Words: Calvin Chan
Published: November 30, 2017
LOS ANGELES, California - We saw the i8 Roadster coming from a mile away, yet we didn't expect it to look this good without a roof. BMW unveiled the topless i8 here at the Los Angeles Auto Show, alongside a refreshed coupe variant as well, and we think it looks fabulous.
The i8 Roadster sacrifices the two rear seats (as useless and petite as they were) for an electrically-operated soft-top roof that can open in 16 seconds and can operate up to 50 km/h, creating a targa-like atmosphere for the driver. And don't fret, it's still got those flashy gullwing doors.
Power has been increased by 12 hp for a total of 369 hp (no change in torque). You can read about how the i8's powertrain works here, but when the front-mounted electric motor and rear-mounted combustion engine work in unison, the i8 Roadster can be propelled from 0-100 km/h in an impressive 4.6 seconds, only 0.2 seconds slower than the Coupe.
New paint colours like E-Cooper Metallic and Donington Grey Metallic make their way into the i8 palette, as well as new wheel designs and interior upholstery. Every i8 will now sport either a "Coupe" or "Roadster" badge on the B-pillar.
While the i8 will serve as the halo car for the BMW brand for now, we have our fingers crossed for a more performance-oriented version of this audacious sports car, perhaps an i8s. While the i8 may pave the way in terms of futuristic looks and electric technology, it still has quite a ways to go if BMW wants to convince customers to go electric, and dominate the Tesla Roadster, venerable Porsche 911, and Mercedes-AMG GT in this premium segment. Be that as it may, the addition of a Roadster to the i8 portfolio is an exciting next step for the brand. Here's to hoping that BMW keeps the momentum rolling.
Expect the 2019 BMW i8 Roadster to go on sale in spring 2018. Pricing has yet to be announced.