2020 BMW i8
Is BMW’s modern sports car taking the all-electric route?by Ciprian Florea, on
Launched in 2014, the i8 was on BMW’s drawing boards since the mid-2000s. First unveiled as the Vision Efficient Dynamics in 2009, it was updated to the i8 Concept in 2011, before being showcased as a production-ready prototype in 2013. In 2012, BMW also revealed a Spyder concept car. More than three years have passed since its official debut, and the i8 is already a big hit with hybrid sports car enthusiasts. Despite this, BMW has yet to offer a mid-cycle update like it did with the i3, but it’s planning to launch a drop-top, Spyder version at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, Whether more oomph is on the table for the current i8 is still a mystery, but there’s a lot of buzz about a significantly more powerful next-generation model flying around for quite some time.
Given BMW’s current strategy, a brand-new i8 isn’t likely to arrive sooner than 2020, so information about the upcoming sports car is scant, to say the least. However, there have been claims that the new i8 will go fully electric and the I Vision Dynamics concept that was unveiled in 2017 likely previews the sports car’s new design. I gathered all the information available in the speculative review below, while our designer created a rendering of what the second-generation i8 might look like. Keep reading to find out all the details we have so far and stay tuned for updates on this car.
Continue reading to learn more about the second-generation BMW i8.
2020 BMW i8
Horsepower @ RPM:750
Torque @ RPM:1000
0-60 time:3 sec.
Top Speed:200 mph
While the BMW i8 still looks fresh in 2017, this may not be the case in 2020
Needless to say, the current i8 is one sexy sports car design-wise. The low nose, the wide stance, and the aggressive headlamp and front grille layout make it unique in the current BMW lineup and give it a strong resemblance to the iconic M1. The side cues are equally dramatic, especially the way the line that separates the door from the side skirt goes upward to create the massive rear haunches and then blends into the taillights. The rear fascia also reminds of the BMW M1, but the i8 is more than just a rendition of the classic sports car. It’s feels modern and it’s aggressive. It’s basically a supercar design with lightweight, sports car performance.
But while the i8 still looks fresh in 2017, this may not be the case in 2020. Sports car makers are rolling out increasingly wilder designs, so BMW will have to up the ante and come up with an even more exciting exterior. While there’s no clue as to what the new i8 might look like, I do believe that the I Vision Dynamics concept will be used as inspiration. And needless to say, it’s a fantastic resource for a brand-new sports car.
Our rendering borrows heavily from the I Vision Dynamics concept
Our rendering borrows heavily from the show car. Although it previews a competitor for the Tesla Model S, the I Vision Dynamics employs many styling cues that would look great on an aggressive two-door. Our designer transferred almost the entire front fascia onto the next-gen i8. The twin-kidney grille is obviously taller than any other production BMW and it stands out by missing a conventional mesh grille and for having blue highlights on the chrome trim. I think that the blue trim will become a production feature and that a grille-less twin-kidney is very likely given that the next i8 will be an all-electric car. We also borrowed most of the bumper from the concept car, but revised the openings and the side wings for better aerodynamics. The headlamps are a unique design that blend current BMW LED units with futuristic elements seen on recent concept.
Move to the sides, and you’ll notice that our rendering retains the current i8’s shape and size. However, the angular lines are less aggressive, and the rear haunches are a bit more elegant. I think BMW will go with something similar in an effort to position the new i8 in both the high-performance and luxury market. Look for a redesigned rear end too, but nothing radical. Although the i8 may employ some features from other production BMWs — obviously with a unique touch — it should also come with active aerodynamics, such as a retractable wing and a diffuser that adapts to driving conditions.
- New, exclusive design
- Added luxury features
- Larger infotainment screen
- Redesigned instrument cluster
- Leather and Alcantara upholstery
- Sports seats
Note: current BMW i8 pictured here.
Some new high-end tech should also find its way inside the cabin
It’s really hard to tell what the next-gen i8 has in store for its customers inside the cabin, but it’s safe to say that it will sport a high-tech design with plenty of premium features. The dashboard design will be unique to this car, so don’t expect any of the styling cues seen inside the 3 Series or the X5. Now I’m not saying that the two models are a dull place to spend time in, but the current i8 plays in a far superior league, and this shouldn’t change with the new sports car.
Some new high-end tech should also find its way into the cabin. I’m thinking bigger screens for the infotainment system and instrument cluster and a highly adjustable, sports steering wheel. Gesture control will be standard, alongside a wide range of features that will enable you to control and monitor the vehicle’s electric driverain.
Note: current BMW i8 pictured here.
Expect the new i8 to come with acres of leather and Alcantara in standard trim
As far as materials go, expect the new i8 to come with acres of leather and Alcantara in standard trim. Aluminum and carbon-fiber will cover most of the remaining surfaces, but the latter is likely to be part of an optional, more expensive package. The leather seats should feature heavy bolstering for spirited driving, but if rumors about the drivetrain prove to be true, BMW should offer a more track oriented package with race-inspired, lightweight seats wrapped in Alcantara. Despite the i8 being a full-fledged sports car, it will have many of the amenities found in larger luxury BMWs, including air-conditioning, heating, a premium sound system, and the latest in terms of connectivity and Wi-Fi.
The new i8 should also include a range of cabin features made from renewable materials — to showcase the company’s efforts toward a more sustainable future — as well as some industry-first technologies. But we will find out more about that closer to launch.
- All-electric drivetrain
- Three electric motors
- Around 750 horsepower
- Rear-axle steering
- Active suspension system
Note: Drivetrain of the current BMW i8 pictured here.
