BMW will drop the 'i' from gas-powered trim names

Gotta love an enthusiast’s laser focus. After BMW announced a coming X3 trim called the X3 M50, BMW Blog asked where the expected “i” went, referring to the little dotted letter that stands for “injection” when placed at the end of a trim name on a gasoline-powered vehicle. For example, the X3 M50 will be the top non-M trim, replacing the X3 M40i. The outlet said that Bernd Körber, BMW’s SVP of brand and product management, replied, “[We] historically had injection at the end [of the badge]. We said we would like to keep ‘i’ as an asset, and we would like to keep it as a signature to indicate you’re driving an electric car.”

Eventually, and likely as models are updated with facelifts or new generations, the only “i” outside a BMW vehicle will appear at the beginning of the model name, like i3, i4, and i5. The only other lower-case “i” BMW puts to work is for the interior, denoting the iDrive infotainment operating system and vehicle software.

That fuel injection “i” is at least 50 years old, going back to BMW’s M30B30 engine that translated to 3.0 CSi trim names in 1971, denoting the Bosch D-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection.

The news is just another page in the book of nomenclature changes, this book rewritten every generation or so, and comes at a punishing time for any alphanumerics. Remember when German luxury cars were known by their engine displacements? Then model ranges proliferated and smaller engines got way more powerful, and it seemed distasteful to have a smaller number mean more than an older larger numbers. a variety of automakers are planning. Now the Mercedes-Benz S 500 sedan, once the V8 king, is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six, the S 580 powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8.

Speaking of Mercedes, it’s also sorting out how to move forward with its EQS branding. At Audi, model names like the Audi Q8 60 TFSI E Quattro need an editor’s red pen pronto (Audi of America doesn’t put the numbers on the cars, Europe does), a move that’s on the way starting with the Q6 E-Tron.  



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