The facelifted BMW i8 is all set to launch in international markets early next year, along with a drop-top variant that is expected to be called the i8 Spyder.
Both variants of the plug-in hybrid will receive aesthetic and mechanical updates. The external updates will include new headlights with a more intricate LED design, while the Spyder will swap the standard i8’s tailgate for a pair of buttresses behind the driver and passenger, adding more visual drama. These have been adapted from the BMW i Vision Future Interaction concept shown at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Interior upgrades are expected as well, and BMW's latest iDrive infotainment system with gesture control technology is likely to be adopted.
The Spyder's soft-top must be removed manually and stowed away. The open-top model's design is likely to make it heavier than the i8 coupé which currently weighs 1,560kg.
An upgraded petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is expected to give the new i8s a 10 percent power hike, taking power up to 426hp – about 5hp less than the 3.0-litre, turbocharged straight-six that powers the BMW M3. The i8s are powered by a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine combined with a front-mounted synchronous electric motor.
The updated i8 range will come soon after BMW's i electric car sub-brand launches a hot version of the i3. The i brand's models will benefit from a new business deal with Intel and Mobileye to help in the development of autonomous vehicles. The latest BMW 7-series and 5-series both have semi-autonomous driving capabilities, and upgrades to the latest i8 could also include the hybrid inheriting this technology.
The i8 and Spyder will eventually be joined by the iNext that is due in 2021. The car is said to allow full driverless travel in certain environments.