In future, drivers will be able to choose whether they wish to be driven or do the driving themselves. With the BMW Vision M NEXT, the BMW Group is revealing its take on how driving pleasure might look in future for those who enjoy taking the wheel themselves. It offers a foretaste of the BMW M brand’s electrified future by placing the focus squarely on the actively engaged driver. Intelligent technologies on board provide comprehensive yet carefully targeted assistance to turn them into the ultimate driver.
Hosting the exclusive world premiere of the BMW Vision M NEXT is the new #NEXTGen infotainment platform at BMW Welt. This standalone event concentrating on personal mobility solutions “made by the BMW Group” adds another regular fixture to the calendar of car shows / technology & future-focused trade events around the world which the company already attends. The Group’s latest technological advances in the fields of design, autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification and services will be showcased here, alongside spectacular world premieres such as that of 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.”
The EASE and BOOST experience concepts.
The BMW Vision iNEXT and BMW Vision M NEXT Vision Vehicles represent prototype versions of BMW’s future experience concepts “EASE” and “BOOST”. EASE encompasses all the experiences during a journey when the vehicle assumes the task of driving. Here, the vehicle is transformed into a living space on four wheels, where the passengers can feel safe and secure. From rest and relaxation, via talking, interacting and enjoying in-car entertainment, all the way to maximum concentration – the experiences on offer with the EASE concept are as varied as the occupants’ needs. BOOST, meanwhile, stands for the ultimate active driving experience. The EASE and BOOST concepts are underpinned in equal measure by the building blocks for the BMW Group’s future, comprising the innovation areas of Autonomous driving, Connectivity, Electrification and Services (ACES). The Design lends these areas visual expression and makes the underlying technology something you can engage with (D+ACES).
Exterior exudes BMW sports-car DNA.
“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,” says Domagoj Dukec, Vice President BMW Design. The emotion-stirring exterior design clearly announces the BMW Vision Vehicle’s performance potential, borrowing styling cues from both classic and contemporary BMW sports cars in the process. The BMW Vision M NEXT draws its inspiration from the iconic BMW Turbo and groundbreaking BMW i8 plug-in hybrid and adopts a future-focused interpretation of design elements such as the low-slung, wedge-shaped silhouette, gullwing doors and striking colour scheme. The unmistakable sports-car proportions are composed of surfaces characterised by clarity and pared-down styling. The front and rear ends are finished in the matt-neon shade Thrilling Orange, producing a vivid contrast against the exterior’s otherwise silk-matt Cast Silver metallic paintwork. This use of colour blocking gives the Vision Vehicle an added air of modernity and emphasises its inherent dynamism.
The actual driving experience in the BMW Vision M NEXT is every bit as captivating as its exterior looks. The Power PHEV drive system in offers the choice between electric all-wheel drive and pure rear-wheel drive, with either all-electric propulsion or the power of a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. System output of 441 kW (600 hp) produces a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) and enables the BMW Vision M NEXT to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just three seconds. There is also a BOOST+ mode that puts extra power on tap at the push of a button. The maximum range when driving in all-electric mode is 100 km (62 miles) – more than enough to complete the majority of journeys purely on electric power. This means the BMW Vision M NEXT is a sports car that would also be suitable for use in city centres where zero-emissions zones may come into force in the future.
Incorporating a modern take on classic design icons: the front end.
The expressive front-end design serves up a confident and modern interpretation of classic BMW icons. The signature BMW kidney grille is flanked on either side by triangular elements in Thrilling Orange, which serve to accentuate the air intakes at the sides and the integral headlights. These elements combine with the blade-shaped air intake below the kidney grille to create a cutting-edge racing aesthetic.
The soft outer curves of the kidney grille openings are reminiscent of a turbine’s air intake and give the front end added dynamic impact, while the colour gradient used for the inside of the two kidney elements creates a sense of depth. The grille openings are each blanked off by a transparent layer with a laser-etched, illuminated pattern that seems to be floating inside – a highly sophisticated touch that gives added emphasis to this section of the car.
The BMW Vision M NEXT headlights are positioned on the outer edges of the front end, higher up than the kidney grille. Arranged one above the other rather than side by side, their constituent elements represent a highly distinctive interpretation of BMW’s classic four-eyed front end. The headlights hand a debut to Laser Wire lighting technology, whereby glass fibres coated with phosphorous are used to produce headlight elements with a new, super-slim and extremely precise form. All of which further underscores the Vision Vehicle’s future-focused character.
Trailblazing dynamism: the flanks.
The low-slung, wedge-shaped sports-car silhouette of the BMW Vision M NEXT, the reward climb of its flank lines and the diagonal splash of contrasting orange colour endow it with dramatic forward-surging intent, even when standing still. The black side skirts made from recycled carbon fibre make the car look even lower on the road. The sports-car silhouette frames a small number of crisp lines running along the clearly sculpted surfaces. The lines of the powerfully contoured shoulders are also used to create the effect of the iconic Hofmeister kink, instead of incorporating it into the window graphic in the usual BMW fashion. The design is broken up by a gill-like aperture that narrows as it sweeps back from the window surface towards the tail, giving the car a more elongated appearance. A second look reveals another highlight in the form of the Air Flow. This opening located just in front of the rear wheels is designed to carefully channel the onrushing air towards the rear end in a way that further improves aerodynamics.
