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BMW teases drop-top i8 Roadster

Convertible version of plug-in hybrid BMW i8 sportscar due in Aus late 2018

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BMW logo15 Nov 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

BMW has teased the upcoming roadster version of its i8 plug-in hybrid sportscar that will become the third member of BMW’s electrified i family when it lands in Australian showrooms towards the end of next year.

The convertible version joins the hard-top i8 that launched Down Under in October 2014 with a pricetag of $299,000 plus on-roads.

The i8 Roadster will likely add a price premium over the i8 coupe, which currently retails for $303,300.

BMW has released a number of images of the vehicle in its final stage of testing at the Leipzig plant in its home country, which reveals little about the vehicle other than it will sport a targa-style fabric-top roof instead of a folding hard-top.

While the coupe currently returns a 2.1 litres per 100km fuel figure, a mid-life update due next year that will coincide with the release of the Roadster is expected to bring fuel use down to 2.0L/100km.

In the video released by BMW, it appears the Roadster will consume 2.1L/100km due to the extra weight from the roof-folding mechanism.

The video also shows the Roadster undergoing rigidity testing, hinting that BMW is aiming to make the chassis of the Roadster as stable as the coupe.

As previously revealed in earlier teaser images, the Roadster will gain new LED headlights with the hexagonal design that is becoming ubiquitous on BMW models, and it will keep the wild dihedral doors from the hard-top.

The Roadster is expected to retain the same petrol-electric powertrain as the coupe, given the similarity in fuel economy.

In the coupe, a 170kW/320Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine is teamed to a 96kW/250Nm electric motor for a combined output of 266kW/570Nm, allowing for a 4.5-second zero to 100km/h sprint time.

A six-speed automatic transmission sends drive from the combustion engine to the rear wheels, while the front wheels are fed by the electric motor, creating all-wheel drive.

Sales of the i8 have slowed in 2017, with 21 units sold to the end of October representing a 27.6 per cent skid over the 29 it achieved to the same point last year.

Its only real competition in the hybrid supercar segment is the $420,000 Honda NSX which has recorded just a single sale in 2017, but it also competes with the likes of the Porsche 911 (387 sales), Ferrari range (139) and Mercedes-AMG GT (122) in the $200,000-plus sportscar segment.

The production i8 Roadster will be revealed closer to its on-sale date late next year.

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