A new BMW concept shows how self-driving cars from the brand might look in time.
With a turbocharged and hybrid powertrain, the Vision M Next hits 60 in three seconds.
For now, the Vision M Next is only a concept but it does make our imagination run wild.
Admittedly, there are many delicious elements in the BMW Vision M Next concept. For one thing, just look at it! It’s a stylish reinterpretation of past and present BMW vehicles. To be more specific, it’s like the lovechild of a 1972 BMW E25 Turbo Concept and i8 PHEV. The wedge-like design is also a fitting ode to the E26 BMW M1. The ’70s and ’80s are back, and I’m loving it!
However, the one thing that really stands out in the Vision M Next is BMW’s ideas on autonomous driving.
The BMW Vision M Next is an autonomous car, yes. But it’s the type of autonomy where the controls can be overridden by the driver. In short, it’s a concept car worth waiting for and something traditional car lovers can sink their teeth into.
The German manufacturer says all future BMW vehicles will be built utilizing the D+ACES philosophy. This means Design, Autonomous Driving, Electrification, and Services are carefully blended to produce the ultimate driving machine of the future. “The BMW Vision M Next provides a glimpse into the future of sporty driving,” says Adrian Van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design. “It demonstrates how state-of-the-art technology can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging.”
It’s no secret things are shaking up at BMW HQ. The company is now struggling to cope with the onset of fully-electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S and Model X. And I find this unsettling considering BMW was among the first to sell an EV in the form of the i3 in 2013. It seems upper management underestimated the potential of full EVs, and they’re now playing catch up. Turning up last is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, you can use it your own advantage. And if the BMW Vision M Next is any indication, it’s safe to say gearheads, car lovers, and auto enthusiasts can look forward to a bright and enjoyable future.
The Good Kind of Hybrid Power
We already established the BMW Vision M Next is a looker. It has all the elements of a poster car: a retro-delectable, wedge-shaped silhouette, gullwing doors, ridiculous color schemes, and illuminated elements on the kidney grille. The blade-shaped triangular elements on the air intakes remind me of the snout of a Lamborghini Aventador. In short, the BMW Vision M Next is every inch a supercar. But what makes a car super in the purest sense of the word is vast reserves of power. In this regard, the BMW Vision M Next has you covered.
It’s actually a hybrid supercar, but it’s the good kind of hybrid power. The car has a turbo four-cylinder motor and an array of electric motors. BMW didn’t say how many, but with the capability to engage electric all-wheel drive or pure rear-wheel drive, we assume it has no less than two or three electric motors. All told, you have 600 horsepower at your disposal, good for a top speed of 186 mph (300 km/h).
And I mean, wow! I personally don’t like hybrids. I think they’re clunky, too complicated, and extremely dull on the road. But if a hybrid has 600 horsepower and can go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds, I wouldn’t mind having one, most especially if it looks exactly like the BMW Vision M Next.
In the future, what if you have to pass by certain zero-emissions zones? No problem. The Vision M Next has an all-electric range of 62 miles (100 km), which frankly is not enough. However, 62 miles is mostly enough for quick city jaunts, so maybe this isn’t bad at all.
EASE & BOOST Mode
Remember the part about the BMW Vision M Next being an autonomous car? You can engage full-autonomy in EASE mode. Meanwhile, if you want to drive it like how a BMW should be driven, BOOST mode is the way to go.
Easy, right? You can read the newspaper, upload a selfie, or chat with fellow passengers in EASE mode, all while traveling at speed. But if you want to drive, BOOST mode will place you at the helm. This all sounds amazing: being able to enjoy both autonomy and actual driving. I sincerely hope other car makers are looking to what BMW is doing in the Vision M Next. If manufacturers want full autonomy to become a reality, it’s important to give consumers an option on whether or not to drive. We want autonomous cars, but we want to choose when it should do so.
The ultra-minimalist interior in the BMW Vision M Next is a triumph in modern design. The most striking feature is the accent line in the driver’s area. It runs forward from the seat over to the steering wheel. This represents the ideal line of sight as you drive, which speaks highly of BMW’s performance intent.
You’ll find hi-tech woven synthetic fibers, anodized titanium, and painted surfaces in the cabin. Surprisingly, leather is only found in the hand touch points of the steering wheel and door pull handles. The visible roof structure is crafted from recycled carbon fiber while the headliner has a tone-in-tone paint finish.
The highlight of the interior is the Boost Pod, which is BMW future-speak for the Speed Racer-inspired steering wheel and instrument console. Instead of traditional dials or large display screens, all the driving information is projected to an array of glass panels behind the steering wheel. It’s basically like a visor that projects information.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: electric cars are too quiet for their own good. But BMW – who happens to be late in the EV game – has come up with something brilliant. The BMW Vision M Next has its own musical soundtrack penned by no less than Hans Zimmer. The man won an Academy Award for Best Original Musical Score for the movie Lion King in 1995 and has composed music for more than 150 Hollywood films.
It’s safe to assume BMW hired the right man for the job.
Conventional EVs, like the BMW i3, have exterior speakers to alert pedestrians. This is good, but it does nothing to liven up the driving experience. With its own dedicated soundtrack, the BMW Vision M Next won’t end up sounding like a brash muscle car, but at least it won’t sound like an appliance either.
Welcome To The Future
And it’s time to come back to Earth. Sadly, the BMW Vision M Next is just a concept. Yet it shows BMW is moving in the right direction. With that being said, I propose a toast to other car makers taking notice of what the future of driving should really be about. Cheers to the future, lads!
Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.