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Sedan, people-mover or SUV? Depending on the day of the week and which executive you can corner, the final shape of BMW’s next ultra-green i car could be ‘any of the above’.

But, each passing month brings reports that suggest 2016 will be the year of the electric, or electric-assisted, premium SUV. The new Tesla Model X, Audi’s confirmed ‘Q6 e-tron’ and a rumoured Mercedes-Benz ELC stand out as just three potential highlights.

Would BMW, then, skip that emerging segment in favour of a Model S– or Model 3-rivalling sedan? Compact city cars and small MPVs are popular in Europe, while sedans find plenty of favour in the US and China. SUVs are popular everywhere, however, and that hints at an obvious choice for sales growth.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the German carmaker is closing in on “the final stages” of deciding on a new companion to the i3 and i8, which is expected to be known as the BMW i5.

BMW i3 - Driving

Recent reports suggest the new model will bring an SUV angle to the range, which has so far focused on the popular city-car and ultra-exclusive sports coupe markets.

According to the UK’s Autocar, the SUV style is odds-on favourite for a green light, and our new rendering (top of article) offer a look at how the so-called BMW i5 could be styled.

An all-electric power system is expected to provide motivation in the i5, although a plug-in hybrid EV version could also be offered to satisfy buyers with longer-distance driving needs.

However, with BMW already offering an X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid, it may stick with all-electric in the i5 as a point of difference.

As with the existing BMW i range, expect the i5 – whatever its final form – to be packed with a liberal dose of carbon-fibre, along with new autonomous driving systems and a driving range comfortably beyond 300 kilometres.

A launch date for the next i car is still to be confirmed, but with BMW celebrating its centenary in 2016, we could see a concept version appear very soon.

MORE: BMW i3, BMW i8 news, reviews pricing and specs




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