So BMW have bowed to increased government pressures to build electric and hybrid cars, the whole i division is built around that fact. So far it seems it’s a success, both the i3 and i8 were released to rave reviews from journalists and customers alike. 3 years after its release the i8 is still one of the best looking cars on the market today, the problem comes in though at the performance stage. Hybridisation has forced BMW to make sure their cars are as economical as possible and they have succeeded. The i8 can reach an amazing 134MPG. But this doesn’t mean that BMW should forget its motorsport roots.
Just because a car is a hybrid doesn’t mean it can’t be fast, the P1, LaFerarri and 918 trio have proved that. But so far BMW have refrained from going all out into the super hybrid market, whilst still quick (the i8 has a 0-62 time of 4.4 seconds) the i8 struggles to keep up with its sub 4 second rivals from Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes. So could BMW up the anti a little bit, and give it that M division sprinkle we all love so much. In the past the M division have transformed previously underperforming BMWs, the Z4M and 1M-coupe spring to mind, but what could they make out of a humble i8.
Firstly I don’t think BMW need to ditch the hybrid to make a great performance car, these increasing pressures aren’t going away any time soon so it makes sense for the M division to get stuck into the hybrid powertrain. As early as 2015 Auto Express reported that BMW were looking into a ‘hardcore i8’. Sources only referred to as BMW insiders said that the turbo charged 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine was going to be replaced by a larger 2.0-litre 4 cylinder.
BMW don’t necessarily need to make a new supercar killer, but they currently have nothing to go up against their big rival Audi’s R8 and I think with a few tweaks the i8 could be the R8 killer. Rather than going for a 3-cylinder or 4-cylinder, go the whole way and use the twin turbo straight 6 out of the M4, that teamed with the electric motors could make a killer hybrid. The size and weight of the engine could be an issue for the relatively small i8 engine bay but BMW M division cars have always been larger and wider than their more sedate configurations so with some modifications the M division engineers are sure to fit an engine in without spoiling the i8’s good looks. The i8M could even be the BMW supercar fans have been asking for since the M1 was phased out.
Sadly its unlikely any of this will ever happen, the i8 is already a success and BMW almost certainly don’t want to jinx it by introducing a faster more powerful model. The i8 has the potential to be BMW’s super car killer and a new demonstration of BMWs commitment to create ‘the ultimate driving machine’. The i8 is a glimpse into the future of what sports and super cars are going to be going forward, gone are the days of the screaming V12s and thunderous V8s the future is hybrids and electric cars and the i8 is a stepping stone to something bigger, something cleaner and most importantly something faster.
Photo credit - Milos Dvorak