Think hybrids can’t be sporty? BMW’s Vision M Next is here to prove you wrong

As 2020 approaches, BMW’s high-performance M division needs to balance performance and electrification. That’s a tall order; the i8 paves the way, but M believes it can leverage recent and upcoming advancements in electrification technology to make a car that’s cleaner and sportier than anything it builds today. The M Next concept unveiled at BMW’s Munich, Germany, headquarters shows us what the future holds.

Bold and futuristic, the Vision M Next concept wears the traditional short front, long rear proportions of a mid-engined supercar. It’s instantly recognizable as a member of the BMW family when viewed from the front thanks to wide kidney grilles inspired by a turbine’s air intake, but thin LED headlights give it a futuristic, almost robotic look. Out back, roundel emblems positioned on either side of the fascia create a visual link between the company’s newest concept car and the M1, one of its most illustrious past models made between 1978 and 1981.

The Vision M Next unlocks itself automatically as soon as facial recognition technology detects the driver’s presence. Its gullwing doors swing open at the touch of a button, revealing a minimalist, driver-focused interior made with an unusual blend of materials like synthetic fibers and anodized titanium. BMW explained it intentionally used as little leather as possible.

Minimalist doesn’t mean basic, though. BMW placed what it calls a curved glass display right in the driver’s line of sight; it stretches around the steering wheel like a visor to display relevant information about the car its surroundings. Information is also shown on an augmented reality head-up display.

While BMW is investing a significant amount of money into electric technology, the Vision M Next concept argues the gasoline-powered engine won’t completely go away for many decades. It receives a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain made up of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and electric motors. The system delivers 600 horsepower to the four wheels, which is enough for a three-second sprint from zero to 60 mph and a 186-mph top speed. Alternatively, the M Next can travel on electricity alone for about 62 miles. It delivers the best of both worlds, according to BMW.

Officially, the BMW Vision M Next concept is only a design study. It “provides a glimpse into the future of sporty driving,” according to Adrian van Hooydonk, the company’s vice president of design. We wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a preview of M’s long-rumored standalone model, though. If we’re right, expect to see it in showrooms during the early 2020s.

Editors' Recommendations

You may also like...