BMW i8 Roadster Launched: An Open-Top Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car

Having Won Accolades For It’s Visionary Design And Trailblazing Concept Since It First Hit The Roads In 2014 , The BMW i8  Gives Way To The All New BMW i8 Roadster – A Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car That Now Comes With A Drop Top

BMW i8 Roadster

It was in 2014 that the BMW i8 first hit the roads and had allured zillion BMW fans for its innovative plug-in hybrid concept and a full-blooded sports car design. The progressively designed 2+2 seater sports car won many awards for its futuristic design as well as trailblazing vehicle concept and thus became world’s highest selling hybrid sports car within no time.

So to give a new dimension to the ingenious new concept that marked the original i8, German car giant introduced the BMW i8 Roadster at the LA Auto Show 2017. What sets apart this new i8 adaptation from it’s former model is the augmented exterior design that incorporates a soft top roof. Needless to say, this two-seater Thoroughbred featuring the i8’s combination of locally emission-free mobility and high-calibre performance gives way to the open air motoring with an edge i.e. zero CO2 emissions.

And as with BMW’s electric vehicle designs, the very framework of the BMW i8 Roadster is also based on the LifeDrive Module that comprises of two separate units – the Life Module and the Drive Module. While the aluminium Drive module brings together the powertrain, high-voltage battery, suspension, crash system and structural functions, the Life module takes the form of a passenger cell hewn from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

This innovative LifeDrive vehicle architecture thus render a weight-optimized design and offers low centre of gravity to all BMW i vehicles. Must say, the combination of innovative architectural concept and an aerodynamically optimized exterior certainly gives way to a highbred such as BMWi8 Roadster all set to unleash the power and exude elegance marked by it’s discrete silhouette.

First, About The Top Roof

As mentioned earlier, the new BMW i8 Roadster features a drop top-roof designed using a high-quality, all-season fabric with additional soundproofing – a primary modification to the original i8 design. The drop top-roof operates electronically and hence opens or closes within a span of just 15 seconds while driving at 50 km/h. This does not make it the fastest drop top to collapse but impressive enough to fall in the league of convertibles with the fastest convertible roofs. So the new BMW i8 Roadster with its wide-opening roof offers that very driving pleasure that one expects and relates with an ideal sports car.

The drop roof stows away into a perpendicular position in the rear and takes the shape of a Z thus taking up very little space. Such an arrangement offers an additional space of around 100 litres between the roof box and the seats for the driver and front passenger. Hence, 88 litres worth cargo load area in the rear combined with additional space contributed by the open-top version means you are all sorted for your every day trips!

BMW i8 Roadster

Another draw of the drop top action in the i8 Roadster is the automatic increase in height of the rear window by around 30 millimetres as and when the drop roof opens. This renders the rear window to act as an obstruction to the air flowing in thus reducing air turbulence inside the cabin and ensuring open-top driving pleasure for those on board.

BMW eDrive technology


BMW i8 Roadster

To create an exceptional driving experience marked by increased efficiency, the BMW i8 combined the benefits of an electric motor and a petrol engine as a plug-in hybrid thus leading to a propulsion system that offered perfect interplay between BMW eDrive technology and petrol engine. Taking this baton forward is the all new BMW i8 Roadster that incorporates an enhanced eDrive technology compared to its predecessor.

The augmented BMW eDrive Technology allows for significant increase in the number of driving situations where the electric motor is solely responsible for powering the car. Thus, this means the combustion engine is only brought into play when accelerating hard, and is switched off again far more frequently with a measured driving style. Needless to say, such an optimized strategy for intelligent management of energy by i8 Roadster makes it earn the status of a ‘future’ sports car that will lend drivers the freedom of open-top motoring with zero local emissions.

So what drives this enhanced eDrive Technology is the latest version of the model-specific lithium-ion battery having an energy capacity of 34 ampere hours (Ah) – the previous version of the battery however entailed 20 Ah of cell capacity. Such an enhanced cell capacity allowed for increase in motor’s peak output by 9 kW/12 hp to touch 105 kW/143 hp  thereby offering top speed drive even on pure electric power. Furthermore, such a high-voltage battery rendered an extension of the i8’s electric range as the new BMW i8 Roadster can now cover upto cover up to 53 kilometres (33 miles) with zero local emissions.


The new BMW i8 Roadster is a new breed of sports car that puts at display the finest interplay of athleticism,  aerodynamism, sustainability and efficiency given its groundbreaking lightweight design, systematic improvement of aerodynamics and advanced plug-in hybrid technology.

