Revealed: Why the Alpina i8 never made it to production

Sadly, Alpina never managed to make a 'hot' i8 - here's why

8w ago

Alpina is known for taking already-fantastic BMWs, and - to quote the inimitable Spinal Tap - turning them up to 11.

Unfortunately, they never quite got there with the futuristic BMW i8. Boss Andreas Bovensiepen confirmed that the skunkworks did in fact want to have a crack at an i8, even getting as far as building a functioning prototype, but sadly it never progressed beyond that point.

Surprisingly, it wasn't the outright cost that killed the project, nor was it the fact that the performance tweaks would've likely reduced the i8's impressive economy claims - in fact, it was just simply too difficult to execute.

According to Andreas himself, it was the powertrain of the i8 in particular that caused some issues. Upgrading the complicated stock i8 powertrain to a 350hp turbocharged four-cylinder and 8-speed automatic transmission proved simply too complicated to achieve, thanks to the i8's incredibly complex engineering and structure.

The engine swap would've necessitated a bespoke Aluminium rear subframe to be made, which, along with the upgraded cooling, also meant the cost of the project was significant.

The prototype Alpina i8 also attempted to dial-out some of the production i8's tendency for understeering, which necessitated the use of wider front tires and increased camber, resulting in the need for wider fender flares to accommodate the extra width.

It's a shame that Alpina's version never did make it to production, as it would've likely been a cracker. With 455hp, 516 lb/ft of torque and increased presence, it would've been an awesome thing to behold. Sadly, it was confined to the automotive history books, but at least we now know exactly why.

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Comments (8)

  • Tuning the ICE to the max defeats the point of the hybrid in the first place.

    Better buying a normal Alpina.

      1 month ago
    • Kinda depends, it would still be cleaner than a pure ICE that's been tuned even if only because it had a "normal mode" with reduced power for motorway driving and electric only mode to use in city driving

        1 month ago
  • Yeah this is one of many problems with electric cars and hybrids not easy to upgrade also no fun to upgrade

      1 month ago
  • that's a big oof

      1 month ago
  • 350hp I4? Didn't the stock i8 have a 360hp I3? There's no way an Alpina could have less horsepower than a stock BMW version.

      1 month ago
  • I so wanted one of these. And they are now almost bargain basement 2nd hand. Even without the Alpina treatment, it's fast enough.

      1 month ago