AC Schnitzer shows uncharacteristic restraint in tuning the BMW i8

One of the best things about owning a car is being able to modify it to go faster or look cooler.

Greener electric cars and plug-in hybrids are slowly getting in on the action, even though most of what people typically do to modify cars can compromise their main mission — efficiency.

Maybe that’s why noted BMW tuned AC Schnitzer kept the changes to a minimum in its first attempt to improve the carmaker’s i8 plug-in hybrid.

A body kit now available for the futuristic coupe includes a front spoiler, side skirts, and rear wing all made from carbon fiber. A lot of the i8’s contrasting blue exterior trim also seems to have been deleted.

The car is also lowered 25 mm in front and 20 mm in the rear, which should give it a little bit of rake. It rides on 21 ACI forged-alloy wheels that AC Schnitzer claims are 30 percent lighter than the standard wheels. That’s a remarkable claim, as the stock wheels are pretty light to begin with.

It would be interesting to know what kind of  tires AC Schnitzer fitted to the i8, particularly if they’re wider than stock. Following the same philosophy it used with the i3, BMW fits the i8 with fairly narrow tires at the factory.

That helps decrease the car’s frontal area and improve aerodynamics, but the resulting smaller contact patch isn’t exactly ideal when it comes to handling. And while that would be fine on a small city car like the i3, it’s not optimal for a sports car.

Other than aluminum pedals and velour floor mats, the interior is left in stock condition.

AC Schnitzer also apparently left the i8’s plug-in hybrid powertrain untouched.  That powertrain consists of a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which put out a combined 357 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.

That’s enough to get the stock i8 from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and on to a top speed of 155 mph.

Both are pretty impressive figures, but tuners have found room for improvement with many other performance cars in the past, so why not the i8 too? Maybe that should be AC Schnitzer’s next goal, although fuel economy will probably suffer in the process.

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