Precisely engineered gaps in the wheels’ intricate, three-dimensiona
l multi-spoke design result in low weight, maximum rigidity and reduced drag and so optimise the transfer of power to the road. The spokes’ open, three-dimensional architecture maximises cooling of the large brake discs at the front, while inserts optimise aero efficiency at the rear. The rear wheels on the BMW Vision M NEXT measure 22 inches in diameter, making them one inch larger than the front wheels (21 inches) and further emphasising the car’s wedge-shaped appearance.
Low-slung, broad and extremely dynamic: the rear end.
The broad, low-slung rear end makes a stylistic statement with its distinctly sporty tone. Its colour scheme divides the car’s sculptural tail into two sections. The top section in Thrilling Orange creates a visual link between the coloured areas of the flanks, further adding to the impression of width. The area below it is made from recycled carbon fibre and incorporates an aerodynamically optimised diffuser. The design of the rear window takes its cue from the BMW M1. The three-piece louvres are made from glass and emphasise the horizontal focus of the rear-end styling.
The rear lights feature the same Laser Wire technology used for the headlights. Their glass lenses frame the rear end in a sweeping flourish on either side, bringing its width and sporting presence to the fore. Inside each light unit, a single wafer-thin glass fibre produces an abstract ECG trace of a heartbeat fashioned with pin-sharp precision. The two-dimensional reinterpretation of the distinctive pair of BMW roundels from the BMW Turbo and BMW M1 – a gift to BMW aficionados – gives them the impression of floating in the rear lights’ transparent lenses.
Focusing on the driver: the interior.
Facial recognition technology allows the car to unlock automatically as the driver approaches. Pressing the touch sensor on the gullwing doors prompts them to swing open, revealing a cabin that merges the driver and vehicle into one. The classy, minimalist interior revolves entirely around the actively engaged driver, both stylistically and technologically. The interior appears as if cut from a single mould, with functional elements such as the air vents integrated almost out of sight. Its geometry is deliberately restrained in nature so the driver can devote their attention entirely to the driving experience. The seat shells form part of a seat sculpture with a flowing design. They are upholstered in a foam material with shape memory properties that moulds itself to, cushions and supports the body to optimum effect. The head restraints seem to hover above both seat shells, increasing the sense of lightness. The extremely comfortable seating position immerses the driver in the driving experience.
Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel: the BOOST Pod.
“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. Taking pride of place in the interior, the BOOST Pod forms the interface between driver and vehicle. It brings together all the control options and information across three distinct visual tiers in the driver’s direct field of view. The first plane is formed by the horizontally arranged steering wheel featuring two small displays. Following this in the driver’s line of sight is a Curved Glass Display, a new addition whose transparent surface stretches around the steering wheel like a visor. The full-surface Augmented Reality Head-Up Display in the windscreen constitutes the third plane. Everything therefore happens directly in the driver’s line of sight. The driving settings can be modified on the steering wheel, while information such as revs, road speed, energy management, the driver’s heart rate and availability of BOOST+ mode is spread among a total of five clusters in the Curved Glass Display behind. BOOST+ mode can be engaged at the touch of a button to release extra power. The car alerts the driver when the ideal moment arrives to activate BOOST+.
Taking driver focus to the next level: focus logic.
“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,” continues Dukec.
The BMW Vision M NEXT therefore shows the way ahead for BMW’s fabled driver focus. The cabin’s geometry and technology have both been devised to help focus attention on the task of driving and prevent distractions. To this end, the information displayed is adapted to the current speed – based on the principles of focus logic. As the vehicle speeds up, the information centres increasingly on driving-related data and moves into the driver’s eye-line. It is possible to communicate with the Intelligent Personal Assistant at all times while driving – if drivers wish to book the visionary Valet Parking Service for their destination, for instance. Here, a concierge is on hand when they arrive to take the vehicle, park it and bring it back again at the desired time. All done simply and seamlessly using the MyBMW App.
Innovative materials for a luxurious ambience and optimum performance.
“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. The pioneering mix of materials employed in the BMW Vision M NEXT, including woven synthetic fibres, anodised titanium and painted surfaces, has never been seen before in a vehicle in this form, which is why it brings out the car’s character to such stunning effect. Use of leather has been kept deliberately to a minimum, which is why it only adorns the design details that the driver’s and passenger’s hands touch directly, such as the steering wheel and door pull handles. Instead, the interior is dominated by a Midnight Blue microfibre fabric whose look and feel are akin to leather, but is also highly distinctive. Judicious use of Thrilling Orange contrasts injects additional sporting flair.
A particularly striking touch here is the accent line in the driver’s area that runs forwards from the seat over the BOOST Pod, indicating the ideal line of sight over the road. A light element in the BOOST Pod further strengthens this line.
The metallic surfaces in Titanium Bronze have a warm, shimmering tone, adding to the exclusive ambience in the car’s interior. Neat design touches such as the barely visible pockets in the door and centre console allow everyday essentials to remain securely stowed away even when cornering at high speed. The gyroscopic cupholder is able to compensate for strong lateral and longitudinal dynamic forces. A glance upwards reveals both the visible roof structure made from recycled carbon fibre and the headliner, whose tone-in-tone paint finish with mild sheen effect blends in perfectly with the rest of the interior’s colour scheme.
The past and future of dynamic driving.
With its enthralling blend of design and driving experience, the BMW Vision M NEXT fuses BMW’s sporting heritage with the possibilities of tomorrow’s world, and illustrates how the D+ACES building blocks for the future will be able to enhance how the driver experiences a car’s dynamics.
**many thanks to BMW for the text and images**