BMW

BMW reveals secret cancelled i16 supercar

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These illustrations show secret plans for a new BMW supercar based on the bones of the plug-in hybrid i8 – but the pandemic in 2020 meant it wasn’t to be.


German car giant BMW has revealed the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to axe plans for a successor to the i8 hybrid supercar – with design cues from the iconic M1 two-door of the 1970s.

The i16 – as it was known in the planning stages – was an evolution of the Vision M Next concept car unveiled in 2019, and was intended to use the underpinnings of the plug-in hybrid i8 to save time and money.

These design illustrations – and confirmation of the car’s existence – were posted to Instagram by current BMW design boss Domagoj Dukec, who was “involved … personally” in the i16 project.

“The I16 had all the style of a future classic, but there were still novel touches that moved the design forward from the M1,” said Mr Dukec on Instagram.

“Within less than 12 months the car was ready – inside and out. The key was to use the composite structure of the BMW i8 … While we pushed, the world changed in 2020. And so, work on the project unfortunately had to be stopped.”

While it wears new, retro-inspired body panels, the proportions of the i16 are similar to the i8, as are the size of the windows, positioning of the windscreen pillars, and other key elements defined in the car industry as “hard points” of a vehicle architecture.

It remains to be seen if the i16 would have used the i8’s combination of a 170kW/320Nm 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol engine driving the rear wheels, a 96kW electric motor powering the front wheels, and a plug-in 7.1kWh battery (or 11.2kWh from 2018).

The Vision M Next concept used a turbo four-cylinder engine in an all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid system capable of 441kW combined, and a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 3.0 seconds – 1.4sec quicker than the i8.

It’s unclear if the i8 chassis could even accommodate a four-cylinder engine.

Alpina – a famed BMW tuning firm now owned by the German car giant – was developing an i8 with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder from the BMW M135i hot hatch, developing 340kW with its hybrid system added.

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However it required a new rear subframe chassis to accommodate the engine – as well as a stronger gearbox, increased cooling and larger tyres – and the project was ultimately axed due to the cost of crash-testing and calibrating the drivetrain in the more powerful model.

Until early 2019 – as these illustrations were being created – Mr Dukec the head of design for the ‘BMW i’ electric and hybrid division, and ‘BMW M’ performance cars.

Reports – based on information from BMW insider sources – after the Vision M Next’s reveal got much of what has now been confirmed about the i8 replacement correct.

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Vision M Next concept.

A report from US outlet Automobile – written by well-connected European journalist Georg Kacher – in 2019 said the i8 successor, then a secret project, was due in 2022 on an updated version of the i8’s underpinnings.

Automobile reported the supercar – which it said would be known as the i12 – was being developed by BMW M, and would combine a 250kW 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder with a 150kW electric motor, combined with “thoroughly revised” suspension.

The first media reports detailing the cancellation of the i8 replacement surfaced out of Germany in April 2020, in line with what Mr Dukec confirmed on social media.

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Vision M Next concept.

Production of the BMW i8 ended in 2020 after its introduction in 2014, as a flag-bearer for the new ‘BMW i’ range of electric and – at that time – plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The i8 and BMW i3 electric city cars launched at a similar time using bespoke carbon-fibre underpinnings, and wore styling unlike any other BMW model.

Only 165 examples of the BMW i8 were sold over its run – each priced in excess of $300,000 plus on-road costs.

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex MisoyannisLinkIcon

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