BMW is only two short years away from celebrating its 100th year in business, and speculation around how the German automaker will celebrate is starting to grow. One heavily speculated party place is within the BMW i division. A conversation between BMW’s senior spokesman Kai Lichte and Motoring.com.au shed just a little more light on the upcoming situation. Plans for a more powerful version of the i8, the i9 , are rumored to already be in the works. Also on the table is the i5 , an all-new i vehicle loosely described as a stretched i3. Lichte’s answer to Motoring’s query is somewhat vague. “in two years’ time, maybe we will have some surprises for our anniversary,” he says. “There are a lot of discussions and a lot of ideas for this special occasion.”
Since the i9 is based on the current i8 , it’s likely it will see production first. The i9 will basically swap out the i8’s inline three-cylinder for a more potent 3.0-liter, turbocharged, inline six-cylinder, elevating it to near-supercar levels of performance. It would also serve as a modern-day interpretation of the iconic BMW M1 of the late 1970s.
The i5, on the other hand, will likely need more development time. It’s said the i5 will probably hit production in 2017, a year after BMW’s actual birthday. Perhaps the i9 will be BMW’s physical present to itself while the announcement of the i5 will continue the birthday hype into the future.
However at this point, BMW is still trying to figure out how to increase i-branded production at its new plant in Leipzig, Germany. "When we decide on more i models, then we would need more production capacity and … the next two years I think we have (are) limited to the current production line," Lichte concluded.
Note: BMW i8 pictured here.
Click past the jump to read more about the BMW i5 and i9.
Why It Matters
Celebrating its centenary with the launch of new products is a fantastic idea. Most recently, Chrysler’s Dodge division celebrated its centenary with the announcement of the Hellcat’s 707-horsepower rating. But what about the i cars themselves? Well, the performance-oriented i9 would make a great addition to the i brand, as well as BMW’s list of performance vehicles. The addition of a larger, perhaps more family-oriented i vehicle, the i5, would make the i brand accessible to more people.
BMW has been testing electric, i branded for quite some time now, as evidenced by this older BMW sedan shot back in 2012. The rumors surrounding the i5 say it will look more like an enlarged version of the current i3, likely with more people and cargo room. Expect the i5 to enjoy a decent battery range while still offering the convenience of an optional range-extending gasoline engine. The i5 is said to be scheduled for a 2017 delivery date.
Like the current i8, the upcoming i9 will have the same, futuristic and bold design. The majority of the changes will take place under its hood with the addition of a much larger engine. The i8’s meek, three-cylinder unit will get swapped for a turbocharged, 3.0-liter I-6 that produces around 400 horsepower. Combine that with a set of powerful batteries, and the i9 makes a pretty good competitor to the Porsche 918.