BMW debuts its i8 Roadster for top-down green driving

Now, five years on, the open roof is back with the debut of the i8 Roadster at the Los Angeles Motor Show (although not the see-through doors), with a new tweaked and mildly titivated i8 Coupe alongside. It's cell capacity is increased from 20 Ah to 34 Ah, boosting energy capacity from 7.1 kWh to 11.6, giving it a net energy capacity of 9.4 kWh (usable).

This open-air sibling to the i8 Coupe takes that sports car's hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain, performance hardware and captivating looks, and adds convertible freedom thanks to a fabric top that opens and closes in less than 16 seconds.

Both cars also get 70 miles per-gallon equivalent according to BMW.

Inside, the cabin gets an updated steering wheel, a multifunction instrument display and an 8.8-inch freestanding touch screen.

The new BMW i8 makes a run to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds, though BMW admits the Roadster is two tenths slower.

More news: Lamborghini Gives Pope Francis a Huracan

The engine remains the same award-winning three-cylinder, turbocharged 1.5-liter, producing 228 horsepower (170 kW) and 236 lb-ft (320 Nm) of torque. Both possess a limited top speed of 155 miles per hour (249 km/h). The Roadster's fuel consumption suffers more next to the coupe, but then it still records 134.5mpg on the combined cycle.

"The higher percentage [of sales] will be in the roadster, definitely", said Robert Irlinger, head of BMW i.

Going into more detail, the aluminium parts of the hood have been made using 3D printing, in order to obtain greater precision, while BMW claims to have worked thoroughly on the insulation - both thermal and acoustic. New color schemes being offered include E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic, both with Frozen Grey metallic accents. Exclusive 20 inch wheel designs are also available, weighing 2.2 lbs less than the previous BMW i8.

The interior of the 2019 BMW i8 sees design changes for infotainment and driver information screens.

Speaking of which, the all-new BMW i8 Roadster is only about 60 kg (130 pounds) heavier than the Coupe, despite having a reinforced CFRP chassis and an electrically retractable soft top. Mpg has also been improved to 149.8mpg for the Coupe and 134.5mpg for the Roadster, although these numbers are always notoriously hard to replicate in the real world, unless you charge frequently and mainly undertake short journeys.

  • Desiree Holland