Yes, of course the BMW Vision M Next is only a concept car, one the automaker is using to gauge consumer and press reaction to this specific idea of a two-seat, plug-in-hybrid sports car. Yet the BMW i8 extended-range EV has been on the market since 2014 and probably has a total shelf life of not more than 10 years. While BMW Group Design Director Adrian von Hooydonk declined to give details on the size of the Vision M Next, or even say whether or not it’s about the same size as the i8, it sure looks like a potential replacement.
If you read our debut story, you already know the BMW Vision M Next combines a 600-hp four-cylinder engine of unknown aspiration or displacement—our money is on 2.0 liters, as BMW is all-in on modular, 500-cc cylinder design—with equally undetailed front electric motors that deliver rear- or all-wheel drive. Whatever the powertrain’s specs, BMW says it’s good for a 3.0-second zero-to-62-mph time, a 186-mph top speed, and 62 miles of pure electric range. You know that its Hofmeister kink is sculpted in the bodyside instead of the window trim, and that it has classic, M1-style three-piece glass rear louvers with side vents below. Oh, and phosphorus-coated laser-wire lighting technology to create the slim headlamps.
It was presented as BMW Next’s “Boost” car, in contrast to its “Ease” car, the iNext battery-electric SUV already confirmed for production in 2021. Here are more details we gleaned from BMW’s program in its hometown:
It looks like a minimalist replacement for the i8. “By leaving a lot of things off, details become more important,” von Hooydonk says. The nose, the doors and the silhouette pay homage to the i8, while the roofline and rear deck eschew the current car’s elaborate floating, raked c-pillar and the curved taillamps. In fact, it’s not just the rear glass louvers and side vents that recall the vaunted M1, but also the Vision M’s C-pillar.
Don’t miss the BMW roundel in the taillamps. It’s another cue from BMW’s first mid-engine sports car, the M1. “The rear quarter view is my favorite,” the design chief adds.
But the design is not specifically retro. “We’re not looking to do a direct reference to the M1,” von Hooydonk says. “The M1 and i8 both played a significant role in our design history.”
The prominent ‘3D’ grille has no chrome. In fact, there’s no chrome on the entire M Vision Next. This is an M car after all, not an i car, BMW’s hybrid/electric sub-brand established with the i8 and i3.
The paint color is called “Electric Orange.” It’s used to highlight the sections of the car where the engine and motors are placed, the front and the middle. Also, you’ll notice the Electric Orange rear wheels. A “blocking” technology was used to apply the contrasting silver and orange paint to the concept, which was rendered in carbon-fiber and fiberglass, but represents a car that would have a full recycled carbon-fiber body.
About those rear wheels . . . The Electric Orange fillers in the rear wheels are for low drag. Of course, BMW couldn’t do the same for the front wheels because the front brakes require far more cooling.
About those deep blue seats . . . They’re memory-foam units “that fit like a glove,” according to a BMW designer. They do have headrests, which are hard to see without peeking inside.
The instrument cluster has three layers. As noted in our debut story on the BMW M Vision Next, the instruments are designed to minimize as the car’s speed increases. The faster you go, the smaller the instruments’ display gets. The Layer 1 display, for highest speeds, is only what’s shown on the steering wheel. Layer 2 is on the curved glass on the IP, and Layer 3 adds the windshield head-up display.
It doesn’t drive itself, but it can. At least in theory. If and when the BMW M Vision Next becomes a production car, it would come with the German luxury marque’s latest driver-assistance technology, under the belief that even enthusiasts don’t like driving long, straight sections of Interstate 80 through Nebraska or in stop-and-go traffic on the San Diego Freeway.
We predict a 2023 BMW Mi8. BMW confirmed at the concept’s launch event that the M brand will go hybrid in the near future, and its management board chairman, Harald Krüger also said that the automaker is pulling up its promise to offer 25 electrified models by two years, to 2023. Most of those will be current and new models already in the product plan on architecture that can add a hybrid powerplant.
M brand will go beyond PHEV. The M brand will someday go full battery-electric, van Hooydonk said. Not a big surprise, considering a new Tesla sports car allegedly on the way, and Hyundai’s stunning Essentia EV coupe—our Concept of the Year—expected in calendar ’21.
But wait, there’s one more concept. Krüger promised two concepts when he opened the press conference. There was a Bimmer, the M Vision Next sports car, and a Beemer, the electric BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster. We don’t usually cover motorcycles, but here’s a photo anyway: