It’s been less than a year since BMW began delivering its high performance i8 plug-in hybrid to U.S. dealers, yet recent reports indicate the German carmaker is already developing a more powerful new version.
Adding speed and horsepower are two goals for the next i8, according to AutoExpress. Citing un-named “insiders,” the website reported that BMW’s engineers believe the car is capable of supporting 300 more horsepower over the car’s current output of 357 horsepower. That said, it’s likely the improvements won’t be quite so extreme.
But while this is an electrified car, BMW may resort primarily to conventional technology – giving it a stronger gas engine – as it seeks a sub four-second 0-60 time in a world where Tesla’s P85D does it in 3.2 or quicker with no gas at all.
To boost power in the i8, sources said engineers will replace the model’s current turbocharged three-cylinder 228 horsepower engine with a four-cylinder. BMW is thought to be testing a 2.0-liter turbo engine with a power output surpassing 300 horsepower, which may be in line to become the i8’s next engine.
For now, AutoExpress reports that BMW will be increasing only the gas engine, carrying forward with the 2015 model’s 129 horsepower electric motor. If the new configuration pairs this motor with the new four-cylinder engine, AutoExpress estimated that the next generation of this plug-in hybrid could have a combined output of 450 horsepower.
Lightweighting and other modifications – for the already very light car – could boost performance even higher.
Fuel economy numbers probably won’t see an improvement, especially with engineers rumored to be tuning the i8 to reach 60 mph quicker than the current model’s manufacturer-listed sprint time of 4.2 seconds.
Setting the i8 in eco mode, which uses both the gas engine and electric motor, gets the coupe its EPA-rated 76 miles per gallon equivalent. However, the 7.1-kilowatt lithium-ion battery has a very limited range (only 15 miles in electric-only mode). In most situations, an average of 28 mpg is more realistic.
BMW representatives have been silent so far about plans for the next i8, and are probably focused instead on finding a place on the mantle for the i8’s growing stack of awards.