Buckle up, BMW enthusiasts, because today we’re peering into the beating heart of BMW design with the launch of “BMW Behind The Scenes,” a three-book masterpiece by acclaimed automotive author Steve Saxty. This isn’t just a coffee table collection; it’s a portal to 80 years of automotive artistry. Prepare to lose yourself in hundreds of never-before-seen photos and sketches, each stroke pulsating with the passion of visionary designers. Saxty, a former car design engineer himself, navigated this journey with Head of BMW Group Design Adrian van Hooydonk as his guide. They delved deep into BMW’s archives, unlocking a treasure trove of secrets for us to witness. One of those never seen BMW models is an i8 successor built under the project name I16. The book discloses a potential name that was under consideration for the production series car: BMW iM.

BMW iM or the I16 Project

Saxty’s books fully reveal the car showing renders of what would have been a production series successor of the BMW i8. A team of three designers worked on the car to design it in the span of 12 months, an impressive achievement. The exterior design was penned by Jose Casas, known for several new BMWs, like the BMW M2 G87. The book further reveals that the car was based on the BMW Vision M Next concept. The idea was to take the composite structure of the BMW i8 and reimagine it into a modern M1. The book reveals a lot more images of the BMW I16 project.

Photos Provided by Steve Saxty, courtesy of BMW

As we reported in the past, the drivetrain was supposed to be a plug-in hybrid, a combination of a four-cylinder engine up front with an electric motor in the rear. Total power output? 536 horsepower (400kW). The engine compartment had the potential to house the B58 six-cylinder engine, but the i8 chassis’s width posed a compatibility challenge for its integration.

Supercar Design

The BMW iM was more than an i8 successor though. It was supposed to be BMW’s future supercar, and its design reflected that. While some of the i8 features were present in the BMW iM, others were simply paying homage to the iconic BMW M1. The BMW i8 side glass and windshield were repurposed, but the rest of the design was based on the M Vision Next. It had traditional, small kidney grilles, single headlamps instead of the two thin lights on the concept, and a rear-end resembling the M1. It was pipeless, but the rear end was absolutely stunning. The book reveals the car in an all-black color scheme, but also in the silver-orange paint of the concept car.

Yet, the market was shifting towards high-end SUVs, and the COVID-19 pandemic put the final nail in the coffin. The BMW iM was dead! Former head of R&D Klaus Frolich gathered the team in 2020 and delivered the news. Instead, the design and engineering team was assigned to a new project – the BMW XM – which became the halo car for the BMW M brand.

So if you’re interested in learning more about what went behind the scenes, then the three-volume boxed set will be available soon – at a pre-order price of $299.95/€239/£78.11. Alternatively, the principal book, “BMW by Design” is available immediately for $99.95/€90.02/£88.10; all with free shipping in USA, UK and EU.

[Photos Provided by Steve Saxty, courtesy of BMW]