BMW Vision M Next concept reminds us there's room in the future for fun

After all, it wouldn't be an M car if humans didn't get any input.

Ever wondered what a BMW sports car from the future might look like on Mars? Well, here you go.
Steven Ewing/Roadshow

BMW has put out plenty of concepts within its Next family, all of which are meant to preview different ways in which future tech can or will be applied to the automaker's future cars. Some of the concepts have focused on autonomy, but in a big ol' departure from that norm, BMW has finally put together a concept that envisions a future where people will still, you know, drive.

BMW on Tuesday unveiled the Vision M Next concept. This wildly styled sports car concept envisions a future where driving excitement still exists. Much of the talk about future cars has focused on things like electrification and autonomy, and while those are definitely big ideas for the future, this concept doesn't remove human driving from the equation.

There's echoes of BMW's production i8 here, yet the M Next is clearly something new.


From a design standpoint alone, it's pretty obvious that the Vision M Next concept puts driving at the forefront. It looks like the love child of BMW's other Next concepts, with a little bit of i8 sprinkled on top and mixed thoroughly with a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento. It's low, it's wide and there are barely any soft angles. The inclusion of matte-orange elements front and rear is interesting, especially as that color works its way into the design of the rear wheel. And, like any fancy-pants car worth its weight in salt, the doors don't open in a conventional manner. The side skirts are made from recycled carbon fiber, and the headlights and taillights use glass optic fibers coated with phosphorous to create light while remaining impossibly slim.

The interior's design is positively alien. The dashboard is low, sleek and sharp, almost physically so. The seats are actually incorporated into the body, creating an odd, organic shape. The door cards feature integrated pockets for your stuff, and the handles look like they were ripped from a Minority Report attaché. The steering wheel juts out like a plane yoke, and it looks like one, too. The displays are transparent, offering up relevant data front and center, as there's no infotainment system to speak of -- this car is about driving, after all.

The seats look really cool when they're blended into the interior like this. 


The tech inside is equally crazy. Facial recognition unlocks the vehicle as the driver approaching, and a touch sensor allows the door to open. There's an augmented head-up display in the windshield, as well. As the vehicle speeds up, driving information moves closer to the driver's eye to minimize looks away from the road.

Some automakers don't offer up imagined specs for their concept cars, but BMW actually talks about what's hiding under the Vision M Next's skin. It combines a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with electric motors for a net output of 600 horsepower and a top speed of 186 miles per hour, reaching 60 mph in about 3 seconds. It can operate on electricity alone for about 62 miles, but if you want to burn extra battery for the sake of having fun, there's a Boost+ mode that delivers all the power the system can muster.

BMW says that its Next concepts occupy one of two different spaces. Cars like the Vision iNext live in the Ease segment, which is focused on alleviating stress by adding autonomous driving and giving a car's interior a living room-like feel. The Vision M Next, on the other hand, lives in the Boost half, which prioritizes driving above all else. As we've seen, autonomy is going to take its darn sweet time to show up, so creating two distinct buckets like this will likely be how automakers split their offerings in the future. We might all hate traffic, but some of us do still enjoy putting the hammer down from time to time.

Now playing: Watch this: BMW Vision iNext is a crossover concept that wants to...