- BMW’s new Vision Neue Klasse concept previews a new all-electric architecture for the company.
- The car also shows us our best look yet at BMW’s next generation of iDrive infotainment.
- We can expect to see the Neue Klasse platform in production as soon as 2025, likely in the form of an all-electric 3 Series.
The BMW Vision Neue Klasse Concept Shows Us What the Future of Car Tech Looks Like
And the future is coming soon
Concept cars are neat and all, but it's hard not to be disappointed when the eventual production model lacks the cool features and awesome styling that made the preview version so remarkable. (Remember the awesome Ram 1500 Rev concept and the final truck due for production? We still feel burned by that one.)
But every now and then we see a concept that actually leans closer to reality, and such is the case with the BMW Vision Neue Klasse. Consider this your best glimpse yet at what an all-electric 3 Series could look like in 2025, complete with a cutting-edge exterior design and an entirely new take on in-car technology. This could be the biggest reset for BMW in a very long time.
Retro futurism for the win
Now, BMW didn’t outright say that this will be the next 3 Series, but if you put together the puzzle pieces that wouldn’t be a crazy assumption — the first production car to ride on the Neue Klasse platform will be a small electric sedan. Following the sedan will be a compact crossover that could very well be an electric X3.
The design is a huge departure from current models, bringing in a shape that is totally retro in some great ways. The concept is boxy, stout and almost certain to stir up a new generation of BMW opinions. Note the kidney grille, which is now stretched and horizontally oriented. This is a much different take than the beaver-like vertical front end on the current 4 Series. Another detail we hope makes it to production is the logo etched into the body work in place of a plastic applique. It represents just one of the ways that BMW hopes to streamline production to be more efficient and use fewer components.
If the production car maintains the vibe of the Vision concept, the next generation of BMWs could look very different from the ones currently on the road. And for buyers turned off by BMW's current design ethos, that’s probably a very good thing.
iDrive gets an overhaul
Say what you want about BMW design (and we know you will), the company’s in-cabin tech has evolved by leaps and bounds since it debuted the iDrive infotainment system in the mid-2000s. Just like it did with the original center console knob, BMW is trying to pioneer a new direction for infotainment control with the Neue Klasse’s iDrive system. Just like the car itself, the infotainment is still in concept form, but BMW reps were not shy in giving plenty of hints that it’s very close to the real thing. The means what you see here could be on the road in less than two years.
Gone is the double-display setup that occupies most BMWs today. There's no traditional instrument display on the dashboard — like the Tesla Model 3, there's only a single central touchscreen. At least, there only appears to be one screen. The hallmark feature is something BMW calls Panoramic Vision, a narrow display that runs the entirety of the dash and projects onto the lower portion of the windshield.
The essence of the new iDrive is about using the touchscreen to interact with Panoramic Vision. By swiping up, you can send apps from the screen to the windshield, opening up a huge range of possibilities. We only saw brief demonstrations, but it’s easy to see just how much information will be available to driver or passengers at any given time. As for whether or not customers will enjoy a full display on their windshield is another story. It will take some adjustment no doubt, but could be a major transformation in car technology.
The Neue Klasse platform will be a big step forward for BMW in the coming years, and this early look at the next-gen iDrive system has us pondering how consumers will react to the ever-growing wave of car tech.