If you’re worried that the encroachment of electrification and autonomous driving means the simple pleasures of driving a fast car by yourself will soon be a thing of the past, the BMW Vision M Next concept is here to show otherwise.
Looking very much like an updated i8, the M Next ups the ante considerably. Power comes from a four-cylinder turbo motor with a hybrid system that together produce 600hp. That’s over 200hp more than the i8.
There’s an electric motor on both the front and rear axles. BMW claims a battery-only range of 62 miles.
BMW also claims a top speed of 186mph and a 0-62mph time of three seconds. Probably only in a simulation.
You’ll have noticed by now that the M Next doesn’t have door handles. Instead, approach and face recognition open the door as the designated driver walks up to the car.
Drop down through the scissor doors and you’ll find a completely bonkers interior. The dashboard has been designed to keep distractions down to a minimum so the driver stays focused on the road.
The dragster-like steering wheel fronts a minimalist steering column to which is mounted what BMW calls a BOOST pod. It’s a curved glass display that shows all the usual vehicle data and infotainment gubbins, plus a heart rate monitor. The amount of information on display changes depending on which driving mode is being used – the more senior the mode, the less information.
Speaking of which, there is, of course, an autonomous driving mode tagged EASE. BOOST is for driving by yourself, while BOOST+ unlocks all the power the engine and batteries have to give.
The seats are moulded into the chassis tub and made from memory foam, doing away with the need for heavy cushions and adjustment mechanisms.
Then there’s windscreen, which functions as a massive augmented reality device to display navigation instructions and other vital information. It can even project cornering lines and braking points when you’re really on it.
All of which is very impressive, but there is one more feature that makes all the other extremely high tech seem just a bit superfluous: gyroscopically stabilised cupholders.
That’s right, no matter how hard you swing the M Next round a corner, your coffee will stay upright and won’t slosh all over the dashboard. We feel this should be fitted to all cars immediately.
No doubt much of the tech in the M Next will find its way into BMW’s production cars over the next decade or so. Will the next i8 – if there is one – look anything like this? We can but hope.
By Graham King