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Could The BMW i8 Be Transformed Into The New M1?

Could BMW i8 Be The New Supercar?

When the BMW i8 was unveiled at the 2009 International Motor Show in Germany, many thought we would finally see a next generation M1 and in some ways we did. The i8 is a beautiful mid-engine sports car designed to be BMW’s next stage in the creation of ‘the ultimate driving machine’. But with the future comes future problems; pressure to lower carbon emissions and save the planet resulted in the i8 being a hybrid. The i8 comes with a 1.5 litre turbocharged 3 cylinder engine teamed with a 7.1 kWh lithium ion battery. In other words not what people wanted.

The BMW M1 was ahead of its time when it launched in 1978. Its simple yet beautiful design led it to be one of the most revered cars that never saw a successor. The M1 was the first mid-engine BMW road car ever, and was one of the first super cars designed for everyday use. The M1’s spirit lived on in its 3.5 litre straight six engine, which was used in the first generation M5, and the M635CSI.

Is BMW i8 The Sports Car Of The Future?

Despite the hybrid engine,  the i8 still has potential. Given the right engine, that streamlined body could become the M1 follow-up we all wanted. More importantly, it allows BMW to compete with the Porsche 911 and the Audi R8. A German company named Gabura Racing Technologies is currently working on a V8 engined i8 they are calling the GRT V8i. The GRT team are using the 4.4 litre twin turbo V8 from the M6 tuned to a rumoured 800BHP. However, the GRT V8i is going to be front-engined, so all that weight at the front could not only spoil the great handling of the i8 but also force them to change the ride height and styling too.

We Want Audi And Porsche Running Scared, Give It A V8

What we need for a true 21st century M1 is for it to be a BMW in-house project. Firstly, the i8 would need a V8 engine for it to compete with its much faster German rivals. If you still want to keep the hybrid idea, then use a twin turbo V6 with the batteries. The McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 have proved that it can be an awesome combination when used for power rather than economy. Secondly, the engine needs to be mid-mounted. This improves the weight distribution over a front-engine model and reduces the need for BMW to change the styling as the i8 already includes a mid-mounted hybrid engine.

The BMW M1 is a Legend

It’s unlikely any of this will ever happen. The i8 is already successful and BMW don’t want to jinx it by introducing a faster, more powerful model. Will we ever see another BMW M1? It’s difficult to say: the M1 is such an icon of late 70s to early 80s motoring. It’s exclusive because we never saw a follow-up. Cars like the Corvette saw numerous interpretations: each one a little fatter and a little slower than the last, whereas the M1 has remained a legend of its time.

If you want a new BMW M1, please let us know in the comments.

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