What occurs to the driver who loves driving in a globe of independent cars? BMW suggests the solution might be something like this: the fresh idea of BMW Vision M NEXT. A combination of electrification, thoughtful aid tech, and unique style is the latest in the NEXT series of near-future concept vehicles from the automaker.
The self-imposed challenge of BMW is a simple one. We’re informed that the future will see the shift of mobility from individual drivers in control of their own cars to independent transportation that frees individuals to do other tasks as they move around. Problem is, where do the riders fit in with this situation?
With the BMW Vision iNEXT late last year, the automaker explored the potential future of self-driving vehicles, and now it’s the turn of its polar opposite. The Vision M NEXT is a gas-electric hybrid that riffs off the BMW i8 in the architecture of both style and drivetrain. It is the “BOOST” counterpart to the “EASE” approach of the Vision iNEXT, according to the automaker.
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Electrical component, part gas
The Vision M NEXT, which is somewhat unusual for a contemporary concept vehicle, does not completely escape inner combustion. Rather, it’s a hybrid, with distinct drive modes to choose from. You can have electric all-wheel drive, for example, or rear-wheel drive only. Optionally, the rear wheels can be driven by a four-cylinder gas engine.
BMW claims the complete system energy is 600 horsepower, excellent in 3.0 seconds for 0-62 mph and a top velocity of 186 mph. For a short time, a BOOST+ mode throws additional horsepower. The total electrical range, the automaker estimates, would be 62 miles.
The driver would not be left to their own devices, according to BMW, to figure out the best conditions mode. For instance, the scheme could suggest when triggering BOOST+ mode would be most useful.
In a new design, BMW DNA
Concept cars must be eye-catching, and the Vision M NEXT is not stuck in style enough. At the front, the kidney grille of BMW receives bold triangular intakes of air, completed in Thrilling Orange, and a reduced intake in the blade form. The use of color is the focus, with gradients adding to a sense of depth in the internal grille.
Indeed, the grille itself is blanked off with a transparent layer laser-etched and illuminated. The Laser Wire headlamps are located above, using phosphorous-coated glass fibers for illumination. They enable even slimmer and more crisp lighting.
There is a clear wedge shape from the side with a mixture of black recycled carbon fiber skirts and diagonal splashes of orange contrast. A gill-like opening narrows back to the tail from the windows while the so-called Air Flow flows just ahead of the rear wheels and helps with aerodynamics.
Indeed, aero was a key focus for the designers of BMW. Gaps carefully added to the multi-spoke wheels, such as 21-inch front and22-inch rear wheels, help cut drag and help the brake disks to cool down. The rear side combines more orange and carbon fiber with three-piece glass louvres.
BMW’s Laser Wire technology gives the taillamps another look, with glass lenses extending into the car’s hips. Inside each, there is a wafer-thin glass fiber used by BMW designers to create “an abstract ECG trace of a heartbeat.” The classic BMW Turbo and BMW M1 roundels were rebooted in the light clusters themselves as floating 2D circles.
Technology meets the targeted driver inside
Walk to the BMW Vision M NEXT and unlock the vehicle with facial recognition. A touch sensor on the gullwing gates allows them to thrive open, exposing a cabin that is relatively minimalist. Extraneous detail has been hidden away, like air vents, while the seat shells are padded with memory foam and have distinctive “floating” headrests.
BMW used predominantly Midnight Blue microfiber, with Thrilling Orange highlights, anodized titanium, and painted surfaces instead of leather, which features only minimally. Accent lines highlight the cabin’s controls and general shape. Door pockets and storage of the center console have been disguised, while there is a gyroscopic cupholder that BMW says is better to deal with the forces that come with aggressive driving.
Controlling is condensed into something that BMW calls the BOOST Pod. The steering wheel has two tiny screens and sits in front of a curved glass screen stretching like a digital viewfinder around the wheel. Finally, there is a windshield of enhanced reality. Five clusters are allocated to items like velocity, battery levels, accessibility of BOOST+ mode, and even the driver’s heart rate on the curved glass screen.
While having distinct dashboard layouts based on drive mode is not uncommon for vehicles, the Vision M NEXT separates itself by changing what is noticeable by vehicle velocity. The data submitted is pared back as the vehicle runs quicker, minimizing the distraction potential. In order to make it easier and faster to see, driving-related data shifts further into the line of sight–a benefit of the AR windshield.
However, there is the Intelligent Personal Assistant beyond the confines of the vehicle. That can be used to book facilities such as valet parking and charging to wait at the location of the car.
A concept and an overview
BMW makes no commitments about the Vision M NEXT. It’s unlikely to show up in dealerships anytime soon, though the clear connections with models such as the BMW i8 might be hints of future design directions. Meanwhile, the PHEV hybrid drivetrain seems highly practical, and we could readily see it powering the present hybrid sports vehicle of the automaker.
But what really matters is the BMW Vision M NEXT ethos, not the vehicle itself. It is simple to believe that driving enthusiasts are left out in the cold in an autonomous-dominated future, and one where electrification holds sway. That’s a chance the Vision M NEXT looks eager to counter, and while a manufacturing version seems far-fetched, it’s likely that passionate motorists should take heart that BMW is not yet prepared to give up.