BMW needs you to get excited about Vision M Next, a flashy concept making its debut in Munich. Just as early Tesla fanatics bought Roadsters and paved the way for more sensible versions of that brand’s technology, interest garnered by a gullwing-doored, shockingly quick sports car with Thrilling Orange accents could make the cutting-edge tech featured in the more humble iNext concept more palatable.
Turning the future of the car into something desirable and sexy is important for automakers including BMW. So the Vision M Next takes things a step or three farther than the brand’s existing green halo, the i8. BMW says the iNext and Vision M Next exemplify its two foundational themes: Ease (the car will drive for you) and Boost (driving fun).
Not many autonomous concepts look like the M Next does, so we’ll start with what you really want to know. The Vision M Next produces 600 horsepower, but it’s not from a twin-turbo V-8, as in the mighty new 2020 M8 (the Competition model makes 617 hp). The futuristic concept’s 600 hp comes from its extended-range plug-in hybrid system, which includes a gas-powered four-cylinder engine yet has an estimated 62-mile EV range before the engine kicks in and continues the journey outside a zero-emissions zone such as London. Acceleration to 62 mph comes in just 3.0 seconds, like the automaker’s M8 estimate, though we look forward to testing both claims if BMW ever makes the Vision M Next. For now, we’ll have to take its word that the concept can hit a theoretical 186 mph and, thanks to its “Power PHEV” powertrain, can switch from electric all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive—though we look forward to seeing how well such a complex powertrain would work in a production car.
Although we’re not yet sold about the concept’s headlight-to-grille visual space ratio, the Laser Wire lighting tech making those slim headlights possible sounds intriguing (glass fibers are coated with phosphorous).