Every few years, BMW will give us an insight into what their brand will look like in the future. Sometimes, as BMW enthusiasts, we get a little worried. Like many, sometimes I have gotten a little worried about some of BMW’s designs. Unlike some brands, Bayerische Motoren Werke does not stray away from being bold (for better or worse). This week for the North American market, BMW premiered the Vision Neue Klasse X, their futuristic concept car for what the brand’s electric SUVs may soon look like. Rest assured, this new vision concept brought about some great news: It looks great and its got some impressive tech to back it up.

The “Neue” Neue Klasse

BMW Vision Neue Klasse X

The name “Neue Klasse” isn’t actually new to BMW. This moniker is a throwback to a time when BMW was struggling in the late 1950s and early 1960s. To reinvent the brand and bet the brand on a new direction the original “Neue Klasse” of cars began with the 1961 BMW 1500. Later this would evolve into the 2002 we received in the United States and acted as the predecessor to the modern 3 Series that has become legendary.

This name and the subsequent design pays homage to the early days of BMW and these early models that began selling in the US. The Neue Klasse X takes many styling cues from the 1500 and 2002, and tastefully applies them to an SUV form. The overall silhouette features a low belt like many of the early cars. This provides great visibility, wonderfully balanced proportions and even helps reduce the center of gravity and reduce weight.

Vertical Grilles, Hofmeister Kink Present

The Hoffmeister kink makes a return on the C pillar but the big story is the front. The kidney grilles have gotten healthier, they’re no longer swollen, and they look great on this car. Much like the 2002 or E30-generation 3 Series the kidney grilles have shrunken considerable and more closely resemble earlier BMW designs. In fact, some have said it more closely resembles the original E53 X5 designed by Frank Stevenson and Henrik Fisker.

Brand New Interior Design

The interior represents an entirely new paradigm shift for the brand. With a focus on sustainability the cabin was adorned with cloth seats and other recyclable material that had a very mid century design reminiscent of car design from the 1950s and 1960s. The orange over tan interior color combination shown was warm and inviting in conjunction with the large windows and glass roof that let in a lot of natural light. There were even color matched pillows in the rear seat similar to the XM.

New iDrive Operating System

The infotainment system showcases BMW’s newest iDrive system. Not officially named, it is possible what the future iDrive 10 may look like. Most notably besides the parallelogram shaped infotainment screen, is the 48 inch wide BMW Panoramic Vision Screen that rests just below the windshield. The different elements of information within this screen can be customized by dragging the icons into place from the central infotainment screen. This is a rather intuitive way to customize driving information in a way that is close to the driver’s line of sight out to the road ahead. This not only helps improve safety by mitigating how much you need to take your eyes off the road, it actually makes a lot of sense in practice.

The infotainment software is extremely snappy and that is largely in part due to BMW’s new computer hardware. More than just an updated hardware change, BMW has rethought how a car’s control systems interact with each other. This represents an entirely new computer architecture for a car, BMW now has centrally located many of the separate computer modules into one processor.

Heart of Joy

This supercomputer is named: “Heart of Joy.” By combining the powertrain, battery, suspension, and steering control into one processor, the car has been able to significantly reduce the lag time for many of the car’s inputs and changes to suspension, steering and power inputs. Many of these individual inputs and processes can traditionally come with a lag time as long as 10 to 20 milliseconds. With this new supercomputer, this has been reduced to as little as 1 millisecond. The result of all of this is a more natural driving feel that is allegedly, helping bring back a more analog driving feel.

New Powertrains and Battery Packs

The Neue Klasse X Vision Concept comes with BMW’s 6th generation eDrive powertrain components. The new battery chemistry is one of the most interesting aspects of the Neue Klasse X. BMW announced they have significantly reduced the amount of cobalt within the battery. Typically, cobalt is one of components within a lithium-ion battery that helps with energy density and thermal stability. This helps enhance charging speeds and allows for batteries to be more dense.

However, by increasing the amount of nickel and silicon within the battery chemistry, this has allowed the batteries to be 30% more power dense with regards to range, 30% faster charging for DC fast charging compared to current BMW 5th generation EV technology, 50% cheaper to manufacture and 20% lighter. The fact these batteries are both better and still more sustainable is quite an achievement in it’s own right. Beyond just being better for the environment, reduction in rare earth metals can help prevent supply chain disruptions and the decreased cost can be passed on to the consumer to make these cars more competitive in the market place.

What’s Next? BMW iX3

The new retro design, the upgraded tech and innovative new interior design showcase a compelling package that is a promising sign for the future of BMW. The styling cues from BMW’s most iconic designs in conjunction with cutting edge technology are a wonderful combination that if we see implemented in the new electric X3 (iX3), I think they stand to be one of the best electric SUV offerings in the near future. While changes will be made, generally the vision concepts represent a fairly close depiction of what we will soon see.