018. "For us, electric mobility is the new normal", said Klaus Frohlich, member of the board of management at BMW AG and development during the BMW press conference. Located in the car's underbody, underneath the passenger cabin, the battery provides the i8 with a low center of gravity. Beefed-up lithium-ion batteries - they have gone from 7.1 kWh to 11.6 kWh - now offer an electric-only range of up to 33 miles, with speeds up to 75mph possible. Of course it is also coupled with the electric drive system at 141 hp that brings that total power output to a respectable 369 horsepower.

BMW pegs preliminary 0-60 miles per hour times at 4.4 seconds for the i8 Roadster and 4.2 seconds for the i8 Coupe. The engine remains the same, the 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol we've come to know and love. The combined power output of 369bhp and 570Nm is channelled through a six-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels. That figure is down from the 76 MPGe of the current i8, but impressive nevertheless.

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It's taken a few years, but BMW has finally released a Roadster version of its futuristic i8 sports vehicle and the new body style coincides with a few upgrades to the Coupe, including a more powerful drivetrain. It takes about 15 seconds and it can be activated while traveling at up to 50 km/h (31 mph). The stowage solution means that the i8 Roadster actually benefits from increased storage space. The i8's trademark "gullwing" doors feature on the Roadster as well as returning on the updated i8 coupe.

For those not up-to-date with BMWs nomenclature and model lineup, we are talking about the i8 facelift, which is also getting a much-awaited Roadster version. This allows for geometric parts that can not be cast for the optimum strength and size to be used, balancing weight with rigidity requirements.

Standard features on both the coupe and roadster include a fast charging cable, the Professional satellite navigation system, the company's latest tile-based iDrive infotainment system, a freestanding 8.8-inch screen, dynamic damper control, automated emergency braking, cruise control, and a 2.2-inch touchscreen display built into the key fob.