It was rumored almost a year ago that BMW was working on a quicker version of its i8 hybrid. At the time, a few names were tossed around, including the “i8S” and even an M-badged version. Details on the model have been scarce since the initial report, but now we’ve got a bit more to share.
As for the timeline, BMW is reportedly planning to introduce the higher performance i8 in sync with the German automaker’s centennial — meaning 2016. BMW’s engineers are keen to demonstrate what the i8’s carbon fiber body can do with a bit more power and a little less weight.
To accomplish the task, BMW plans to swap the i8’s 228 horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a more powerful 300 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder. In the current i8, the hybrid drivetrain makes 357 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque, but the ‘i8S’ and its stronger gas engine, paired with the same electric motor, will develop about 450 hp. With nearly 100 more horsepower on tap, the i8S will sprint to 60 mph in less than 4.0 seconds compared to the i8’s 4.4 seconds. Top speed will likely remain electronically limited to 155 mph.
Related: 2015 BMW i8 First Drive
To complement the added power and to counteract the extra heft of a larger gas engine, BMW will also cut weight on the i8S. This will be accomplished with unpainted carbon fiber body panels and a stripped-down two-seater cabin. The results will hold the i8’s curb weight to 3,267 pounds.
BMW’s i8 already occupies an uncluttered vehicle segment as a relatively low-cost hybrid performance car, but new models like a hybridized Porsche 911 are coming, so building a higher performance version ahead of the curve seems like a heads-up move.
To further differentiate the i8S from the normal car, expect it to wear a more aerodynamic body kit, add wider tires and bigger brakes, and offer unique paint colors.
Whether the faster i8 goes by the ‘i8S’ moniker or not, BMW has been very clear that ‘i’ series cars will never wear ‘M’ badges, so M GmbH purists, fear not.