BMW takes its best selling plug-in hybrid sports car, adds a bigger battery and chops the roof off for environmentally responsible top-down motoring.
BMW i8 fans were in for a treat at the 2017 LA Auto Show. According to the BMW press release that dropped earlier today (Nov. 29,2017), BMW unveiled the final production version of its updated plug-in hybrid roadster giving the sports coupe updated eDrive technology including a roadster variant that’s sure to become one of the darlings of responsible motoring for the Hollywood elite. And since it’s a plug-in hybrid with a capable enough battery, electric only motoring without firing up the 1.5L internal combustion engine, since it was introduced, is one of the biggest draws. Check out a couple of press photos from the LA launch below.
While the innovative design elements of the BMW i8 remain pretty much the same, save the roadster’s top, the updated plug-in hybrid system is noteworthy with more punch and range. BMW says the 1.5L three-cylinder turbocharged gas engine remains the same with power output still at a whopping 231 HP. BMW ensures that this engine will sound and pollute slightly less thanks to an integrated particular filter (reworked catalytic converter.)
Battery size jumps from 7.1 kWh to 11.6 kWh giving the electric motor enough punch to add 12 more HP than last year for a final output of 374 HP.
Electric only range increases from 15 miles to 33-34 miles depending if you’ve got the heavier roadster or not.
The blast to 60 MPH takes just 4.4 seconds in the hardtop and .2 seconds longer with the roadster.
Top-down motoring is now a thing for 2018. BMW tried its best to keep the weight penalty of a roadster down but ultimately there’s an additional 132 pounds added. Opening and closing the top takes 16 seconds and can be done at speeds up to 31mph, perfect for that LA traffic crawl.
Taking a cue from its larger siblings, not in the ibrand, a host of driver assistance features ensures that i8 owners have adaptive cruise control, a heads-up display, navigation with real-time traffic, and park assist to help you slot into tight spaces, features you’d expect to find in more expensive coupes.
Sales of the BMW i8 have been lackluster at best given the amount of technology and performance you get. Its best year was in 2015 with 2265 units sold in the United States. Sales every year have gone down in comparison. For 2017, it looks like BMW won’t even get to sell more than 500 units.
The question is will all these new updates be enough to get customers excited about a plug-in hybrid sports coupe. My bet is probably no.