BMW says that the new 2018 BMW i8 is the sports car of the future, in the showrooms of today. Now the model is set to take the combination of emission-free driving and high-performance to a higher level, by adding open-top thrills.
Following the Roadster’s world première at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, the order book will open in January, and the Roadster will be joined in showrooms by the mid-life update of the 2018 BMW i8 Coupé.
Both models are based on the LifeDrive vehicle architecture that’s purpose-built and 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 carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell, unique to the segment.
BMW’s rigorously-developed eDrive technology powers both the i8 Roadster and Coupé. The high-voltage unit is located centrally under the car, and its cell capacity is increased from 20 to 34Ah. As a result, peak output is increased by 12hp, to 143hp and electric-only range is boosted to a maximum of 33 miles (34 miles in the Coupé).
New exterior paint finishes and exclusive light-alloy wheels will be available for both models; E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic have been added, both combined with accents in Frozen Grey metallic. The i8 Roadster and Coupé will be equipped with exclusive, 20in, light-alloy wheels in a W-spoke design, with each weighing about 1kg less than the lightest wheels previously available for the i8.
The i8’s combustion engine has also undergone further improvements. The 1.5-litre turbocharged, three-cylinder unit featuring direct injection and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing, produces 231hp and peak torque of 320Nm. It’s pleasantly refined and generates a distinctive soundtrack that now boasts an even sportier note.
As well as sounding better, the engine also runs more cleanly, as it now comes equipped with a particulate filter as standard, which effectively absorbs all the particulate matter contained in the exhaust gases.
Overall, the car’s total power output has increased to 374hp, meaning that the new i8 Coupé will accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, while the new i8 Roadster completes the sprint in 4.6 seconds. Both models have an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. 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 75mph. 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’s 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 extrasharp performance, accelerator response is faster and the power boost from the electric motor is maximised. To help keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode also activates maximum energy recuperation on the overrun and under braking.
One of the many optional extras available for both models is an acoustic pedestrian warning, which highlights the car’s presence when it’s being driven at speeds under 18mph, by emitting a distinctive, turbine-like noise.
New i8 in a nutshell
Now available in two body variants
Improved eDrive for longer range
All-electric roof operates in 16secs
On sale from January 2018
Basic price UK 2018 / Coupé from £112,730 / Roadster from £124,730
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