At times, they might throw a special unit out in the wild that will have little to no chance of becoming popular enough to offset all the costs associated with making and selling it. They are called "halo cars" for a reason. Although pretty unpopular, the i8 was such a vehicle. BMW wanted to show that combining a small fossil fuel-powered engine with a motor and a small battery can result in a dynamic and sexy car that doesn't stray too far away from the ethos of the brand.
Sadly, the 1.5-liter powerplant and a hefty price tag didn't allow the i8 to truly shine. It'll be a collector's item in a couple of years. For now, however, most feel that it was a failed experiment.
But that car and the i3 previewed what the Bavarians were capable of when their engineers were allowed to have some fun and the iconic automaker dared to depart from the norm. A more recent preview of what the automaker planned for its customers was shown four years ago. The Vision iNEXT, for example, became the iX.
A new way forwardToday, anyone can see just how brave BMW is with the design language it debuted on the M3 (G80) and M4 (G82), the refreshed X7, and the brand-new 7 Series.
However, BMW's future is in the hands of the "Neue Klasse" now. The first clue that the Bavarians were getting ready for something exciting came late last year through an interesting social media campaign that turned BMW into "DeeMW." Later, the i Vision Dee was shown to the public, which was an evolved version of the I Vision Circular, another concept.
Now, the Vision Neue Klasse is yet another concept that previews the next 3 Series. This time, it's not just a dart thrown in the dark. The concept vehicle has a revolutionary interior that's greatly simplified and minimalistic. You won't even see stalks on it, let alone a gear shifter or a volume knob. The physical A/C controls are gone too, just like on the iDrive 8.
Pair the Vision Neue Klasse images with the i Vision Dee, and what we get is a car that has a clean dashboard with fewer controls and a smart assistant that could allow owners of the next-gen 3 Series to control the car's features by just talking.
The implementation may look too much like what Tesla did with its facelifted Model 3, but BMW is a luxury automaker. As such, it cannot just allow itself to be heavily inspired by the Texas-based brand without adding some stuff of its own.
While the infotainment has some cool tricks that allow the driver to interact better with the car, the most important thing is how the center screen works in tandem with the head-up display that covers the entire bottom portion of the windshield. You can see through it, don't worry.
For example, certain functions (like phone calls or track times) can be moved from the touchscreen to the windshield. All it takes is a special gesture - put two fingers on the screen and swipe up. Decluttering the only display available is great. Not having to move your eyes to the middle of the dashboard all the time is also useful.
Packed with great featuresBMW partners are also testing the rectangular screen. The brand wants to bring more third-party content to its users. That could mean games, movies, shopping, or watching live TV. Again, this is Tesla's MO. Shopping, however, is also a Mercedes-Benz thing.
But the coolest feature BMW should implement ASAP even on its existing models is the ability to put the navigation on the windshield. That enhances safety because you won't ever have to take your eyes off the road.
That's an issue some Model 3 and Model Y owners complain about. Important details like their traveling speed are not always easily visible. Couple it with augmented reality (AR), and that solution will most likely become a must-have for tech enthusiasts.
The next-gen iDrive is still in its early days. Still, it showcases that BMW is adopting a Tesla-like strategy for its future interiors while making everything infotainment-wise more interesting and intuitive.
Finally, BMW Vice-president Stephan Durach confirmed that what you'll see in the video below will end up on future production-ready models. A polished version of the next-gen iDrive will be showcased next year. Fingers crossed, maybe we'll see it live at CES 2024!