Coming to a dealership near you in 2017

Having already unveiled an updated i3 for the 2017 model year, BMW is reportedly working on an improved version of its performance-oriented hybrid, the i8. That’s the word from Autocar, which claims that a more powerful i8 with an extended range is set to hit the market by the end of next year. Details are scarce and BMW has yet to confirm such a model is underway, but the British outlet says that BMW is already testing road-going prototypes, while some features are being used in the i8-based Formula E safety car.

While the update might not bring significant changes inside and out, the drivetrain is rumored to gain a ten-percent boost over the current model. The extra oomph will come from a more powerful electric motor, but the 1.5-liter three-cylinder could also get a few additional ponies. The upcoming i8 is expected to boast a total output of around 395 horsepower versus the current 357-horsepower rating. Together with the revised six-speed automatic gearbox, the added oomph should enable the i8 to hit 60 mph from a standing start in around 4.2 seconds compared to the current 4.4-second benchmark. Top speed will most likely remain unchanged at 155 mph.

Autocar goes on to say that the current 7.1kWh battery will be replaced by the larger, 10kWh unit that BMW fitted in the Formula E safety car. This will take the i8’s mileage beyond the current 372-mile rating in hybrid mode and 22-mile on electricity alone. Further changes will reportedly include an inductive charging system as an option, chassis tweaks for improved performance, and maybe carbon-fiber wheels. The i8 is likely to be launched alongside the long-anticipated i8 roadster, which was recently confirmed by BMW chairman Harald Kruger.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

Unveiled in late 2013 and launched in 2014, the BMW i8 has been a big hit in its first two years on the market, selling nearly 7,200 units. That might not sound like a lot when compared to a mainstream car such as the Toyota Corolla, but it’s an impressive figure for a sports car that costs in excess of $130,000. In 2015, global sales of the BMW i8 exceeded the combined figure of all other hybrid sports cars produced by other manufacturers. With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that BMW wants the i8 to remain attractive until a next-generation model is prepared, and a facelift for 2017 makes a lot of sense.

The current i8 is already an impressive machine in terms of performance and range, but the hybrid and electric car markets are evolving at a rapid pace and an update will help maintain the German sports car at the top of its segment. And, with BMW having already tested new technology in its Formula E pace car on various tracks around the world, the results should be impressive to say the least. A 400-mile range would be a great achievement for BMW and a first step toward the development of new i cars that are more practical and offer seating for more passengers.

BMW i8

2015 BMW i8 High Resolution Exterior
- image 522685

Read our full review on the BMW i8 here.

Source: AutoCar

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