The BMW i8 has performed the role of sports car of the future with extraordinary success since the day it was launched. The progressively designed 2+2-seater doubles up as an eye-catching object of desire and a technological pioneer. Indeed, the i8 has been the world’s highest-selling hybrid sports car since it first hit the roads in 2014 and has collected an array of awards in recognition of its visionary design and trailblazing vehicle concept. The BMW i8’s plug-in hybrid drive system has won the International Engine of the Year Award three years in succession (2015 – 2017) and paved the way for the constantly expanding number of plug-in hybrid models from the BMW and MINI brands. Now the allure of sustainable driving pleasure is poised to enter another new dimension. The new BMW i8 Roadster takes the i8’s combination of locally emission-free mobility and high-calibre performance and sprinkles the drop-top driving experience into the mix. The Roadster exudes a whole new sensation of freedom, opening the door to virtually silent motoring with zero CO2 emissions and bringing an extra edge of purity to open-air motoring.
Following the world premiere of the BMW i8 Roadster at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, sales will commence in May 2018. The Roadster will be joined in showrooms by the new version of the BMW i8 Coupe. Both models are based on the LifeDrive vehicle architecture designed for BMW i cars. The aluminium Drive module brings together the powertrain, high-voltage battery, suspension, crash system and structural functions, while the Life module takes the form of a passenger cell hewn from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).
And so the BMW i8 Roadster also benefits from a low-weight construction, complete with low centre of gravity and even weight distribution. The aerodynamically optimised exterior – with model-specific gullwing doors and a soft-top roof that also displays great visual lightness – is a fine exponent of the signature BMW i design language. The result is a two-seater boasting a distinctive and elegantly stretched silhouette, and delivering an immediate promise of instantaneous power ready to be unleashed.
Passengers inside the new BMW i8 Roadster will look up to find either the open sky or a high-quality, all-season fabric soft-top with additional soundproofing. All-electric operation ensures the roof opens or closes in an almost silent hush, within 15 seconds and while travelling at up to 50 km/h, if required. The broad, wide-opening lid guarantees an emotionally-engaging driving experience shaped in no small part by the sun and on-rushing air.
The BMW i8 Roadster is alone among its rivals in offering owners a fabric soft-top which stows away into a perpendicular position in the rear when opened and therefore takes up very little space. The three segments of the roof fold vertically in a Z. And between the roof box and the seats for the driver and front passenger is around 100 litres of additional storage space. Together with the load area in the rear, which can accommodate 88 litres of cargo, the rear compartment helps to ensure the open-top version of the plug-in hybrid sports car is also as well equipped as possible for everyday use and trips away.
Opening the roof raises the rear window automatically by around 30 millimetres into a comfort position. This allows it to mimic the effect of a conventional draught stop in reducing air turbulence inside the cabin and ensuring those on board can enjoy the pleasure of open-top driving pleasure in comfort. The driver can adjust the height of the rear window at the touch of a button and thus control the impact of the inflowing air as desired.
Intelligent lightweight design and innovative production technology also play a key role in the construction of the soft-top. For example, aluminium elements connecting the roof mechanism with the body of the new BMW i8 Roadster are produced in a new 3D printing process. This manufacturing method for aluminium components breaks new ground in the automotive industry and allows the topologically optimised bracings to be produced in a geometric form, which would not be possible using conventional casting techniques and ensures an optimum balance between component rigidity and weight.
Optimised BMW eDrive technology: more power, increased range; electric driving experience raised another notch
Rigorously further developed BMW eDrive technology powers both the BMW i8 Roadster and new BMW i8 Coupe. The number of driving situations where the electric motor is solely responsible for powering the car has beensignificantly increased. By contrast, the combustion engine is only brought into play when accelerating hard, and is switched off again far more frequently with a measured driving style. The optimised operating strategy of the intelligent energy management underscores the future-focused character of the new BMW i8 Coupe and ensures that drivers of the new BMW i8 Roadster can enjoy silent open-top motoring with zero local emissions to the full.
Underpinning this new level of locally emission-free electric mobility is the updated version of the lithium-ion battery developed for the BMW i8. The high-voltage unit is located centrally in the car’s underbody and its cell capacity is up from 20 to 34 Ah. All of which means the electric motor has more energy at its disposal. Plus, the cell configuration allows a 9 kW/12 hp increase in peak output to 105 kW/143 hp, lacing quick sprints on pure-electric power with an even sharper streak of dynamism.
