BMW is set to give the i8 more power, an extended range, various chassis tweaks, an inductive charging option and a series of new lightweight components. The changes are part of a comprehensive midlife facelift for the high-tech 2+2, which first went on sale in the UK in 2014.
The facelifted i8 is due to reach showrooms in the final quarter of next year. It’s set to adopt an upgraded petrolelectric powertrain currently being tested in a fleet of roadgoing prototypes as well as the latest iteration of the i8-based safety car seen at Formula E events around the globe.
Details remain scarce, although high-level engineers at BMW’s research and development facilities in Munich say the revised hybrid powertrain will have a more powerful electric motor than the 129bhp unit used by the existing i8.
In combination with a lightly fettled 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, the frontmounted synchronous electric motor is claimed to provide the facelifted i8 with more than a 10% boost in power over today’s model, lifting the futuristically styled coupé’s output to around 420bhp.
Together with new software mapping for the i8’s sixspeed automatic gearbox, the boosted output is claimed to improve the performance of the BMW i brand’s rangetopping coupé, which currently has a 0-62mph time of 4.4sec and limited 155mph top speed.
At the same time, BMW is working to extend the overall range of the i8 through the adoption of a revised battery pack. With improved energy density properties — the same is being touted for the battery in the facelifted i3 that will make its debut at the Paris motor show in September — it is said to bring an incremental increase in pure-electric and hybrid ranges.
Secrecy surrounds the capacity of the new battery. However, BMW has confirmed that the Formula E safety car eschews the 7.1kWh unit of the production car for a larger, 10.0kWh battery, possibly hinting at what’s to come for the facelifted version. As on today’s i8, it will be mounted down the centre line inside a carbonfibre tunnel.
Drawing on further developments used by the Formula E safety car, the facelifted i8 is also in line to receive a number of chassis modifications. Nothing has been confirmed, but the two i8 safety cars at Formula E events have modified upper wishbones and mounting points, together with revised spring and dampers, a 15mm lower ride height than the production car and 20in alloy wheels shod with 245/35 front and 285/30 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
An inductive charging system is also being tested and is expected to be offered as an option on the next iteration of the i8. Drawing on wireless charging technology developed by Qualcomm, it uses resonant magnetic induction to transfer energy between a ground-based pad connected to the highvoltage electrical system and a collector fitted to the underside of the BMW.
Further possible updates being pursued by BMW for the facelifted i8 are carbonfibre wheels. Already showcased by the German car maker, the lightweight wheels use a carbonfibre rim and aluminium spokes in a move that is claimed to reduce weight by up to 25% over the aluminium wheels used today.
The launch of the facelifted i8 coupé is likely to coincide with the introduction of the long-mooted i8 roadster, which BMW chairman Harald Krüger recently confirmed as the next new model from the company’s i brand.