i8 Roadster has NZ release potential

An open-top i8 that will be fully unveiled next month is of interest to BMW NZ.


POTENTIAL that BMW NZ’s electrified vehicle push between now and 2020 will include a roadster edition of the flagship i8 is being signalled.

However, the brand says it is not yet able to say for certain if the plug-in hybridi8 Roadster that is expected to be formally unveiled at September’s Frankfurt motor show is a definite New Zealand market starter.

“It is always under consideration,” explained spokesman Paul Sherley. “But that is all we can say at the moment.

“We still don’t know too much about it.”

The company recently made the confirmation of the second i8 body style – complementing the existing two-door Coupe launched in New Zealand three years ago – with a teaser video of a camouflaged pre-production mule in wind tunnel testing.

Though the national i8 count here is small, at around 30 units with 2015 seemingly the best year (with 11 registrations), Sherley says BMW New Zealand is pleased with how the $280,000 coupe is selling.

“It’s going really well. We’re on target with our projections.”

At the moment, BMW foots just two open-top cars here, in the form of convertible editions of the 4-Series and 2-Series.

Sherley declined to offer thought about what level of interest might exist here for an open i8.

“We would certainly look at it when it becomes available to us.”

He said the car’s release timing and right-hand-drive availability were not yet clear.

Although details are scant, the Roadster appears to be similar to the original i8 concept, called the i8 Coupe Spyder (the silver car pictured today), which BMW first revealed at Auto China 2012 in Beijing.

Overseas reports say the production model has a targa-style fabric folding roof that folds away behind the seats. The Coupe’s side-rear windows have been deleted and the glass rear hatch replaced with a flat vertical glass pane behind the cockpit.

The i8's floating aerodynamic curves towards the roofline remain, but now terminate as twin buttresses. The signature scissor-style dihedral doors are retained.

Updated LED headlights – including the Bavarian company's new hexagonal design – are expected to be shared with the Coupe when it gets a mid-life update – or Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) in BMW speak – in 2018.

The Coupe is also expected to share fuel efficiency improvements with the Roadster, which BMW says consumes 2.0 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle test, while emitting 45 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. This compares with the current Coupe’s 2.1L/100km and 49g/km.

Overseas reports have it that the i8 Roadster will employ a more powerful version of the Coupe's prevailing petrol/electric powertrain combination, as well as a larger battery pack for increased electric driving range.

As it stands, a 170kW/320Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine is paired with a 96kW/250Nm electric motor for a total system output of 266kW/570Nm. The Coupe clocks 0-100kmh in 4.5 seconds.

BMW NZ has already confirmed that it is in line to take fully electric versions of the Mini Countryman and next-generation X3 and is also keen on the iNext, a medium model within the ‘i’

car line sitting between the i3 and i8. It is conjected that the iNext will be called the i5 when it reaches production in 2020.