From a distance it looks just like a regular soccermom-mobile. But the car that BMW put center stage this morning at the Geneva auto show represents the German automaker's vision for fuel-efficient technologies over the next few years. The car is powered by a diesel-electric version of BMW's Adaptive Hybrid system, comprising a four-cylinder variable twin-turbo combustion engine mated to a 15 kilowatt electric motor driven by a lithium ion battery pack. BMW says that this is the first diesel engine in the world achieve an output greater than 100 horsepower per liter.
Also a first for a German manufacturer is the car's new ZF eight-speed transmission, which should send Lexus engineers back to the drawing board. Other energy saving features of the car include special aerodynamic rims and a solar roof, which transfers the sun's heat to the car's transmission fluid. So what does it all mean? Well, BMW says that this full-size vehicle can achieve 6.5 liters per 100 kilometer--just a bit more than 43 mpg. While we don't expect solar panels on our next 3-series review car, BMW says that step-by-step, elements of this design concept will be applied across its model range in the next few years.