Well-mixed lean SI engine operation can provide improvements of the fuel economy relative to that of traditional well-mixed stoichiometric SI operation. This work examines the use of two methods for improving the stability of lean operation, namely multi-pulse transient plasma ignition and intake air preheating. These two methods are compared to standard SI operation using a conventional high-energy inductive ignition system without intake air preheating. E85 is the fuel chosen for this study.The multi-pulse transient plasma ignition system utilizes custom electronics to generate 10 kHz bursts of 10 ultra-short (12ns), high-amplitude pulses (200 A). These pulses were applied to a custom spark plug with a semi-open ignition cavity. High-speed imaging reveals that ignition in this cavity generates a turbulent jet-like early flame spread that speeds up the transition from ignition to the main combustion event.Performance testing shows that lean operation with heated intake air enables a 17% improvement of fuel economy at ϕ = 0.59 for both ignition systems, relative to that of stoichiometric operation. Moreover, multi-pulse transient plasma ignition offers more stable ultra-lean operation, with IMEPn variability less than 5% down to ϕ = 0.49. The ability to operate stably at such lean conditions is attributed to a more stable flame initiation offered by both the increased charge temperature and the multi-pulse transient plasma ignition that allows a later spark timing due to the very fast transition to fully turbulent deflagration.