Remember the good old days when at least BMW nomenclature was straightforward? The first digit designated the series and the second and third the displacement of the engine. Maybe an extra letter would be tacked on, but that was it. Then they started with M this, Z that and X for the SUVs with xDrive all-wheel drive. So now we've got things like the X6 xDrive 35i. Now they're dropping another one on us: rear-wheel-drive models, which used to be the entire BMW line-up, will now bear the "sDrive" nameplate in addition to whatever else they stick on there.
We already knew this was coming for the upcoming X1, which will be offered in both xDrive (AWD) and sDrive (RWD) variants. (The current X3, X5 and X6 crossovers are all strictly all-wheel-drive models.) BMW has even reportedly registered the trademarks for sDrive18, sDrive20, sDrive30 and sDrive35, as if someone else would try and use the confusing nomenclature. Wait a second... sDrive35? As in the twin-turbo straight six in the 335i? That's bigger than the engine offered in the larger X3, so what is BMW up to?
Reports indicate that the sDrive nameplate could begin appearing on other BMW models driven through the rear axle, including the replacement for the Z4 roadster that was just caught nekkid today. If you look closely on the front fender, you can see a badge that looks an awful lot like "sDrive". We wouldn't expect to see the moniker on the standard series models (1, 3, 5, 6 and 7 Series), since those get the suffix "iX", but we're not sure we can even count on that anymore.