BMW has launched the i8 Roadster at the Los Angeles Auto Show, with the new convertible joined by an updated coupe at the same time.
Both the new i8 Roadster and i8 Coupe get a larger capacity battery – up from 7.1 kWh to 11.6 kWh – brought about by improved internal chemistry, in the same manner that increased the i3 supermini’s range without changing the physical size of the battery.
As such, the i8 Coupe now has official CO2 emissions of 42 g/km, rather than the 49 g/km of the pre-updated model. The new i8 Roadster has tailpipe emissions rated at 46 g/km CO2, and both hard- and soft-top models have official fuel economy figures of 149.8 MPG and 134.8 MPG respectively. Electric driving range is rated at 34 miles for the coupe and 33 miles for the roadster.
Power output is the same for both models, with a combined 374hp and 320 Nm of torque available from a 231hp 1.5 litre turbo petrol unit and 143hp electric motor. The top speed is 155 mph, with the i8 Coupe reaching 62mph from standstill in just 4.4 seconds, with the i8 Roadster taking 0.2 seconds longer.
BMW’s calculations take in real-world driving too, with the company saying that both models will undercut fuel consumption figures when compared to similarly powered sportscars by around 50%. A typical commute through city traffic and country roads – though no mention of how long this trip is – will return more than 56 MPG when using the i8 in hybrid mode. Over long distances, with little availability to stop and charge, the i8 models will return more than 40 MPG.
Both models will feature Dynamic Damper Control as standard, which looks to keep the handling capabilities of each version up to BMW’s high standards. The i8 Roadster has tailored settings to deal with the different chassis required for removing the roof. Use of carbon fibre in the i8 Roadster means that it weighs just 60kg more than the coupe, despite requiring added strengthening.
The i8 Roadster can open and close its fabric electric roof in 16 seconds, and at speeds of up to 31mph. The three sections of the roof fold in an z-shape, and is stored perpendicular to its position when closed, to maximise storage space available.
Five driving modes are available to choose from, with Comfort, Sport, or Eco Pro in hybrid drive, and Comfort or Eco Pro in electric mode. The electric motor will power the i8 up to speeds of 75mph before the engine kicks in when in EV mode.
Charging will take less than 4.5 hours to charge from the mains, and less than three hours via a 3.7 kW home wallbox or public point.
Coming with high levels of equipment, the i8 Roadster starts from £124,730, and the i8 Coupe from £112,730. Neither qualify for the OLEV Plug-in Car Grant on grounds of cost, priced well over the £60,000 threshold for non-Category 1 cars. With CO2 emissions less than 50 g/km and an electric range well in excess of 10 miles, both i8 models sit in Category 2.