The BMW i8 is a vision of what may save the performance car world. It was built to prove that sports cars could still exist and be enjoyable once legislation forced them to be as frugal as the Prius.
Fortunately, however, we’re not quite at the stage of having to drive cars fuelled by a desire to be as fuel-efficient as possible. We can still get away with a big bent-eight in our sports cars. Which is why we’re proposing the BMW M8 – a supercar to rival the new Audi R8 and Honda NSX.
It would use the same lightweight carbonfibre tub and electric motors as the environmentally-friendly i8, but with the internal combustion engine from the X5M. To avoid redesigning the i8’s entire rear subframe to squeeze in the twin-turbo V8, we’d remove the turbos and their bulky intercoolers to save space, then up the newly-naturally aspirated motor’s compression ratio.
Its skinny low-rolling resistance tyres would swap out for bigger, stickier ones and the suspension would receive an M tune.
BMW will celebrate 100 years in the business next year, and a wild V8-powered hybrid supercar based on the i8 would be one hell of a way to celebrate.
Carbonfibre will feature heavily on the M8’s body. You will find the weave on the front bumper, door mirrors, side skirts, bonnet vent, rear diffuser and roof. Just don’t have a crash, as the repair bill will be eye-watering.
The M8 retains the i8’s front two-speed electric motor, effectively giving the supercar all-wheel drive. Meanwhile, the rear electric motor can act as a low-end torque boost, as well as charging the batteries.
The i8’s futuristic interior design is carried over to the M hot rod, but the special eco-friendly wood trim is swapped for carbonfibre. Comfort-based seats are also ditched for the body-hugging buckets you get in the new M3/M4.
Because the X5M’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 won’t fit in the puny 1.5-litre three-cylinder’s hole, we’re dropping its turbos to save space. Compression is increased to give the atmo V8 350kW/450Nm.
The M8 uses a McLaren P1-style active rear wing with air-braking, which works in conjunction with a sharp carbonfibre front splitter. Active aerodynamic flaps under the body also deploy to aid stability at high speed.
SLOW AND SERIOUS
Brakes are carbon-ceramic items derived from the ones fitted to the new M3/M4 models. And a set of fat Michelin Pilot Cup 2s give the M8’s beefed-up chassis the grip it deserves.