BMW has offered a first official glimpse of its i8 Roadster, which will be launched alongside a facelifted version of the coupé early next year.
A video posted on social media (see below) shows the car wearing camouflage and confirms that it will retain the dihedral doors of its hard-roof sibling.
Both the Roadster and hard-top variants of BMW's plug-in hybrid Porsche 911 rival will receive aesthetic and mechanical updates, while the starting price is expected to increase slightly.
The external updates will include new headlights with a more intricate LED design, while the Roadster 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 look of the BMW i Vision Future Interaction concept of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
The Roadster'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 1560kg.
The new i8s are expected to get a 10% power hike from an upgraded petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, taking power up to 420bhp, about 5bhp less than the turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six that powers the BMW M3. The i8s are powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine combined with a front-mounted synchronous electric motor.
Interior upgrades are expected as well, with BMW's latest iDrive infotainment system with gesture control technology likely to be adopted.
The i8 coupé currently costs from £106,310, but the facelifted model is expected to have a slight price increase. The Roadster will be priced above the coupé, so a starting price of more than £110,000 is possible.
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 development of autonomous vehicles. The latest BMW 7 Series and BMW 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 Roadster will eventually be joined by the iNext, which is due in 2021. That car will have autonomous capabilities up to Level 3.5, which will allow full driverless travel in certain environments.