2015 BMW i8 construction at Leipzig plantEnlarge Photo
According to the latest report from Automobile, the new supercar will be i8-based but rather than using an i9 badge it will simply be called an i8S. Using the i8 platform makes sense from a financial perspective but we’re not sure if such a vehicle will be distinct enough to stand out among the crowd of new high-end sports cars making their way onto the market, such as the second-generation Audi R8, Acura NSX, Mercedes-AMG GT and potential Maserati Alfieri-based GranSport.
The good news is that the car should be one of the most technologically advanced and best performing cars in the segment. In charge of the project is said to BMW i chief Ulrich Kranz but more importantly former Ferrari chief engineer Roberto Fedeli is thought to be working on the project. Fedeli was in charge of developing another hybrid supercar, the LaFerrari, and was recently hired by BMW.
Previously, it was thought that the new car would ditch the i8 hybrid drivetrain’s three-cylinder engine for one of BMW’s signature straight-sixes. However, the latest report suggests BMW is undecided on whether it should use a straight-six or a four-cylinder. Both options are being evaluated but the end goal is a car with at least 500 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. This output will be made by the engine at the rear axle and an electric motor up front.
The i8’s carbon fiber ‘life module’ and aluminum-intensive ‘drive module’ will remain but with even lighter materials to further save weight while also increasing rigidity. Everything will be upgraded, making the car an almost all-new design. Even the body will receive a number of tweaks to improve aerodynamic efficiency. Don’t be surprised if we see a few active elements.
As mentioned, a debut is expected in 2016 as part of BMW’s centenary celebrations. Other special models are planned, too. These are said to include a hardcore version of the M4, a new fuel cell-powered car based on the 5-Series Grand Tourer, and a replacement for the Z4 based on a platform being developed together with Toyota for its Supra successor.