i8 S ruled out for PHEV performance fans

BMW’s flagship plug-in hybrid i8 looks set to continue with just one powertrain variant, although a next-generation model could raise the bar again in terms of performance, according to the brand’s executive team.

At the launch of the new i8 Roadster in Mallorca, Marcus Pluntke, product manager for the i8 Roadster and Coupe revealed to CarAdvice customers, somewhat surprisingly, haven’t been requesting an even-more performance-skewed version of the car.

When asked about the potential for an even-faster i8 in the vein of BMW’s i3 S city car, which adds power and torque for increased performance along with suspension and stability control changes to enhance driver engagement, Pluntke was quick to pour cold water on the idea.

“Quite the opposite,” Pluntke said when asked about customer requests for a more focussed version of the i8.

“Customers are very happy with the performance it has. Especially as it is so quick, you know the electric motor’s response is like immediately, like reading your mind, and that is what customers really ask for in a sports car.”

“They don’t say ‘ooh, I need more power’ quite the opposite they say ‘It’s so fast on public roads. I can’t believe how quick it reacts and how quick it is’”.

At the same time, Pluntke also ruled out the possibility of a more accessible i8 for buyers that want the car’s bold aesthetics, but aren’t after peak performance.

“If you do a proper sports car – especially a BMW – will always have a proper sports car performance and with the i8 I think it does have that, we will keep it this way,” he said.

That’s not to say that outputs beyond the current model's 275kW combined petrol and electric systems aren’t possible, however without a higher-performance variant or confirmation of a next-generation model it's hard to see how BMW will utilise that potential.

Already BMW has used the updated i8 to introduce a slightly more powerful electric system, including a higher capacity, higher output battery and a more powerful electric motor, rated at 105kW, up by 9kW from its predecessor. The updated i8's 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol motor output is unchanged at 170kW.