The Future of Driving.

Published: March 2020
Video/Photos: Supplied

In the future, drivers will choose whether they want to drive or be driven. That’s the magic of autonomous vehicle technology: it’ll be there when you want it, but when you don’t – when you want to feel the thrill of being in control of the car – you can simply switch it off and take the wheel. While the futuristic BMW Vision iNEXT showed what the autonomous driving experience will feel like, the new BMW Vision M NEXT looks at the other aspect: the future of driving yourself.

 

Again, as in the BMW Vision iNEXT, the focus of the BMW Vision M NEXT is firmly on the people inside the vehicle. It’s a prototype version of BMW’s Ease and Boost experience concepts, where Ease explores the autonomous experience (where the vehicle does the driving) and Boost showcases the ultimate active driving experience.

 
“When the driver interacts with the accelerator pedal, it is not only a mechanical touchpoint, but also a performative element.” – HANS ZIMMER

The BMW Vision M NEXT gives a preview of what the electrified future of the BMW M brand might look like.
The BMW Vision M NEXT is best described as a progressive hybrid sports car with a low-slung, wedge-shaped silhouette, gullwing doors and a striking colour scheme.

Progressive hybrid

The best way to describe the BMW Vision M NEXT is as a progressive hybrid sports car. It takes its styling cues from both classic and contemporary BMW sports cars, with a low-slung, wedge-shaped silhouette, gullwing doors and a striking colour scheme.

 

Under the hood you’ve got a Power PHEV drive system, which offers a choice between electric all-wheel drive and pure rear-wheel drive, with either all-electric propulsion or the power of a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. It’s a sports car, so it’s fast – sprinting from 0 to 100 in just three seconds and hitting a blistering top speed of 300km/h. The maximum range when driving in all-electric mode is 100km, which will zip you into the city centre perfectly, even more so considering zero-emission zones may soon come into force.

Sound of the future

That’s the future of driving… but what will that future sound like? Trust an Academy Award-winning composer to provide the answer. One of the great advantages of electric vehicles is their sound – or their lack of sound. They’re relatively silent, and while that makes for a more pleasant journey, if you’re the type of person who enjoys the purr of a combustion engine (and who doesn’t?) then that silence can create a disconnect between the car and the driver. BMW Group acoustic engineer Renzo Vitale enlisted the help of Hollywood film composer Hans Zimmer to create the sounds of the BMW Vision M NEXT.

 

As Zimmer explains: “When the driver interacts with the accelerator pedal, it is not only a mechanical touchpoint, but also a performative element. Accelerating becomes an experience during which the driver moves through a series of gradually morphing sound textures.”

 

Sound is just one element of the driving experience, but it’s an important one as it deepens your emotional connection to the car you’re driving. The BMW Vision M NEXT is all about that connection. Yes, it’s a prototype – but it’s by no means a cold, concept car.

 

Its sound, its feel, its sports car performance, and its EASE and BOOST experiences are all underpinned by the BMW Group’s broader vision of the driving future, which comprises the innovation areas of Autonomous driving, Connectivity, Electrification and Services (ACES). Add in the bold Design, and you have the next step in the evolution of that vision: D+ACES.