It appears that BMW is “actively considering” the idea of introducing a flagship supercar in the near future, one that will sit at the very top of the M model range, rivalling emotive sports cars such as the McLaren 570S. According to Autocar, the new flagship could take inspiration from the i8, perhaps serving as an indirect replacement as well.

BMW board member Klaus Fröhlich, who is responsible for product development, hinted that the supercar is in the works. “If you are an engineer, once in your life, you want to make a super-sports car. I think partial electrification will enable that.”

“If we have these very compact and very powerful electric driving units, if we have a carbon-fibre chassis, and if we still have high-performance engines, then, if you do it cleverly, you can combine them into a real performance package,” he said, adding “if you look at the supercars beyond 2020, they will be all partially electric. And if you look at power plug-in hybrids we are planning for today, an electric motor in our PHEVs has a little bit more than 100 hp and 250 Nm of torque.”

The as-yet-unnamed model is tipped to arrive by 2023 and will likely use a more advanced petrol plug-in hybrid powertrain and a lightweight carbon-fibre chassis derived from the i8. The biggest differentiating factor though, is that it will double the cylinder count, with BMW possibly deploying a six-cylinder petrol. Expect the new halo model to pack over 700 hp (that’s almost twice the i8’s 374-hp output!), exceeding the upcoming BMW M8‘s 600-hp mark.

Fröhlich added that BMW’s next-generation electric motors will be able to produce over 200 hp and upwards of 500 Nm, and it’s achievable within a few years’ time. “So if you see this e-motor in a car which can give you in milliseconds the push formerly found in a V8 engine, then you can have a very sporty feel from this power PHEV – and it fits perfectly to the M brand,” he said.

The publication suggests that BMW’s new supercar could easily exceed the i8’s asking price (it costs RM1.31 million in Malaysia), putting it right up against electrified rivals such as the Honda NSX. In the UK, the i8 is priced from £114,000 (RM593k), but the new PHEV supercar will likely start around £150,000 (RM780k) or more. Production numbers are said to be limited, thus sustaining the car’s exclusivity and help retain residual values, the latter apparently a weak point of the i8.

Meanwhile, Fröhlich explained that BMW M’s long term plan is to go electric, but hybrids will rule the roost. “M will also be electric in the future, but we will work very heavily on partial electrification on M cars. This is because they do not only need acceleration on the straight. They have to drive around corners and race tracks, so weight is an issue and electric vehicles still have a weight penalty for range.”

Each of BMW’s two platforms are able to accommodate combustion engines, plug-in hybrids and electric powertrains, which means that every BMW from 2021 could potentially go full electric. Fröhlich said “the M cars are derived from that architecture, the electric i cars will be derived from that architecture and I think flexibility to react to different demands all over the world is key.”

“For example, we can’t afford to have a 7 Series on an electric platform and a conventional platform, so the 7 Series for China will be a lot of EVs and, in America, perhaps we will have power PHEVs or perhaps there will be M Performance derivatives.”