Tuesday, 21 February 2023 05:56

2026 BMW i8 M - First review

BMW i8 M BMW i8 M

Even though the current i8 hasn't lived up to the sporting intentions BMW had for it, that apparently hasn't put the German luxury brand off of high-dollar hybrid sports cars. Development of the next i8—we're a fan of calling it the i8 M, considering it should represent a significant performance improvement over the current model—is underway, and BMW's Vision M Next concept from mid-2019 is proof. A massive increase in power, a longer all-electric driving range, updated styling, and a more capable chassis are all expected to separate the i8 M from the model it will ultimately replace.

What's New for 2026?

The i8 M—or whatever BMW decides to call its next-generation hybrid sports car—will be all-new for the 2026 model year. We expect to find out more as we get closer to the car's on-sale date, which is predicted to be sometime in 2025 as a 2026 model.

Without knowing how the i8 M will be equipped or what options may be available, it's hard to recommend a particular model. We expect the i8 M to be offered in both a fixed-roof coupe body style as well as a ragtop roadster, similar to the previous generation model's lineup.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The i8 M's plug-in hybrid powertrain is anticipated to follow the same basic setup as the current i8, which means an electric motor driving the front wheels and a mid-mounted gasoline engine and electric motor for the rear wheels. In lieu of the i8's turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder gas engine, BMW has said the new car will offer a turbocharged four-cylinder; the company also claims a total system output—gas and electric power combined—of 591 horsepower, which is far more than the i8's 369-hp output. This up-rated powertrain will help the i8 M compete with rivals such as the Lexus LC500h and the new Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray.

Range, Charging, and Battery Life

The previous generation i8's 18-mile electric driving range was unimpressive to say the least. BMW has been mum on details such as battery size but said the electric driving range for the Vision M Next concept was a claimed 62 miles. That means either BMW's engineers found a way to squeeze a lot more miles out of the current car's 11.6-kWh battery pack or they found space for a much larger unit. It's almost certainly the latter. More information will be available regarding the i8 M's battery, range, and charging capability closer to the car's on-sale date.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The EPA has not tested the i8 M or released estimates for its fuel consumption—which is not surprising since the car doesn't exist yet. In addition to improving the electric driving range, we're expecting the i8 M to offer slightly better fuel economy ratings than the current i8, despite an anticipated improvement in acceleration and driving performance. For more information about the i8 M's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

Little is known about the i8 M's cabin so far, but we are hoping BMW addresses the i8's difficult ingress and egress by equipping the new car with front-hinged doors and a lower side sill to make the interior more easily accessible. Like the previous car, the i8 M will be BMW's playground for future styling and should feature unique materials, cutting-edge features, and eye-popping designs. Storage and cargo capacity will likely remain limited, but a front trunk (or "frunk") may make an appearance to provide additional luggage space.

Infotainment and Connectivity

A lot can change in the world of in-car infotainment between now and 2026, so details about what might be offered in the i8 M are anyone's guess. In the Vision M Next concept, BMW showed off a futuristic take on infotainment that the company calls the Boost Pod; it consists of several glass screens and a head-up display to provide the driver access to car-related information and onboard entertainment features.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Considering the i8 M is still a few years off, it's possible more advanced driver-assistance features will be featured, including perhaps a true autonomous driving system. Time will tell. Key safety features are likely to include:

Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

BMW's warranty coverage could change between now and 2024, but if everything holds steady in this area, expect the same warranty package that's available on today's lineup. A dedicated hybrid-components warranty is all but a certainty, and we're hoping BMW continues to offer a three-year complimentary maintenance plan for all new models.

Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
Hybrid components are covered for 8 years or 100,000 miles
Complimentary maintenance is covered for 3 years or 36,000 miles


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