BMW designed a radical mid-engined hybrid supercar to succeed the i8 – but never put it into production.
Kept secret for four years but now revealed by BMW head designer Domagoj Dukec on social media, the striking i16 could have been the M performance division’s second bespoke model after the 1978 M1 supercar.
As it was, said Dukec, “the world changed in 2020” at the onset of the Covid pandemic and “work on the project unfortunately had to be stopped”.
M division has since introduced the XM super-SUV as its second bespoke product – a dramatically different proposition to the supercar revealed here.
It’s a faithful evolution of the Vision M Next concept that BMW revealed in 2019, albeit with some subtle revisions aimed at making it road-legal.
Dukec described the i16 as having “all the style of a future classic” and noted the influence of the Giorgetto Guigiaro-designed M1 in its angular, cab-forward silhouette, vented rear arches and louvred engine lid.
The i16 was conceived to use the i8’s composite structure, no doubt in a bid to cut development costs and thus bolster its viability as a production car, but it isn’t clear whether it would have used the same plug-hybrid powertrain.
The i8 was BMW’s first PHEV, pairing a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an electric motor on the front axle for a total output of 356bhp and a 0-62mph time of 4.3sec – making it a natural rival to the Porsche 911.
A battery in the transmission tunnel gave an electric-only range of more than 30 miles in later cars.
The i8 was produced from 2014 to 2020, being discontinued to make way for a new line of bespoke electric BMW models including the iX3, i4 and iX.
The Vision M Next hinted at what an i8 successor could look like, but plans to produce it were shelved over concerns about high R&D costs and low sales potential.
However, M boss Frank van Meel hinted to Autocar in 2022 that the door wasn’t totally shut to the prospect of a new hybrid supercar, saying: “It’s always something we can look at. As car guys, we’re always dreaming of making such cars. It doesn’t mean we will make them, but we keep exploring those ideas.”
He said the cancellation of the i16 didn’t mean BMW was “not thinking of a super-sports car,” tellingly adding that he was “always trying to figure out how it would work.