Will BMW’s next i-badged model be a Model S-punching plug-in hybrid sedan?

A new report coming out of Germany finds that BMW is in the early stages of developing its next i-badged model. Tentatively dubbed i5, the car will take the form of a large, luxurious sedan powered by an advanced plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

The i5 will ride on a modified version of the platform that underpins the long-wheelbase 5 Series that is currently sold exclusively in China. Its plug-in hybrid drivetrain will consist of a turbocharged gasoline-burning four-cylinder engine tuned to generate approximately 220 horsepower and a pair of electric motors rated at 150 and 272 horsepower, respectively. The two power sources will send an impressive total of 640 horsepower to all four wheels.

The electric motors will power the sedan by themselves at speeds of up to about 40 mph. Beyond that, the turbo four will kick in to deliver the drivetrain’s full output and charge the high-capacity battery pack if needed. With the battery fully charged, the i5 will be able to drive on electricity alone for up to 77 miles, far exceeding the range provided by the current crop of plug-ins.

Interestingly, German magazine Auto Bild reports that the i5 will borrow styling cues from the next-generation 7 Series that will be introduced later this year but its overall proportions will be closer to the 6 Series Gran Coupe. All told, it should look considerably sportier than the all-electric i3 and a little more conventional than the 22nd century-esque i8 plug-in hybrid (pictured).

If Auto Bild’s report is correct, the BMW i5 will be presented to the public at a major auto show in 2017 and it will go on sale in China and in North America about a year later. The sedan will carry a base price of approximately $100,000, but BMW nonetheless believes that it can sell about 30,000 examples a year.

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