BMW’s plans to unleash a new mid-engined supercar are firming up. Previously known as M1, the 600bhp supercar is now called M8 internally, and is being lined up as the flagship car to mark BMW’s 100th birthday in 2016.
M division boss Friedrich Nitschke has proposed that the M8 shares the exotic carbonfibre and aluminium underpinnings of the i8 plug-in hybrid due in 2014. The i8 has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine mounted amidships to drive the rear wheels, supplemented by an electric motor turning the front axle. The combined output is 349bhp and 405lb ft of torque, sufficient to power the i8 from zero to 62mph in 4.6sec.
For the M8, however, the three-cylinder would be replaced by a twin-turbocharged V8, producing around 600bhp. That would slash the 0-62mph sprint time to around 3.0sec, and give the M8 a 200mph v-max – assuming BMW does the decent thing and derestricts its supercar. The M8 could end up being considerably lighter than mid-engined V8 rivals like the 1485kg Ferrari 458 and 1560kg Audi R8. The i8 donor car weighs 1480kg, and that’s with a 200kg penalty due to the batteries and motor.
Nitschke’s plan is compelling, and not just because of the performance figures. The approach would give BMW another revenue stream from the i8 components set, welcome news given plug-in hybrids’ slow start in the market. Now he has to convince BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer, not a natural sports car aficionado, whose dream sports car is i8 – not M8.
If the M8 does get the green light, it will be BMW’s first M8 to hit the market. Although one prototype version of the 1990s 8-series was converted into an M8 with a V12 and carbonfibre-spoked 17-inch rims, the project was mothballed. The V12 was said to kick out 580bhp – not far off the 2016 M8’s proposed output.