Do you remember when representatives at BMW said they would never make a supercar? Apparently, they lied. What they meant to say was that they’d never make a purely internal combustion engine supercar. Instead, the Bavarians have been planning a true plug-in hybrid supercar all along.
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When the BMW Vision iNEXT made its debut, it was quite shocking to a lot of the fanbase. Its focus on autonomy and technology felt like the antithesis of what a BMW is supposed to be — the Ultimate Driving Machine. For fans that felt disappointment upon seeing the iNEXT, fear not. The Bavarians now have a concept supercar for the future of drivers and performance. The BMW Vision M NEXT.>
“The BMW Vision M NEXT provides a glimpse into the future of sporty driving,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “Where the BMW Vision iNEXT illustrated how autonomous driving is set to transform life on board our vehicles, the BMW Vision M NEXT demonstrates how state-of-the-art technology can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging. In both models, the focus is firmly on the people inside. Design and technology make the ‘EASE’ and ‘BOOST’ experiences more natural and more intense.”
While the BMW Vision M NEXT is about driving, it’s also about relaxation. This is a concept for the future, after all, and the future needs to have autonomy. However, the autonomy in the M NEXT isn’t designed to take driving pleasure away. In fact, it’s sort of there to do the opposite. In the BMW Vision M NEXT, EASE mode will allow drivers to turn the interior into a relaxation pod, letting the car take over and handle the mundane parts of driving. Why drive through gridlock traffic or mind-numbing stretches of highway? Let the car do that.
When you want to take over though, as the driver, that’s when you switch it into BOOST mode. According to BMW, BOOST mode is designed to be the “ultimate active driving experience”. It’s also when you get to unleash its full performance potential.
Powering the BMW Vision M NEXT is a plug-in hybrid powertrain that uses a setup similar in layout to the BMW i8 but one that’s so much more exciting. The M NEXT uses a four-cylinder turbocharged engine mounted behind the driver, in combination with electric motors, to make 600 hp. Even better than that, drivers will be able to choose between electrified all-wheel drive or pure rear-wheel drive. Can you hear the sound of scorching tires from a mid-engine BMW? We sure can.
There’s also a “BOOST+” mode that allows for even more power for a short period of time. This isn’t uncommon in EVs, where a specific mode allows a temporary boost of power, designed to accelerate harder than normal but without overheating the batteries. At max power, all of its 600 hybridized horses and all-wheel drive are said to propel the BMW Vision M NEXT from 0-62 mph in just three seconds. When you want to slow things down, it can also drive in pure EV mode, with a total electric range of 62 miles. That last bit won’t impress the Tesla crowd but the BMW Vision M NEXT is primarily designed to be an electrified performance car; a car that uses the best technology available to get the most performance possible. It’s not designed to be a max-range, hyper-efficient EV. The all-electric range is added so that customers can drive like a lunatic when they want but also emit zero emissions in cities where future regulations will demand such driving.
Sounds good, right? Have your cake and eat it, too. And yet, we haven’t even gotten to its looks yet.
Fans have been begging for a BMW supercar for what seems like centuries. Ever since the tragic demise of the BMW M1, enthusiasts of the Bavarian brand have wanted a follow up, a successor to one of the most iconic BMWs of all time. For years, rumors have swirled before getting squashed by BMW reps. Now, though, a BMW supercar is right here in front of our faces. The BMW Vision M NEXT might not be marketed as such a car but, just look at it, there’s no denying that it’s a proper supercar.
Its design is a cross between the BMW i8 and the M1 Hommage and it looks fantastic. There’s a stubby wedginess (that’s not a word) to it that’s reminiscent of the Giugiaro-designed BMW M1 from the ’70s. There’s also some second-gen Acura NSX in there, which is no bad thing. Mostly, though, I see the BMW M1 Hommage concept, a car so fantastic looking that fans still talk about it today. The C-pillar vents, the louvered rear window, its spindle-thin taillights with BMW Roundels in them — harking back to the original M1 — all combine to make the Vision M NEXT the BMW supercar we’ve been waiting for. Regardless of what BMW might call it.
