We’ve already seen BMW’s energy-efficient future teased in Arctic Circle testing of the electric i4 sedan and iNext hatchback-esque SUV, but today the automaker revealed a concept for the less pedestrian end of the spectrum with the Vision M Next supercar. If the aggressively wedged shape gives you a sense of deja vu, allow the words of Cars.com colleague Brian Normile to help: “Oh, so they’re doing an M1.”
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From a design perspective, the parallels with BMW’s famous late-’70s mid-engine icon certainly are apparent from the outsize kidney grille on back. Of particular note in this regard is the “gill-like aperture” of the rear window, also a feature of the 2008 M1 Homage concept. Generally speaking, however, the M Next most obviously resembles BMW’s other mid-engine supercar, the (slightly) less wedged all-electric i8.
Good luck getting your i8 open with just your face, though. With the M Next, facial-recognition software enables the driver to automatically unlock the car as they approach (though from what distance it’s able to discern your unshaven mug was not detailed). Gull-wing doors open into a cabin with an unsurprisingly high-tech, minimalist interior focused entirely on what BMW calls the Boost Pod, which “brings together all the control options and information across three distinct visual tiers in the driver’s direct field of view.” A steering wheel with two small displays, a curved-glass display and an augmented-reality head-up display give the driver more information than they could ever possibly want directly in the way of their view of traffic. BMW calls it a “a deliberate counterpoint” to the Vision iNext’s more egalitarian setup and frames the M Next driving experience as singularly focused.
If that doesn’t make you feel safe as a potential passenger — just think of how lost you can get in those screens! — consider how much power is on tap to forget about while you’re making sense of all that. The hybrid powertrain features a choice between electric all-wheel drive and “pure” rear-wheel drive, with a turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine and electric motor combining to produce 600 system horsepower. BMW says the car is good for a zero-to-62-mph sprint of just 3 seconds and a 186-mph top end; for comparison, the electric i8 has 369 hp on tap and runs to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.
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So, how soon can you expect to see this “purer and more emotionally engaging” driving experience reach your driveway? BMW called the M Next a “foretaste” of the brand’s electric future, and given how long in the tooth the i8 is getting, the possibility of seeing an M Next at your Bimmer dealership sooner than later isn’t out of the question.
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