Illustration by Radovan VaricakCar and Driver
- The next-generation BMW i8 hybrid sports car will place a greater emphasis on performance.
- It will use a powerful plug-in-hybrid powertrain with up to 600 horsepower.
- Expect this new BMW sports car to arrive in 2023 with a starting price around $160,000.
This story originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Car and Driver as part of our 25 Cars Worth Waiting For package. Our sneak preview of the most exciting cars coming in the next few years draws on knowledge from leaked product-development plans, spy photos, and loose-lipped insiders mixed in with information that has already been officially released. The reporting for this story was completed in February and early March, before the auto industry began feeling major effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As many automakers are now delaying or pausing development programs, the debut and on-sale dates reported here may change.
BMW is working on a follow-up to the plug-in-hybrid i8 halo car, which in and of itself never really lived up to expectations. Previewed by the 2019 BMW Vision M Next concept car, this yet-to-be-named replacement (we’ve taken to calling it the i8 M) should place greater emphasis on performance than its predecessor did. It could also set the Bimmer world on fire with its retro M1-inspired style—it could have rear louvers, people!
Following the i8’s lead, this supercar will have an electrified front axle and combine a turbocharged gas engine with an electric motor on the rear axle. But here you’ll find an inline-four instead of the i8’s inline-three. The battery will enable at least 60 miles of EV driving between charges. Combined output will flirt with 600 ponies, so that should address anyone’s concerns about the i8 M having the motor(s) to back up its M1 looks.
After BMW sold most of its interest in a Washington carbon-fiber plant, reports suggested there would be no more carbon-bodied Bimmers. We’re guessing those reports are wrong. An evolution of the i8’s carbon-fiber tub seems inevitable, as the concept shows off unpainted composite sills and trim. BMW may mix in some structural metal, though.
The increased power and greater emphasis on driving excitement will help the i8 M compete with other hybrid sports cars such as the Acura NSX and Polestar 1, and even nonhybrids such as the Porsche 911 Turbo. BMW could mount low-rolling-resistance rubber on this one, too, as it did with the i8, but we’re pretty confident the company has learned that lesson.
We won’t see a production version until 2023, but you’ll want to start saving now. The i8 M should cost at least $160,000.