Revealed: the BMW ‘Vision Next 100’ concept
BMW celebrates 100 years this week. Here’s the car that’ll lead the party
BMW’s vision for the next 100 years is a sporting saloon. Not an SUV, not a hypercar, not a nuclear-powered flying car. Sports saloons are, says Adrian von Hooydonk, ‘the core’ of BMW.
But the BMW Vision Next 100, to give the car its full name, is also autonomous, shape-shifting and powered by something they won’t name.
Just like the i8 Spider revealed at CES in January, it has two modes. You drive or it drives.
But even when you’re driving, you’re in ‘boost mode’ – boosted into a hero driver. Augmented-reality guides you, projecting the ideal steering line and speed onto the windscreen.
The augmented-reality display will also project hidden hazards into your field of view. BMW’s example is a cyclist obscured by a truck. An image of the cyclist is projected onto your windscreen, making the truck magically semi-transparent.
If even that is all too difficult, or you have other things to do, switch to ‘ease mode’. The steering quadrant folds away and the chairs swivel around so you can kick back and get on with life.
Now, this shape-shifting business – or ‘alive geometry’ as van Hooydonk calls it. The armadillo-scales triangles on the dash let the car warn you, almost subliminally, of upcoming hazards by opening to reveal their red flipsides.
The external bodywork wears more of the same triangular motif. The wheels are faired in, so when the front ones turn to steer, the bodywork stretches to accommodate them. At the back of the car, the profile lengthens with speed, cutting aero drag.
At the front, the kidney grille is present and correct, but van Hooydonk points out it isn’t needed as an air intake – a clue that there’s no straight-six behind there. Instead they have re-purposed the grille as a porthole for all the sensors the car needs to drive autonomously.
“If you can imagine the future, you’ve made the first step,” says AvH. He’s imagined something pretty, don’t you think. But the future? Thoughts below, please.