There seems to be an interesting trend beginning among car YouTubers, in which they take an electric car, typically a Tesla Model S, and swap its electric powertrain for a powerful gas engine. To be honest, I don’t understand the appeal of a Model S with a V8, as it’s a mediocre car at best without the EV gubbins; it rides okay, handles pretty poorly compared to its traditional rivals, and has a ho-hum interior. However, then I started thinking about other EVs that might be interesting with gas engines and the BMW i3 immediately came to mind.
The reason why the BMW i3 spring to mind is because its EV powertrain is the last thing that makes the i3 impressive. In fact, the i3’s EV powertrain is probably the worst thing about it; it’s relatively slow and lacks a decent range. But the rest of it is brilliant; the carbon fiber chassis, sharp steering, and wonderful interior. Imagine, instead of its underwhelming EV powertrain, the BMW i3 had a turbo-four instead?
With a buzzy little turbocharged four-pot, such as the BMW 330i’s B48 engine — which makes 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque — the BMW i3 would be an absolute riot to drive. Fit it with a manual transmission and it would be the most hilarious hot-hatch on the market. It checks all the hot-hatch boxes: short wheelbase, ultra lightweight, and great outward visibility. The BMW i3, as an EV, is actually rear-wheel drive so it could be like an even lighter, funkier looking version of the rear-drive 1 Series hatchbacks.
Of course, this is absurd and ridiculous but it that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? The incongruity of a gasoline hatchback being built from one of the most forward thinking EVs of its time would make it funny but the recipe would actually make it fun. I’m not saying BMW should make one, as it’d be an absurd thing to invest money in, but that someone in the aftermarket should build one. I think it would be a blast.