In case you haven’t noticed, BMW has revived several nameplates that were used back in the day as codenames for gasoline engines. They’ve now been repurposed for electric M Performance models, namely the i4 M50 and iX M60, with the i7 M70 coming next year. However, it wasn’t a deliberate move to revive these designations for the electric era as the decision was made to establish a hierarchy within a model’s lineup.
Timo Resch, Vice President Customer, Brand, Sales at BMW M GmbH, explained in an interview with CarBuzz the reasoning behind the decision to use the M50, M60, and M70 suffixes: “It’s simply a logical way for customers to understand the hierarchy.” He went on to mention it’s a coincidence that these three codenames resurfaced but admits the engineers at home in Munich remember what those monikers originally stood for.
For a trip down memory lane, the M50 was a straight-six gasoline engine used throughout the 1990s in a variety of models with different displacements and high-performance S50 versions. The V8 started out with 148 horsepower in the 2.0-liter M50B20 and topped at 321 hp for the 3.2-liter S50B32.
The M60 had a shorter life span as it was only available from 1992 to 1996 in 3.0- and 4.0-liter configurations, maxing out at 314 hp in the ALPINA B10 4.0.
The M70 is unquestionably the most iconic of the trio as it powered the original 8 Series Coupe and the McLaren F1. This naturally aspirated V12 had just under 300 hp in its base form, rising to nearly 630 hp for the S70/3 configuration used by the LM and LMR endurance race cars and also the bonkers X5 LM Concept.
It will be interesting to see how BMW will name its full-fat M electric models when these will hit eventually the market. A sports car without a combustion engine was seemingly teased at the end of last month. Separately, rumor has it the M3 will be the first real M car to ditch the ICE.