In lieu of recent rumors surrounding BMW’s iNext lineup, set to debut in 2021, we have amassed new speculation over current and future plug-in-vehicle production plans, including the likes of the new special-edition i3 and i8 and their potential successors in the new electrified lineup.

Just a few days ago, BMW debuted the new RoadStyle i3 and Ultimate Sophisto i8, two new and exclusive packages for PHEV enthusiasts accompanied by a rather impressive spec list. Exclusively equipped on the i3s and i8 respectively, the new packages are marked by signature paint, E-copper accents, and new twenty-inch wheels, among other things.

The i3s RoadStyle edition will come with a fresh coat of BMW’s newest paint color, Fluid Black, which is exclusive to the fewer than 1,000 models planned for production, adding to its uniqueness. The dark exterior also boasts new twenty-inch Jet Black BMW-i wheels and special-edition E-Copper accents, which line the front bumper, side skirts, and signature kidney grilles, contrasting the body while complementing the new overall aesthetic.

Inside, Dalbergia Brown leather and a dark oak matte wood trim line the interior surfaces, adding a touch of luxury to the cabin. Of course, it would not be a special edition without custom interior plating, which is why each special-edition i3s comes with embroidered headrests bearing the “Edition RoadStyle” ID along with engraved door sills—finishing touches that add to the exclusivity of the model.

The interior of the Ultimate Sophisto i8 comes complete with E-Copper leather and “Ultimate Sophisto” engraving and badging.

Like the i3s, the limited-production i8 variant, referred to as Ultimate Sophisto, will also sport a special paint color, Sophisto Gray, with an alluring metallic finish. BMW is planning production of 200 units, including both coupe and roadster configurations. Each comes with a set of twenty-inch BMW-i light-alloy wheels, finished with the same  E-Copper accents present on the rest of the car. High-gloss black elements line the tailgate and calipers, while the i brand’s signature blue paint surrounds details like the roundels and other badging.

Similar to the RoadStyle i3s, the i8 Ultimate Sophisto also has its own edition-specific interior badging, with engraved door-sill plates identifying it, and another badge recognizing the car’s exclusive status with “1 of 200” engraving.

The debut of the RoadStyle i3s and Ultimate Sophisto i8 come ahead of each model’s ultimate replacement, as BMW executives continue to finalize design and engineering plans for both models. The i3 will not bear a similar name, but instead an entirely new one, as the new model will only share some similar characteristics. Rumored to be called the iX1 (U11), the new “i3” is speculated to bear more of a resemblance to the current-production X1, leading us to believe that it will also be a FWD crossover. Unlike its gasoline-powered relative, the iX1 EV model is said to come with two battery options, including 36 and 86-kWh configurations, and be crafted from the same sustainable resources as before while also sporting a new conservative yet futuristic design.

As for the award-winning spaceship coupe we’ve all come to know and love, the i8 will be reborn as the i12, and will most likely see a complete overhaul which takes a final form similar to the M-Vision Next prototype that BMW debuted in June. The new i12 will adhere to its i8 roots, combining a powerful and likely heavily boosted turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engine with a  potent eDrive system. Although the future is still shrouded in mystery, speculation has amassed around BMW’s new electrified image. Rumors suggest that the lineage of the i8 will continue on to become fully-electric, with the endgame model carrying the game-changing presence of the original forward. Along with decreased drag coefficients and an increase in power, this future full-electric all-wheel-drive coupe concept is rumored to include a so-called “hypersonic” 671-hp electric configuration, courtesy of the engineers at BMW’s M division. With the new models set to debut in 2022 after BMW’s 2021 iNext lineup release, we can only wait and anticipate these big changes—but the future looks engaging.—Malia Murphy

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]



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