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Before the BMW i8 was a hybrid, it was a V10 … and a V8 … and a 6-cylinder

before the bmw i8 was a hybrid it v10 and v8 6 cylinder backend
Imagine how amazing a raw, V10-powered BMW 8 Series supercar would have sounded...oh well... Image used with permission by copyright holder

When the BMW i8 official debuted, I was a bit surprised by, well, its lack of power. Carefully sculpted from carbon fiber and aluminum, the i8 has the looks and price tag of a much more powerful car.

Turns out, my feelings were on the money, as BMW had toyed with three other powerplants for the i8, including a V10, V8 and a six-cylinder.

According to Telegraaf, the BMW i designers originally conceived of the i8 as a V10 supercar but quickly scrapped that idea, replacing it with a V8. After testing of that drivetrain proved less than pleasing, Bimmer went for one of its classic sixes.

Paired with a hybrid powertrain, the six worked – for a while. Ultimately, though, BMW sent that engine back to the parts bin when engineers couldn’t overcome heat management and weight issues. Really? Not even the exacting Germans could sort it? That’s troubling.

Eventually the dour Deutschers settled on a 1.5-liter three-cylinder that produces 231 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Mated with the plug-in hybrid powertrain, the i8 pushes 362 hp and 236 lb-ft – enough to get to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Although I am pleased Bimmer went for electrification, I still would have rather seen a V10- or V8-powered 8 supercar to rival the Audi R8. I know Bimmer’s brass feels the V10 supercar market is a bit oversaturated. And I understand that. I just wonder it they say that because they couldn’t get theirs to not catch on fire.

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Nick Jaynes
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nick Jaynes is the Automotive Editor for Digital Trends. He developed a passion for writing about cars working his way…
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