New BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept previews future 3 Series saloon
The BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept showcases a new platform and design direction that’s set to feature on the next-generation 3 Series
Say hello to the next BMW 3 Series – in concept form, at least. While BMW isn't saying so explicitly, this new Vision Neue Klasse concept is a technology and design showcase of what's coming from the brand in the future, with a production-ready model based on the German firm's new Neue Klasse platform set to go into production from 2025 as an all-electric 3 Series-sized saloon car.
The concept's look is an evolution of the i Vision Dee show car that made its debut at CES 2023 and it features a similar design approach and technology. The Vision Neue Klasse is a low, wide machine that uses 'phygital' icons for BMW's latest interpretation of its traditional kidney grille and its trademark double headlights.
Using E-Ink technology, these can display animations and other messages, with an evolution of the tech for the Vision Neue Klasse featuring 3D capability to give the panels the appearance of depth.
E-Ink panels are also present below the side window glass, allowing for digital depictions of other classic BMW design features, such as the Hofmeister kink, while lower down on the bodywork the gloss black areas on the base of the bumpers and the side skirts are made from recycled materials.
The shark nose front is balanced by a squared-off rear end, with the Vision Neue Klasse's saloon's classic three-box design and proportions “so progressive it looks like we skipped a model generation”, according to head of BMW Group design, Adrian van Hooydonk. The car's 21-inch aerodynamic wheels are inspired by BMW's classic motorsport cross-spoke design.
BMW has already confirmed that its new models will feature full-width digital display technology fitted as standard from the middle of the decade, and the Vision Neue Klasse gives us an idea of how this could look and work.
The iDrive system is based around BMW's new Panoramic Vision full-width display, which is projected onto the base of the car's windscreen. This strip at the bottom of the glass is where most of the car's information is displayed; there's also a large central touchscreen, with the option to 'send' widgets to and remove them from the Panoramic Vision display with a simple swipe gesture.
The Vision Neue Klasse's infotainment is rounded out by a new 3D Head-up Display, which projects key info onto the screen in the driver's field of view for “eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” driving, according to BMW, while the firm's latest Personal Assistant tech rounds out the on-board offering.
The Panoramic Vision display is interactive and shows info to both the driver and passenger. Its look changes depending on which of the car's My Modes driving profiles are selected, with the screen also able to be used for gaming and entertainment services, similar to the Theatre Screen function offered currently on the brand's i7.
BMW says its future iDrive system “will feature a reinterpretation of the 2023 iDrive operating logic with the BMW OS 8.5 and OS 9” tech packages as part of a “highly integrated software architecture.”
According to BMW's Oliver Pitrat, project lead when it comes to user interface and experience, the infotainment set-up is relatively close to production spec even on this concept, with the system able to be scaled for different widths of dashboard and windscreen angles with issue.
The result of these technological advances when it comes to the infotainment is a more minimalist look to the dash, with a clean and clear design that offers plenty of room, “transforming the cabin into the next living space” – which is where the in-car gaming and streaming capability will really come into play, it believes.
A wireless smartphone charging cradle and the car's drive selector are the only key features on the car's centre console and dashboard beyond the main screen, while the cabin is trimmed in bright cord fabrics “to create a comfortable atmosphere”. These textiles mean the interior is “completely free of decorative chrome or leather”, improving the car's sustainability credentials.
As well as the advances in visible and interactive tech, the Vision Neue Klasse showcases for the first time BMW's all-new platform that will underpin many of its future EVs from 2025 onwards.
According to the brand's development boss, Frank Weber, the new vehicle architecture and BMW's sixth-generation eDrive powertrain technology allows for “30 per cent more range, 30 per cent faster charging and 25 per cent more efficiency”, thanks in part to newly developed round battery cells that offer more than 20 per cent higher energy density than the prismatic cells used up to this point.
Compared with a similarly sized car that uses BMW's fifth-generation eDrive tech, such as the i4, for a given size of battery such as the 84kWh unit in the eDrive40 model, this would place the Neue Klasse platform's key stats at comfortably more than 450 miles of range with charging speeds of potentially up to 270kW. Full specifications have not been revealed and aren't likely to be until closer to the production model's unveiling in late 2024 or early 2025.
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