It's alive! BMW is road testing the i8 roadster that CEO Harald Krüger promised us last year. Speculation has been offering a 2018 delivery date, which seems possible now that a spy photographer has captured images of an actual roofless i8.
A close look at the spy shots shows another startling revelation—BMW has changed its camouflage patterns. Or maybe it's a special scheme just for the i8. The swirls have given way to an almost art car-ish grid of squiggly horizontal and vertical lines.
The car looks a lot like the BMW i8 Concept Spyder from a few years ago, except the twin humps behind the seats are spaced farther apart and are lower. We might guess that the looks of the concept car were trumped by the practicality of building a car for the street with at least a chance of seeing what's behind (the first rule of Italian driving notwithstanding).
Since Krüger made his announcement, we've been wondering how the car's top would be treated. It was almost a given that a conventional convertible top—hard or soft—would be tough to do since the engine takes up most of the room behind the cabin. Unless the i8 in the spy shot is hiding some serious retractable machinery, it looks like the roof on this car might be manually removed and stowed.
The BMW i8 Coupe is a 2+2. Okay, maybe a 2+1.5. The roadster is most likely just a 2 with no plus, which means the best luggage carrier for a couple taking a long road trip in an i8 roadster might be Fedex.
As for the wheels, BMW could be guilty of a little cost-cutting here. The rims on the roadster in the spy shot look similar to those on the original i8 Concept.
Since the BMW i8 Coupe will be four model years old in 2018 when the roadster (spyder) comes along, some industry observers have speculated that the Coupe will get a Life Cycle Improvement that might adopt some of the features of the Formula E Safety Car i8, and that the i8 roadster would also benefit from any powertrain or suspension upgrades.
Many questions still surround the i8 roadster and we may have to wait a year or more to have them all answered. But it's nice to see the car is real.—Scott Blazey
[Photos courtesy of CarAdvice.com.au and BMW AG.]