The BMW Vision M Concept has been revealed today boasting a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and two electric motors making 442kW, all-wheel drive and only two-seats…

UPDATED BMW has built its most alluring concept car for ages, the Vision M Next. Assuming you find a 442kW all-wheel-drive mid-engined two-seat orange-striped projectile alluring.

BMW Vision M Concept

It was unveiled at a BMW future-tech event today, surrounded by exhibits about autonomous driving and electric power. So yes it has elements of those things, but it’s also a proper bearer of the M name. Or it would be if they actually manufactured the thing. Ah well. We can dream.

BMW Vision M Concept

All that power comes from a turbo four-cylinder engine, and also a pair of electric motors one for each axle. It can run in hybrid mode, or, for 100km, under electric power alone using energy stored in its plug-in batteries. So it’s capable of pure electric all-wheel drive. But harness all the horses and they’re saying it’ll do 0-100km/h in three seconds flat, and go on to 300km/h.

The cabin looks deliberately simple, but the tech isn’t. For a start, to keep things dry in busy cornering it’s got gyroscopic cupholders. We’re liking that thinking.

BMW Vision M Concept

Attaching to the skeletal metal steering column, beyond the dragster-style butterfly steering wheel, is a trio of curved glass panes. They carry all normal instruments and infotainment, and climate settings. Oh and your heart-rate monitor.

But the real trick is the assisted-driving Boost + mode. This isn’t your normal semi-autonomous driving, where the car takes the load and you zone out. Instead, the systems calculate the best cornering lines and braking points for the road ahead, then project them as augmented reality onto the windscreen as if they were painted on the road. It’s like your driving coach.

The outside shape plays on the 1972 Turbo show car, and the rare 1978-81 M1 supercar, as well as today’s i8.

BMW Vision M Concept

It has pinpoint-small laser-wire head- and tail-lights. These use glass fibres coated in electroluminescent phosphorus to produce the light. At the rear the designers have also had a bit of fun, using them to light up BMW logos and an ECG-like trace. Intricate patterns play 3d shapes in the front grille too, which is laser-etched.

The black sills and rear diffuser are made of up-cycled carbon-fibre. Slot air intakes give definition to the car’s flanks, and the upper intake has the Hofmeister kink in its outline, so it’s not actually in glazing any more. The opening just ahead of the rear wheels channels air cleanly toward the car’s tail.

BMW Vision M Concept

Adrian Van Hooydonk, BMW Group design director, told me, “This is a vision which I hope one day will turn into reality.” The Group’s director of R&D Klaus Fröhlich adds, “We deliver what we promise. I have persuaded my finance chief to support the project.” As soon as he’d said that his PR tried to say this wasn’t a commitment to build the car, but these two executives are giving the heaviest possible hints that a car not unlike this will go into production. 

Shortly after I met someone who does know the plan, and told me, off-record, it will be built. “It won’t be exactly like this [the Vision M Next]. But remember how the Vision EfficientDynamics turned into the i8.”


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About Author

Paul Horrell

Paul's working life has been paced out in cars. He began road-testing when the VW Golf was in its second generation. It's now in its eighth. He covers much more than the tyre-smoking part of the road-test landscape. He roots around in the financial machinations of the car corporations and the apparent voodoo of the technologies. Then he clarifies those complications so his general readers – too busy to lodge their heads up the industry's nether regions – get the fast track on what matters and what doesn't. A freelance writer living in London, he usually gets around the city by bicycle, which adds to his (sometimes justified) reputation as a bit green and a bit of a lefty. He's a member of Europe's Car of the Year jury.

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