Alpina finally explains why it didn’t build its own version of the BMW i8

Whenever BMW unveils a cool model, Alpina usually modifies it into something even more exciting. Unfortunately, the i8 hybrid sports car was an exception from this rule.

Alpina did develop a beefed-up i8, as revealed back in 2019, but the performance hybrid never made into production. Alpina initially said that BMW didn’t agree for the project to go on, but the tuning company is now back to explain why the souped-up i8 remained just a prototype. As it turns out, turning it into a production model would have been too complicated and expensive.

The Alpina i8 would have been radically different

The Alpina BMW i8 Didn't Happen Because of Limitations in the i8's Design Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Like most Alpina models out there, the i8 would have looked very similar to the standard BMW i8. However, things would have been radically different under the hood. That’s because Alpina wanted to get rid of the stock 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. Instead, the tuning company went with a larger, 2.0-liter four-cylinder from the M135i hatchback.

With this mill paired to the synchronous electric motor, the Alpina i8 was rated at 455 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, a solid 86-horsepower and 96-pound-foot increase over the regular i8.
The Alpina BMW i8 Didn't Happen Because of Limitations in the i8's Design Exterior
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As impressive as it sounds, this power increase is exactly what prompted Alpina to drop the project. The bigger gasoline engine needed more cooling, so Alpina had to fit two additional intercoolers in the front fenders. The company also discovered that the i8’s six-speed automatic transmission couldn’t handle the extra power. It replaced it with the eight-speed auto from the BMW M135i, but the new gearbox required a new, stronger rear subframe. All these changes made the i8 some 220 pounds heavier and required Alpina to crash-test the car.

Then there was the software calibration issue. With a new engine and a new transmission under the shell, all the software had to be recalibrated to work with the four-cylinder and eight-speed. Not only this is time consuming, but it’s also very expensive. According to Alpina boss Andreas Bovensiepen, this was the final nail in the i8 coffin, as the German firm decided to abandon the project.

The Alpina i8 would have been the brand’s first hybrid car

The Alpina BMW i8 Didn't Happen Because of Limitations in the i8's Design Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The BMW i8 was discontinued in June 2020 after a little more than six years in production. By dropping the i8 project, Alpina missed on offering its first hybrid or electrified vehicle. BMW isn’t planning on developing a predecessor, but it will expand its hybrid offerings in the future, so Alpina could eventually join this niche.

Alpina has been around since 1965. The brand’s early days revolved around modifying BMW engines for racing, but it morphed into an automobile manufacturer in the 1980s. Over the years, Alpina has modified various versions of the BMW 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, and 8 Series, but it also built a limited-edition variant of the Z8 roadster.

Alpina models are now sold at BMW dealerships, with the U.S. lineup including the B7 and the XB7, based on the 7 Series and X7, respectively.

Source: BMW Blog

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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