BMW i8 Spyder to debut soon?

The topless i8 could be introduced next year as part of BMW\'s centennial celebrations.

A new report claims BMW is preparing to introduce a topless version of the gasoline-electric i8 sports car.

Speaking to German newspaper Handelsblatt, BMW CEO Harald Krüger confirmed the convertible -- which is tentatively called i8 Spyder -- will make its official debut relatively soon. It will be nearly identical to the i8 Concept Spyder (pictured) that was presented at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show, meaning it will be equipped with removable roof panels instead of a power-retractable cloth soft top like the 2 Series Convertible.

The i8 isn't expected to undergo major mechanical modifications in its transformation from a coupe to a convertible. Look for the Spyder to use a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain made up of a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine tuned to deliver 231 horsepower, a 131-horsepower electric motor located on the front axle, and a lithium-ion battery pack. The two power sources will allow the i8 Spyder to reach 62 mph from a stop in about 4.4 seconds and reach an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. Gas mileage will check in at roughly 94 mpg.

Krüger declined to provide a more specific time frame, but his comments suggest the i8 Spyder could be introduced next year as part of BMW's centennial celebrations. If that's the case, it will go on sale nationwide as a 2017 model. It will carry a premium over its fixed-roof counterpart (pictured), which starts at $140,700 before incentives are factored in, and become the most expensive member of the BMW lineup.

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