While the current i8 gets its juice from a gasoline-electric drivetrain, the next-gen car will use electricity only
This is where it gets very interesting. While the current i8 gets its juice from a gasoline-electric drivetrain, the next-gen car will use electricity only. This rumor has been flying around for more than a year now and, while there’s no official confirmation, it makes sense given that BMW wants to roll out electric cars in the next decade. The change will be quite dramatic.
The German sports features quite a peculiar drivetrain, bringing together a turbocharged, 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and two electric motors. I say "peculiar" because three-cylinder engines are far from common. Granted, the three-pot is no slouch at 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, but it’s not the kind of output that puts "sports" ahead of "car." But thanks to the electric motors strapped to the front and rear axles, total output sits at a more appealing 357 horses and 420 pound-feet.
Each motor will reportedly crank out well in excess of 250 horsepower, with total output to sit at a whopping 750 horses
Granted, those aren’t supercar figures, but at only 3,300 pounds, the i8 is quite agile. Hitting 60 mph from a standing start takes four seconds, while top speed is governed at 155 mph. As our own Mark McNabb pointed out in his driven review, the i8 needs a bit more oomph, and the main reason why I agree is that a sports car of this caliber should be quicker than the BMW M4. And the i8 isn’t. But this will change with the next-generation model.
For the new i8, BMW will drop the gasoline engine and will add a third electronic. Actually, it will add three brand-new electric motors that will draw juice from a significantly larger battery. Each motor will reportedly crank out well in excess of 250 horsepower, with total output to sit at a whopping 750 horses. That’s more than double the oomph you get with the current i8! No word on torque yet, but knowing how much pound-feet electric motors are capable of, it’s safe to assume that the i8 could get closer to 1,000.
The i8 will also get rear-axle steering and an active suspension system
The new drivetrain layout will put two motors on the rear axle and one up front, which will make the i8 all-whee-drive. On top of that, the i8 will also get rear-axle steering, a feature that’s already available in some Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini sports cars. Torque vectoring and a new active suspension system are also on the table. So not only will it be significantly quicker — expect a 0-to-60 sprint of less than three seconds — it will also perform better at the track. New Nurburgring record for electric cars, anyone?
But what about range? Reports say that the new drivetrain and larger battery will enable the i8 to return 300 miles per charge. That would represent a 10-mile drop compared to the current hybrid drivetrain, but it’s a solid figure for a fully electric car. For reference, the current i8 runs for only 15 miles on electricity alone according to the EPA. In Europe, it’s rated at 23 miles.
|Current BMW i8||2020 BMW i8|
|Gasoline Engine||BMW TwinPower Turbo 1.5-Liter Three-Cylinder||-|
|Electric Motor||Hybrid synchronous motor with power||Three electric motors|
|Total Output||362 horsepower||750 HP|
|Total Torque||420 Pound-Feet||1,000 LB-FT|
|Acceleration (0-60 mph)||4.2 Sec., Est||3 seconds|
|Top Speed||155 MPH||200 mph|
|Total Range||310 Miles (372 Miles w/ ECO PRO)||300 miles|
The current i8 is the second most expensive BMW on offer as of 2017. Priced from $143,400, it’s superseded only by the M760i, which costs $156,700 before options. Add the available packages and options to the i8, and the sticker jumps to $152,344. Far from affordable, but the new second-generation sports car will be much more expensive. The new technology, the new platform, and the all-electric drivetrain will add to the final cost of the car, which could move closer to the $200,000 mark.
The electric supercar car market is rather slim as of 2017, but with more and more automakers jumping on the bandwagon, this segment will be far more populated a few years from now. Due to its hybrid nature, the current i8 competes against the Acura NSX, but this will change when the all-electric version arrives. The Nio EP9 looks to be a good proposition, but the Chinese EV is set to be manufactured in limited numbers, and it could be discontinued soon. Same goes for the Rimac Concept_One, but automakers like Mercedes-Benz, Audi (the Germans recently discontinued the R8 e-tron), and Porsche could launch their own competitors for the i8 in a few years.
The EP9 hit the market out of the blue. It’s designed by recently founded Chinese company NextEV, boasts a tremendous amount of power, and lapped the Nurburgring track quicker than any other production car, breaking a record that stood strong since 2009. Design-wide, the Nio EP9 is a full-fledged supercar and looks as if it was designed for the prototype class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Power comes from four separate electric motors, each creating in excess of 300 horsepower. Total output is rated at 1,341, which is far more impressive than the next-generation BMW i8, but it’s worth mentioning that the EP9 is also significantly heavier at 3,825 pounds. The sprint to 60 mph takes 2.7, which is as quick as it gets, but the i8 should come close thanks to its tremendous power-to-weight ratio. The EP9 is also likely to win the top speed battle at 195 mph, but it won’t be able to match the Bimmer’s range at 265 miles per charge. The Chinese EV is also ridiculously expensive, coming in at around $1.2 million before options.
When we drove the BMW i8 back in August 2017, we were impressed by its looks, high-end technology, and solid drivetrain figures. But we also discovered that it was rather uncomfortable getting in and out of the cabin and that it also lacked the luxuries found in the big BMW sedans. But the next-generation model should fix that, as BMW now has all the information it needs to provide a sports car that’s attractive in just about any department. And with a more powerful drivetrain that’s also green and provides a solid range, the i8 should become an even more successful vehicle. Despite having an exorbitant price tag.
Read our full review on the current BMW i8.
Read our full review on the 2017 BMW i Vision Dynamics Concept.
Read our full driven review on the 2017 BMW i8.
Read our full speculative review on the 2018 BMW i8 Spyder.