The BMW i8 really was like nothing else in the market when it launched back in 2013; even half a dozen years on there isn’t - its combination of mid-engined sports car layout and hybrid parsimony is still a unique one. Now it looks like BMW will aim to revolutionise the sports car market once more, with this Vision M Next concept.
The car is described by the manufacturer as “its take on how driving pleasure might look in future for those who enjoy taking the wheel themselves.” Indeed BMW also believes that this car can make “an actively engaged driver” into “the ultimate driver”, thanks to its extensive raft of technologies that provide “comprehensive yet carefully targeted assistance.” Hmm.
Like the i8, this Vision M uses a combination of combustion and battery power for its motive force; BMW calls the four-cylinder turbo and electric combo a “Power PHEV drive system”. A combined 600hp means 186mph and 0-62mph in three seconds, but it gets better than that: the M Next is driven either as a pure electric, AWD car with 62 miles of range, or as rear-wheel drive, four-cylinder sports car. A ‘BOOST +’ mode “puts extra power on tap at the push of a button.”
Even with a whole host of other BMWs revealed alongside it, the Vision M Next looks incredible in the metal. It’s dramatic yet also compact and viable, a logical evolution of BMW cues that doesn’t appear overly futuristic. There are hints of M1 and M1 Hommage around the rear buttresses and window, there’s drama afforded by gullwing doors and the slender Laser Wire lights, plus innovation as well: the front 21-inch wheels have spokes to cool the brakes, while the rear 22s have inserts to improve aero efficiency. From BMW’s perspective, the Vision M Next design is said to be embodiment of its building blocks for the future: Autonomous driving, Connectivity, Electrification and Services. Or D+ACES. Get used to hearing it. Regardless of the motive, it’s a stunning car – a real achievement given some of BMW’s recent work.
Inside is even more radical; in fact, merely getting in is more radical, the Vision M Next unlocked by facial recognition technology. BMW states that the “classy, minimalist interior revolves entirely around the actively engaged driver”, with all car controls operated through a ‘BOOST Pod’ – the cluster around the wheel, designed to ensure minimum distraction for the driver. The Curved Glass Display aims to act like a visor when not providing vital information, with a full surface Augmented Reality Head-Up Display there in addition. This is the future of “BMW’s fabled driver focus”, the info that’s provided changing as speed increases. Indeed it’s a future that isn’t all that far off, with features already in this concept such as centre console and door pockets for storage as well as a gyroscopic cupholder “able to compensate for strong lateral and longitudinal dynamics forces.”
As for what the future might hold for a car like the Vision M Next, it’s hard to say right now. Officially this car “fuses BMW’s sporting heritage with the possibilities of tomorrow’s world, though it’s also unlike BMW to create concepts that have no bearing on future product – the i8 Roadster was launched only last year, but has its roots in the Vision EfficientDynamics of 2009. Hopefully there won’t be a wait of another decade for this concept to bear production fruit.