When the new BMW X8 comes to market, likely sometime during the 2023 model year, expect to see it paired, as is typically the case with the Bavarian automaker, with a high-performance variant. And, if reports out of Europe are to be believed, the planned X8 M will be the first BMW M model to rely on a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
We’ve begun seeing a rapid shift in focus in battery-car technology, moving away from the days when the focus was on fuel efficiency at all cost. These days, the emphasis is increasingly moving to performance, or at least a balance of range, mileage and performance, automakers taking advantage of the incredible torque that electric motors can offer.
If a report in Britain’s Car magazine is to be believed, the BMW X8 M will have plenty of muscle, making 750 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque out of its gas-electric driveline, while also being able to operate in pure electric mode.
Particularly among luxury brands, BMW was an early pioneer in the battery-car space with products like the quirky little i3 BEV and the i8 PHEV. Today, its line-up offers an assortment of different hybrids and we’ll see several more all-electric models come to market over the next two years, including the iNext.
BMW’s strategy has shifted somewhat and most of its future platforms will offer extensive flexibility, allowing it to offer a broad range of different powertrain options, from pure gas and diesel to all-electric and various battery-based options in-between.
As the i8 revealed, plug power can deliver some great performance and the X8 M, it seems, will give BMW a chance to prove that doesn’t have to be limited to sports car applications.
That’s in line with comments made by several BMW officials over the last year. “For me, power PHEV is the next step,” BMW Chief of Engineering Klaus Frohlich said during a media roundtable. “Of course, that car will be between 1,600 to 1,700 kilograms (3,500 to 3,700 pounds), all-wheel drive, and 600 horsepower at least.”
That was echoed last year by Markus Flash, the head of BMW M, who said that a performance-oriented PHEV carrying the performance division’s logo would likely be one of its bigger, heavier models where the added mass would be less of a drawback.
According to Car, the X8 M would pair a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 with an electric drive package. It’s unclear how many motors would be used in the system but it would seem all but certain that BMW will go for an all-wheel-drive layout, the better to ensure all that tire-spinning torque quickly locks onto the pavement. The driveline is said to be a variation of what will be found in the upcoming iNext.
The range-topping X8 is not expected to reach showrooms until the 2023 model-year, and it’s being suggested that the M version could take another year or two. By then, BMW expects to have an array of plug-based options for most of its familiar nameplates.
And it won’t be alone. From mainstream to high-line, the industry is rushing to add new plug-in hybrids and all-electric models. Manufacturers are aiming to boost range, with 250 or more miles per charge quickly becoming the price of entry. But, especially in the luxury sector, performance is becoming equally important.
The good news is that with the instant torque that electric motors can develop, tomorrow’s plug-ins and all-electric models are likely to be some of the fastest products ever brought into production.