First Look: BMW Vision ConnectedDrive Concept

The rumors of a baby BMW roadster appearing at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show appear to be true — albeit the topless two-seat runabout shown here — officially known as the Vision ConnectedDrive — is only a concept at this time.

BMW hasn’t released any powertrain specifications or mechanical details — that’s not surprising, as the ConnectedDrive is purely meant to push the boundaries of design, particularly when it comes to the human-machine interface (HMI). According to the Bavarian automaker, the concept “extrapolates the principle of intelligent networking of drive, vehicle, and the outside world.” Roughly translated, there’s some fanciful technology packed into the interior.

The ConnectedDrive’s cabin design is remarkably simplistic, consisting largely of a single gauge binnacle, a shifter and iDrive controller on the center console, and a sweeping dashboard. This design is largely possibly by adopting an advanced 3-D heads-up display, which can arrange information — including navigation directions — into the foreground and background, depending on the importance. A secondary display, located above the steering column, appears to house secondary information, including GPS maps, gear selection, and other items.

Passengers aren’t excluded from the fanciful technology — a third display, incorporated into the upper surface of the dashboard itself, is designed to allow the front-seat occupant to serve as a co-pilot. Passengers can research and plan trips from the comfort of their own seat; any modifications made are then applied to the driver’s navigational display. Additionally, passengers are able to play with the so-called Emotional Browser, which allegedly “captures and filters additional information about the vehicle’s environment, including people, mood, or location.” The color and pattern of LED light pipes flowing throughout the interior and exterior can be adjusted to suit, allowing the car to become a four-wheeled mood ring.

Although that feature may be more playful than prescient, the Vision ConnectedDrive may be rather rooted in reality. BMW may or may not be looking at adding a sub-Z4 roadster to its portfolio (particularly one with Z1-style sliding doors), but we hear a number of design cues — particularly the front fascia and the L-shaped tail lights — are precursors to design cues that will appear in future BMW models. Even the cabin’s technological highlights — including the fanciful 3-D HUD — are already being pursued by several automakers for use in production vehicles. BMW suggests a similar display could potentially be incorporated into its future electric models, including the MegaCity commuter car and the i8 sports coupe.


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