“The BMW Vision M NEXT is a progressive hybrid sports car that makes a very clear and confident statement, in terms of both appearance and interaction,” said Domagoj Dukec, Vice President BMW Design
That stunning body work gets carbon fiber everywhere, with some of it exposed and some of it painted. The two-tone paint job of Cast Silver metallic and Thrilling Orange make for one striking supercar and we hope those colors are available on the production version, even if they’re just offered in isolation and not in combination. One of the really cool bits about this car is its Kidney Grille design. For starters, they’re relatively small by modern BMW standards. But being a plug-in hybrid, those grilles aren’t real. Instead, they’re closed off by a transparent panel that’s laser etched and backlit to make it look as if it’s floating inside.
Another interesting aspect of the BMW Vision M NEXT’s design is its headlight arrangement. BMW has long had twin-circle headlights, side-by-side. It’s a BMW tradition dating back decades and decades. However, for the first time maybe ever, this BMW doesn’t have even semi-circular headlights. Instead, two horizontal bars, with little loops at one end of each, are arranged vertically. This keeps the dual headlight design in place by shows a massive leap forward.
Not only that but the tech used to create them is unheard of in the industry. Rather than even laser lights, these light bars are made from glass fiber that’s coated in phosphorous and they’re called Laser Wire headlights. The same tech is used in the taillights as well.
While the outside is all wedgy, high-tech supercar, the interior is futuristic minimalist. The driver sits low and cocooned by the cabin, with nothing but a steering wheel and two floating, curved transparent screens ahead. The steering wheel itself is a funky shape and features no buttons or gimmicks. It’s just a steering wheel. Or so it seems. The rest of the cabin is completely devoid of visible tech, making it quite relaxing to the eye.
Don’t let that minimalism fool you, though. The cabin of the BMW Vision M NEXT is packed with tech. For instance, those transparent screens, combined, are called the “Boost Pod”. They can display all sorts of information and they’re designed to be the main focal point of the driver’s cockpit. “The entire interior is focused on the BOOST Pod. The geometry has a deliberately low-key feel so that the driver can concentrate fully on the driving experience,” explains Domagoj Dukec.
The rest of the tech is hidden away. For instance, the BMW Vision M NEXT is said to have an augmented reality Head-Up display but you can’t see it when the car is off. Hell, even the air vents are hidden so that the dash and interior look like they’re made from a single piece of cabin. This is intentional, though, as BMW wanted to make this car about driving and letting the technology assist in the background, quietly. The best part, though, is the gyroscopic cupholder that’s able to compensate for lateral g-forces to keep drinks from spilling. Amazing.
“In the BMW Vision M NEXT, intelligent technologies help the driver and deliver the right content at the right time. Operation is clear and intuitive, with all information presented in the driver’s direct field of view. This is a deliberate counterpoint to the BMW Vision iNEXT, which focused on multimodal operation from every seat,” says Dukec.
It’s not all just techno-wiz-bangery, though. There’s still some old-school, good ole fashioned material quality. “We have designed a modern and luxurious interior with the help of innovative materials. Whereas its geometry is clear and restrained, individual details are showcased like top-class accessories,” says Dukec. Though, BMW tried to keep the leather down, for various reason, so it’s only in places where hands easily fall to place, such as the steering wheel.
The BMW Vision M NEXT is a very exciting car. It might not be what you wanted or what you were hoping for but it’s hard to not be optimistic about it. Just its looks alone are enough to inspire the BMW enthusiast in all of us. It genuinely looks like a modern BMW M1 and its mid-engined layout with 600 hp make it a proper BMW supercar, never mind its hybrid nature. With looks this good, a driver-focused interior, a focus on performance and excitement and enough power to threaten Ferraris, the BMW Vision M NEXT is a very exciting and interesting view into the future of BMW performance cars.
BMW Vision M Next Design
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BMW Vision M Next Live Photos