The electric range of the i8 has also been increased. The new BMW i8 Roadster can now cover up to 53 kilometres (33 miles) with zero local emissions in the NEDC test cycle and the new BMW i8 Coupe up to 55 kilometres (34 miles). And that broadens the reach of all-electric mobility well beyond the city limits.
The BMW i8 is the world’s first sports car to be developed from the outset primarily under the banner of sustainability. Groundbreaking lightweight design, systematic improvement of aerodynamics and advanced plug-in hybrid technology form the mainstays of a trailblazing concept that completed its journey to reality with the car’s launch in 2014. The framework for the concept’s implementation was provided by the brand new LifeDrive vehicle architecture for BMW i models, whose horizontally split structure comprising an aluminium chassis and a CFRP passenger cell offers an exceptional degree of design freedom. The visionary styling of the BMW i8 Coupe therefore succeeds in expressing not just the car’s dynamic performance credentials, but also its outstanding efficiency. A string of prestigious accolades, including the iF Design Award and the Red Dot Award, testify to the design’s quality and allure. And the BMW i8 Roadster translates the unmistakable BMW i design language to another vehicle concept, fusing the dynamic proportions of the i8 with signature roadster features to give it a character all of its own.
Their proportions, lines and surface design mark out the BMW i8 Coupe and the BMW i8 Roadster as belonging to a new breed of sports car. A flat bonnet, visible aerodynamics measures, short overhangs, a long wheelbase, large track widths and an elongated roofline create an aura of dynamism, lightness and efficiency. On an individual level, meanwhile, the BMW i8 Coupe stands out as an extremely sporty 2+2-seater, while the BMW i8 Roadster exudes the freedom of open-top motoring for two.
The BMW i8 Roadster: emotion-stirring design promises an intense driving experience and unadulterated freedom
The design of the BMW i8 Roadster is awash with individual highlights that radiate elegance and fire the emotions. The soft-top roof has a visual lightness to go with its low physical weight and serves as a defining element of the silhouette in reinforcing the road-hugging impression made by the car’s low centre of gravity. The body’s dynamic wedge shape can also be best appreciated when viewing the two-seater in profile.
When opened, the BMW i8 Roadster’s broad roof retracts fully into the rear end, lending greater emphasis still to the car’s low-slung silhouette. The CFRP passenger cell’s robust structure means the soft-top could be designed with generous width and so create an amply sized window to the sky. The rear window extends into a comfort position as the roof folds away and can serve as a draught stop in any setting.
The C-pillars of the BMW i8 Roadster are emblazoned with beautifully made model-specific badges bearing the inscription “Roadster”. A similar logo can be found on the tail of the sporty two-seater.
New exterior paint finishes, exclusive light-alloy wheels
The design cues common to both the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster include the gullwing doors that open forwards and upwards as well as optimised aerodynamics. The low bonnet, almost totally blanked off BMW kidney grille, air flap control system, Air Curtains in the front apron, sealed underbody, contoured side skirts, “stream flow” lines of the car’s flanks, and air ducts between the rear lights and roof frame allow the air to be channelled extremely effectively as it hits the car on both models. The flow of cooling air at the front of each model has now been rerouted. Instead of rushing out through the outlet in the bonnet, the air escapes at the sides of the car near the wheel arches and into the underbody. This ensures a pleasant cabin temperature is maintained at all times, especially when travelling in the new BMW i8 Roadster with the roof down.
E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic have been added to the choice of exterior paint finishes available for the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster. Both are combined with accents in Frozen Grey metallic.
The new BMW i8 Roadster is equipped as standard with exclusive 20-inch light-alloy wheels in double-spoke design with mixed-size tyres. Intelligent lightweight design also make an impact here, with each wheel weighing around one kilogram less than the lightest wheels previously available for the BMW i8. In addition to the standard 20-inch turbine-style light-alloy wheels fitted on the new BMW i8 Coupe, customers can choose from another four light-alloy wheel variants with the same dimensions.
The BMW i8 Coupe also includes a model-specific design feature indicating its identity: “Coupe” badging on its C-pillars.
Innovative interior design in a range of new looks
The progressive style of the BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster also shines through clearly in their interior design. Standard specification for both models includes a sports steering wheel and multifunctional instrument display, plus Carpo interior trim comprising full-leather upholstery in Ivory White for the Coupe and Ivory White/Black for the Roadster. Carpo interior trim can alternatively be specified in dark Amido for both models and there is also the option of Halo interior trim featuring cloth/leather upholstery in a Carum/Dalbergia colour scheme.
