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BMW M Engineers Not Going to Touch the Hybrid BMW i8, But Why Not?

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BMW i8, Not Sporty Enough for BMW Motorsports?
BMW i8, Not Sporty Enough for BMW Motorsports?

Take one look at the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, and you’d swear that BMW M engineers either: A… had a hand in its design or, B… can’t wait to get their hands on it.

Strangely enough, given its performance characteristics, BMW M [for Motorsport] engineers had nothing to do with the development of the BMW i8. According to Cypselus von Frankenberg, BMW Group’s head of technology communications, it’s going to stay that way, saying, “I don’t think it’s necessary. You look at the car [i8], it’s an i version. You look at the LifeDrive architecture of the car, it wouldn’t make sense to bring M to that.”

Interestingly, given the the BMW i8 is, indeed, a sports car, albeit a plug-in hybrid electric sports car, head of BMW M product development, Carsten Pries, doesn’t seem to think that the i8 can, or will, compete with the M lineup. Frankenberg, on the other hand, suggests that the i8, if it sells well enough, may very well compete with BMW M for clients’ money.

With BMW i8 initial specifications at sports car status, 362hp/420lb•ft and a zero-to-sixty time of 4.4s, I can’t imagine why BMW would want to keep BMW M engineers out from under the hood. For example, the BMW M4 coupe concept is rated at 450hp/480lb•ft and is expected to hit zero-to-sixty at 4.5s. BMW says the “i” and M lines have different identities and want to keep it that way, but I think they’re missing out on a great opportunity.

The BMW i8 could top the best current BMW M series with a simple motor swap and some software tweaks. Will BMW M lovers make the switch to the 94mpg BMW i8, or would they rather have a BMW Mi8 for blistering performance and fuel economy? I think BMW should rethink the wall separating the i8 from the M team.

Image © BMW

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