BMW's striking Vision EfficientDynamics concept is headed for production in late 2012 or early 2013 as a 450-hp, twin-turbocharged halo for the company's new environmental initiative. Theoretically at least, the production car, which may be badged M100 (shown here as an artist's interpretation based on spy photos), has what it takes to eclipse its most serious rivals. Extensive computer simulation suggests that it will outpace the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the Audi R8 5.2, and the Porsche 911 Turbo. Power will likely come from the twin-turbo in-line six that's being cooked up for the next M3 and will be transmitted to the rear wheels via a dual-clutch automatic transmission.
How can such a car be considered at all environmentally sensitive? Well, it will be available in slightly tamer, greener form, tentatively dubbed the i100 ActiveHybrid. More important, though, the new sports car scores green points by sharing its platform and composition with Project i, BMW's ambitious range of minicars. In fact, the i100 and the M100 are a big reason why Project i needed to have a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. By moving the engine as close as possible to the rear wheels, BMW's packaging wizards created something most sports cars cannot offer: two usable, if not quite commodious, rear seats. Access to the second row shouldn't be a major issue, as the production car will feature the gull-wing doors from the 2009 Frankfurt show concept car. To stow a limited quantity of luggage, the top-hinged rear window lifts up. A second cargo receptacle can be found in the nose of the vehicle.
Like other Project i variants, the sports car consists of a carbon-fiber passenger compartment fixed to an aluminum chassis. While the M100 will be rear-wheel drive only, the i100 will feature an electric motor at each wheel, in addition to a smaller gas engine. What that engine will be is still up in the air. The engineers seem to favor a new 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, but top management, fearful that sports car buyers will shy away from such a small powerplant, may still tip the scales in favor of a turbo four-cylinder.