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BMW i8 Roadster arrives Down Under from $348,900+ORC…price hike for i8 Coupe

BMW Australia has raised the pricetag of its i8 Coupe by $18,600 as the facelifted model arrives locally accompanied by the first-ever and even-pricier i8 Roadster.

DESPITE SALES plummeting by 38.5 per cent so far this year to a mere eight units tallied up to June 2018, the first facelift of the three-year old hybrid supercar will be priced from a higher $318,900 plus on-road costs for the i8 Coupe and $348,900+ORC for the new i8 Roadster. Our Paul Horrell has already driven and reviewed the new i8 Roadster, read his review.

Headlining – beyond a fabric roofline – the mildly nip-and-tucked i8 range is a battery size upped by 80 per cent from 7.1 to 11.5 kiloWatt hours, all squeezed into the same packaging as before owing to improvements in cell-density technology since this BMW lobbed in 2014.

That means the electric-only driving range of this part-petrol, part-battery powered two-door has increased from 37 kilometres to 55km, although BMW openly claims that about 40km can be expected from real-world driving.

For the other 45km when the carry-over 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine kicks in, making up a 100km total, the i8 has actually increased fuel usage from 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres to 2.2L/100km for coupe and 2.4L/100km for the roadster.

The petrol engine continues with 170kW of power and 320Nm driving the rear wheels only, however the electric motor powering the front wheels has been upped by 9kW, to 105kW, although its 250Nm is unchanged. A 275kW/570Nm total isn’t enough for a speed boost, with the coupe still claiming a 4.4-second 0-100km/h, and the new Roadster taking 4.6sec.

The 1535kg i8 Coupe is 65kg lighter than the i8 Roadster, which has a fabric-topped roof that can be lowered in 15 seconds at up to 50km/h. An owner loses the back seats of the hard-top as well, although more storage space is claimed to compensate and BMW reckons the carbonfibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP) chassis is so strong it loses little rigidity going soft.

Although both i8 bodystyles can be plugged into a normal powerpoint to recharge, a BMW i Wallbox or public fast-charge station will enable a maximum 3.7kW of charging power, good enough to recharge the battery pack to 80 per cent in 2.5 hours. The BMW eDrive system can now speed up to 120km/h on battery power alone, as well.

While inside the scissor-door supercars have received BMW’s latest iDrive 6 software, Apple CarPlay is optional as per the rest of the German brand’s lineup. Full-LED headlights remain as standard, complete with laserlight automatic-adaptive high-beam functionality, but active safety technology such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assistance hasn’t been added – while the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) activates only at city speeds and switches off above that.

The facelifted i8 Coupe and Roadster lob at a time when BMW Australia is calling for the government to incentivise low-emission vehicles to help new and currently more expensive technology gain traction in the market. Currently the federal government charges buyers 33 per cent for every dollar spent over $75,526 even for the most frugal premium vehicles.

However, while the pricetag of the i8 Coupe has been raised by almost $40K, rival Audi has dropped the pricetag of its fuel-sucking petrol V10-engined R8 supercar by almost $55K as part of a limited edition model in a bid to improve its sales performance.

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Dan DeGasperi

Dan DeGasperi