New to the appointments portfolio for the new BMW i8 Roadster and new BMW i8 Coupe is Accaro interior trim, a high-end option featuring cloth/leather upholstery in an Amido/E-Copper colour scheme (also new).
Powertrain, chassis and body
With its intoxicating blend of advanced BMW eDrive technology, a compact, heavily turbocharged combustion engine, sophisticated chassis technology, hybrid-specific all-wheel drive and rigorously applied lightweight design measures, the BMW i8 has come to epitomise the future of driving pleasure. Since its market debut in 2014, it has established itself as the world’s highest-selling plug-in hybrid sports car. It succeeds in melding sports car performance qualities with the sort of fuel economy and emissions usually associated with compact models. The LifeDrive architecture, meanwhile, ensures a perfect distribution of weight.
The new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster are powered by a drive duo in the form of a hybrid synchronous electric motor and a three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. The engine’s power is channelled to the rear wheels through a six-speed Steptronic transmission, while the electric motor propels the front wheels via a two-speed automatic gearbox. The end result is a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that glues the car to the road.
Further refined high-voltage battery, electric motor with more power for superior driving pleasure in all-electric mode
The constant process of development has enhanced the performance capabilities offered by BMW’s eDrive technology. The energy capacity of the latest version of the model-specific lithium-ion battery is far greater, battery cell capacity having increased from 20 to 34 ampere hours (Ah) and gross energy capacity from 7.1 to 11.6 kilowatt hours (kWh, net energy capacity: 9.4 kWh). This advance is rooted primarily in advances made to the battery cell technology, which in turn stem from the BMW Group’s ever-increasing expertise in the field of electrical energy storage.
These extra energy reserves have made it possible to raise the electric motor’s peak output by 9 kW/12 hp to 105 kW/143 hp. In typical electric motor fashion, it generates its maximum torque of 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) from rest, which means it is ideally equipped to deliver razor-sharp responses to the slightest movement of the accelerator. The electric motor developed by the BMW Group also stands out with its consistent power delivery up to very high revs.
The battery cells’ higher capacity means that the proportion of all-electric driving can be increased substantially, even in hybrid mode. With the default driving mode engaged, both the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster are capable of pulling away and reaching speeds of up to 105 km/h purely on the electric motor’s power, making it possible to drive with zero local emissions not just in town, but on country roads as well. And if the eDrive button is pressed, the all-electric threshold of both models is increased further to 120 km/h.
The new high-voltage battery benefits the electric range of the two plug-in hybrid sports cars too. In the EU test cycle, the new BMW i8 Coupe achieves a maximum range of 55 kilometres (34 miles) – around 50 per cent more than before – while the figure for the new BMW i8 Roadster is 53 kilometres (33 miles).
Three-cylinder petrol engine with improved sound and lower emissions
The i8’s combustion engine has also undergone further optimisation to ready it for the new Coupe and Roadster. The turbocharged three-cylinder unit featuring direct injection and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing extracts a maximum output of 170 kW/231 hp from its displacement of just 1.5 litres, plus peak torque of 320 Nm (236 lb-ft). It is pleasantly refined and generates a distinctive soundtrack that now has an even sportier note when its power reserves are called upon. The engine also runs more cleanly, as it now comes equipped with a particulate filter as standard that effectively absorbs all the particulate matter contained in the exhaust gases.
The system output produced by the electric motor and engine acting in unison has increased to 275 kW/374 hp in the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster. The new BMW i8 Coupe accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, while the new BMW i8 Roadster takes a tick longer with a time of 4.6 seconds. Both models have an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.
Combined fuel consumption, as calculated in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, stands at 1.9 litres per 100 kilometres for the BMW i8 Coupe and 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres for the BMW i8 Roadster – which equates to petrol CO2 emissions of 42 and 46 grams per kilometre respectively – plus 14.0 kWh of electricity for the BMW i8 Coupe and 14.5 kWh for the BMW i8 Roadster. In everyday driving, both models return fuel consumption and emissions figures that undercut those for conventionally powered sports cars with similar outputs by around 50 per cent. A typical commute through city traffic and along country roads can be negotiated with fuel consumption of under five litres per 100 kilometres when utilising the two drive units. On long-distance journeys with prolonged sections of country and motorway driving, the intelligent energy management ensures that average economy betters seven litres per 100 kilometres.
Maximised driving pleasure with intelligent energy management and hybrid-specific all-wheel drive
In hybrid mode, the electric motor provides a power boost to assist the engine when vigorous acceleration is required. The electric motor is also able to recuperate energy and feed it to the high-voltage battery on the overrun and under braking. The petrol engine’s high-voltage starter-generator can similarly generate additional reserves of electricity, thereby ensuring that sufficient energy is on tap at all times for the electric drive system in the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster.