The 2 seater i8 Roadster featuring a drop top, gullwing doors that open forwards and upwards as well as optimised aerodynamics attach that blazing sensation that one expects out of a sports car. The body of i8 Roadster is wedge shaped and hence keeps the very essence of  a 2 seater intact. The open top that retracts fully into the rear end just adds on to the car’s low-slung silhouette besides giving way to a generously sized window to the sky that is just the result of its Life Module structure.

The rear window automatically increases in height once the roof top drops and acts as an obstruction for the air flowing in thus reducing air turbulence.  Furthermore, those model-specific badges bearing the “Roadster” inscription on the C-Pillars as well as on the tail of i8 Roadster add on to the flamboyance that a 2 seater is expected to showcase.

The athletic front displays BMW double kidney grill bounded by full-LED headlights and redesigned Air Curtains. The distinctive V-shaped black belt that starts at the bonnet, stretches along the entire car thus underlining its flat silhouette and the impressive stream flow design.  This also helps in optimizing airflow and creating exceptional aerodynamics.

The Turbo Engine Sound And Performance

BMW i8 Roadster

The i8 Roadster comes equipped with the Turbocharged three-cylinder combustion engine that 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). With a drop top incorporated into its design, now the driver on board the BMW i8 Roadster can bask on to the more sportier soundtrack generated by the Turbocharged three-cylinder combustion engine as the top roof sits in the rear – a sheer sports car driving pleasure!

Besides rendering a sportier edge, the combustion engine runs more cleanly as it comes equipped with a particulate filter that absorbs all the particulate matter that the exhaust gasses carry.

And now some stats on the performance! The output produced by the electric motor and the combustion engine acting in unity has increased to 275 kW/374 hp in the BMW i8 Roadster. The new i8 Roadster accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds with 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 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres for the BMW i8 Roadsterwhich sums up to petrol CO2 emissions of 46 grams per kilometre. Plus 14.5 kWh of electricity for the BMW i8 Roadster.

i8 Roadster Is An All-Wheel Drive

BMW i8 Roadster

The all new BMW i8 Roadster is powered by a duo drive that comprises of an electric motor and a three-cylinder petrol engine with  BMW TwinPower Turbo technology that work in unison according to the driving mode and situation and thus create ab exceptional driving experience in terms of efficiency and dynamism.

The combustion engine’s power is transmitted to the rear wheels, while the electric motor drives the front wheels via a two-speed automatic gearbox thus resulting in a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that increases traction.

BMW i8 Roadster Controls

BMW i8 Roadster

The BMW i8 Roadster’s dashboard design is slightly updated to incorporate the latest version of the iDrive operating system that comprises of both a Touch Controller on the centre console and an 8.8-inch freestanding Control Display screen.

The eDrive button in the centre console alongside the Driving Experience Control switch allows the driver to switch between five different driving modes – hybrid drive with COMFORT, SPORT or ECO PRO settings and all-electric driving in COMFORT or ECO PRO mode – each mode providing a unique kind of interaction between the combustion engine and the electric motor.

As for the audio features, i8 Roadster comes with a seven-channel amplifier as well as a USB port and an option for a Harman Kardon hi-fi speaker system plus a DAB tuner for digital radio reception. To assist the drivers while driving, the i8 Roadster is incorporated with standard with a cruise control system with braking function as well as the Driving Assistant that comprise of a host of functions other than rendering surround view thus helping the driver in steering the wheel with an ease.

The delightful driving experience offered by a plug-in hybrid sports car is further enriched by the digital services offered by BMW Connected and ConnectedDrive.


Thus, the BMW i8 Roadster is another exciting episode that would be written in the success story of BM i8 that was introduced in the year 2014. The all new two seater sports car comes with an electrically operated soft-top that adds a whole new sensation of freedom to the combination of locally emission-free mobility and high-calibre performance that the original i8 has been known for.

The LifeDrive vehicle architecture together with optimized BMW eDrive technology comprising a high-voltage battery with significantly expanded cell capacity and energy content, and an electric motor generating a higher peak output, make the all new BMW i8 Roadster showcases increased performance, operating range and the amount of driving possible using purely the electric drive system.

Thus, by incorporating open-top roof along with enhanced BMW eDrive technology, the BMW i8 Roadster is a future sports car that welcomes silent motoring in the form of zero CO2 emissions along with extreme driving pleasure.

About the Author: Akanksha

Akanksha Bajaj is the Editorial Assistant for She is a B.Com Honours graduate and has done masters in Marketing and Finance. She started her career with Deloitte, Hyderabad, India working for the Securitisation Service Line. Since she was really good in romanticizing and penning her thoughts and articulating them well, throughout this period she used to get appreciation and encouragement for her writings and articles that she had been writing. So finally Shopholicx was the right place to hit to follow her passion.

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