The new hybrid model gets a soft-top targa-style roof and will reach the UK in 2018

These are the first pictures of a BMW i8 Roadster prototype testing ahead of its launch in 2018.

The new drop-top hybrid model, which will be new to the range as part of the i8's mid-life facelift, is seen here winter testing with a hard-top i8 coupé and a Rolls-Royce Dawn.

The spy pictures show a soft-top targa-style roof, with a different rear-end design to that of its hard-top sibling inspired by the BMW i Vision Future concept revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last year. To lower the roof, drivers will need to manually remove it and stow it away. The roadster design will likely make it heavier than the i8 coupé, but it's not known how this will impact performance.

The roadster, like the facelifted coupé, could get a 10% power hike over the current generation which would take its output up to 420bhp using an upgraded petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. Currently, the i8 coupé is powered by a fettled turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine combined with a front-mounted synchronous electric motor.

Upgrades in the cabin are expected as well, with BMW's latest iDrive system with gesture control technology likely to be adopted.

The i8 coupé costs from £100,000, but the facelifted model is expected to have a slight price increase. This new roadster will be priced above the coupé, so an entry-level price of around £110,000 is expected.

BMW's i electric car sub-brand has also been testing a hot version of the i3 recently, while BMW has been boosted by a business deal with Intel and Mobileye to help development of autonomous vehicles. The latest BMW 7 Series and 5BMW 5 Series both have semi-autonomous driving capabilites, and upgrades to the latest i8 could also include the hybrid inheriting this technology.

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