This blend of dynamism and efficiency is further honed by the intelligent energy management’s proactive function. When the navigation system’s route guidance function is activated, the energy management ensures the electric motor is employed as extensively and as wisely as possible from an efficiency point of view. The system analyses the route in full and prompts the powertrain management to run on purely electric power, particularly over low-speed sections of the journey.
BMW i8 Roadster with model-specific chassis and body features
The high-end chassis technology in the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster is based on a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle, whose aluminium components have been engineered for optimum weight and rigidity using specific design techniques and production processes. Also standard on both models is Dynamic Damper Control. The bespoke tuning of the suspension and damping systems, the specially configured steering characteristics, a firmer roll stabilisation set-up and precise tweaks of the DSC parameters together ensure the new BMW i8 Roadster boasts all of the plug-in hybrid sports car’s hallmark handling and performance qualities.
The approach of making systematic use of lightweight design measures has been meticulously adapted to the specific requirements of the Roadster model. The open-top two-seater comes with newly designed frameless gullwing doors made from CFRP with an aluminium outer shell, while the windscreen frame is made entirely from CFRP. This ultra-strong high-tech material is ideally equipped to provide exceptional rigidity, maximising the car’s occupant protection even if it rolls over. CFRP is also used to manufacture the side skirts with their extra-large cross-section. The skirts are a further contributory factor in the body’s stiffness, as are the additional panels in the rear suspension and the specially designed struts for the front and rear axle. Thanks to the high-strength CFRP body, the chassis and body elements specific to the BMW i8 Roadster result in an extremely small weight gain when compared to other open-top models. The unladen weight of the new BMW i8 Roadster stands at 1,595 kilograms, just 60 kilograms more in approximate terms than that of the new BMW i8 Coupe.
Controls, equipment, BMW Connected, ConnectedDrive and 360° ELECTRIC
Both the display and control concept and the equipment of the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster serve to enhance their exhilarating sports car feel and the intense hybrid driving experience. As well as its multifunction buttons, the leather sports steering wheel also comes with shift paddles for changing gear manually, while the standard heated seats for the driver and front passenger are electrically adjustable.
Driving Experience Control switch and eDrive button provide five driving modes
Drivers will find an eDrive button in the centre console alongside the Driving Experience Control switch to allow them to adapt not just the vehicle’s set-up but also the drive system’s operating strategy. This provides a total of five driving modes to choose from: hybrid drive with COMFORT, SPORT or ECO PRO settings and all-electric driving in COMFORT or ECO PRO mode. If the eDrive button is pressed in either COMFORT mode – which strikes an even balance between sporty and efficient characteristics – or ECO PRO mode (designed for particularly fuel-efficient driving), power is provided by the electric motor alone up to a speed of 120 km/h. The combustion engine will only cut in automatically if the battery’s energy reserves are nearly fully depleted or the driver summons full power via kickdown.
It is in SPORT mode that the intelligently controlled interaction between electric motor and combustion engine can be experienced at its most intense. Both power units deliver extra-sharp performance, accelerator response is faster and the power boost from the electric motor is maximised. And to keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode also activates maximum energy recuperation on the overrun and under braking. The intelligent energy management’s mode of operation can be visualised by calling up the energy flow graphic in the Control Display via the iDrive menu.
The instrument cluster takes the form of a fully digital multifunctional instrument display, which shows the car’s speed and driving status information in a format and colour scheme selected to suit the driving mode engaged. Traditional, orange-coloured circular dials appear in SPORT mode, in COMFORT mode, a blue “power meter” display keeps the driver up to speed on what the electric motor is up to, and ECO PRO mode supplements this with an efficiency gauge.
Navigation system Professional and Driving Assistant as standard
The Navigation system Professional, also included as standard, is controlled using the iDrive operating system, comprising both a Touch Controller on the centre console and an 8.8-inch freestanding Control Display screen. The main menu is now presented on the screen in the form of horizontally arranged tiles with a live mode. The audio system features a seven-channel amplifier as well as a USB port, while there is also the option of a Harman Kardon hi-fi speaker system and a DAB tuner for digital radio reception.
When it comes to driver assistance systems, the BMW i8 Coupe and BMW i8 Roadster are both equipped as standard with a cruise control system with braking function as well as the Driving Assistant including Surround View. The latter system comprises Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, Park Distance Control with sensors at the front and rear, High Beam Assistant, Speed Limit Info including No Passing Info display, and the Side View and Top View functions. The list of optional extras includes a model-specific BMW Head-Up Display. When the driver is shifting gears manually in SPORT mode, this switches to a sport display that adds an rpm readout, gear indicator and Optimum Shift Indicator.
