The New BMW Supercar i16

A look behind the curtain can be as interesting as it is heartbreaking. Today’s certainly is, as we get a rare glimpse at a stillborn BMW project. This, the most upsetting of all, is a supercar dubbed in its opening stages, the i16. Sketches and renderings of the car were shared on social media by Domagoj Dukec, BMW’s head of design, with a brief explanation of what the car was intended to be.

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He explains in the caption that the i16 was developed as a successor to the i8 (i16 is i8 2, get it?) and was a natural progression from the Vision M Next concept car of 2019 using the i8’s existing carbon underpinnings.

Why didn’t it happen, then? Well, as Dukec explains, “while we pushed, the world changed in 2020. And so, work on the project unfortunately had to be stopped”. So there you have it. In a roundabout way, the BMW supercar we’ve been craving for three decades since the old M1 went off sale fell victim to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The car as we see it here definitely shares some proportions with the i8, albeit with some very deliberately Giugiaro-esque harder edges contouring this glorious wedge. Up front, we see a bit of what has now appeared on the new M2 in its front lights. At the back, those minimalist horizontal rear lights are very iX, while the haunches are pure original M1.

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Of course, those and the BMW badges sat on them eventually made their way onto the rather challenging XM. Yes, the car that rather confusingly, became BMW M’s second bespoke product after the original M1 instead of this wonderful thing. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, BMW M really deserves its ‘R8’ moment and this is as close as we’ve come to it.

What would have powered the i16, or whatever it became? Well, being i8-based and being a successor to that car, and given the era of electrification we’re in, we can speculate that this car would have been hybridised. To appearances however we expect it would also be a bit more of an on-the-nose performance car than BMW’s curious mid-engined hypermiler.

Certainly, those don’t look like the same skinny wheels and tyres the i8 came with and the whole aesthetic is definitely more aggressive and more traditional supercar. Those big gaping shoulder vents suggest something meatier than the i8’s Mini engine is sat behind the passenger cell.

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So is there a chance of this car or a car of its type making its way to BMW showrooms yet? Perhaps not this, though Dukec leaves the door open to the idea, suggesting it’s always something impassioned engineers and designers at BMW want to do:

“That’s how life goes sometimes. As designers, we are familiar with the many twists and turns of such projects. Nevertheless, we’ll never stop dreaming and exploring new possibilities, and there’s always a new project waiting around the corner…”

Report by Ethan Jupp

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