Non-dazzling laser headlights with high-beam range of 600 metres
The BMW i8 was the world’s first production vehicle to be equipped with pioneering laser headlights. The non-dazzling BMW Laserlight with BMW Selective Beam achieves a remarkable high-beam range of 600 metres, double that of the full-LED headlights fitted as standard on the BMW i8 Coupe and BMW i8 Roadster, which are themselves exceptionally powerful.
Another optional extra available for the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster is an acoustic pedestrian warning, which makes it easier for pedestrians to notice the vehicle when driving at low speeds in all-electric mode by generating a distinctive identifying sound similar to the noise from a turbine. The acoustic pedestrian warning is active up to 30 km/h, i.e. at the sort of speeds where tyre noise and wind noise are barely audible.
BMW Connected and ConnectedDrive: sustainable mobility as an integral part of digital lifestyles
The enthralling driving experience offered by a plug-in hybrid sports car is further enriched by the digital services offered by BMW Connected and ConnectedDrive. Intelligent connectivity between vehicle, driver and the outside world paves the way for remarkably efficient mobility, increases comfort, expands the infotainment offering and helps with individual mobility planning.
BMW Connected is a personal mobility assistant that interfaces the vehicle with the customer’s selected touchpoints, such as a smartphone or smartwatch, via the flexible Open Mobility Cloud platform. This turns the personal mobility assistant into a seamlessly integrated component of the driver’s digital life, available anytime and anywhere. The new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster also benefit from the latest BMW Connected and BMW Connected+ digital services. These include intelligent route planning, complete with refuelling stops at a charging station or filling station (Send my Routes to Car), sharing of the current trip status by text message and live link (Share Live Trip Status), personalised display of the relevant in-vehicle information (BMW Onboard), seamless transfer of route guidance to a smartphone or smartwatch once the car has been parked (Navigate Door-to-Door) and linking of contact details and addresses so they can be imported directly into the navigation system (My Destinations).
ConnectedDrive Services are also included as standard, providing access to functions such as Real Time Traffic Information and On-Street Parking Information, as well as the Concierge Services. The car’s built-in SIM card also allows drivers to use the BMW Teleservices and Intelligent Emergency Call with automatic locating and accident severity detection. ConnectedDrive Services are also required to access additional services such as Online Entertainment and unlimited internet access, as well as to integrate various apps.
The BMW Display Key and BMW Connected for smartphones and smartwatches allow the vehicle status to be checked at any time
The standard BMW Display Key provides the driver with a handy way of accessing important vehicle status information at any time. Not only can the fuel level, battery charge, range and service information all be viewed on its 2.2-inch touchscreen display, the BMW Display Key can also be used to operate the door locks and power windows. Meanwhile, the BMW Connected personal mobility assistant also allows the most important vehicle information – such as the remaining range and battery charge – to be accessed on the customer’s digital touchpoints (e.g. their smartphone or smartwatch). The functions which can already be called up from the customer’s home using the Alexa voice-controlled assistant or Google Home, or controlled via Remote Services, can also be displayed fully by BMW Connected.
360° ELECTRIC: new charging cable, connected BMW i Wallbox
BMW i represents an all-embracing concept for sustainable and forward-looking mobility and has bundled together an extensive ecosystem of solutions for electric driving under the umbrella of 360° ELECTRIC. These products and services are designed to help make electric mobility in the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster a convenient and practical experience every day. Both models are supplied with a mode 2 charging cable as standard, enabling the high-voltage battery fitted in the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster to be recharged from a standard domestic socket in under four-and-a-half hours. The new mode 3 cable can also be used to hook up the car to a public charging point for high-power charging.
The BMW i Wallbox makes home charging particularly easy and convenient. The latest version of the Wallbox allows the high-voltage battery to be recharged at a rate of up to 3.6 kW, meaning that charging can be completed in under three hours. The BMW i Wallbox Connect extends the functionality of the unique BMW Digital Charging Service to enable intelligent charging based around optimised cost efficiency or preferential use of self-generated solar power. There is additionally a facility for controlling the charging process from a smartphone via BMW Connected and for managing usage with an access card. Drivers have to register just once to gain universal access to the world’s largest network of public charging stations via the ChargeNow card, which currently opens up an array of more than 65,000 charging points in 29 countries.
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