BMW has presented what it calls “a new era of sheer driving pleasure” in the form of an all-electric crossover.
Called the Vision iNext, it’s actually slated for production – if not quite in this body. Designed as a technological flagship, it’s set to tantalise future buyers with interior luxury and technology rather than the kind of driving pleasure many of us fell in love with BMW for.
It’s built as a fully-autonomous vision of a future that may still never actually happen. It can drive itself (‘Ease’ mode) or be driven by a human (‘Boost’ mode), and it’s that switchable core technology that will form the basis of BMWs in years to come. The company is adamant that its steering wheels are going nowhere yet, despite its apparently wholesale adoption of self-driving tech.
BMW calls the iNext “a mobile environment that enhances quality of life,” using the words “a favourite space in which we can be ourselves and relax.” Sorry, we thought cars already were exactly that. Have we been wrong all this time?
The styling is… let’s say dramatic. From the sides and rear the iNext is fairly handsome. The back end in particular is sharp, futuristic and well proportioned. There are noticeable developments of ‘i’ design cues, like the notches at the top and bottom of the windows, and all’s well on those three sides.
The front needs a bit more work. The kidney grille, now merged into one gigantic shape, has a cool blue outer rim but it’s just too massive to appeal. Flanked by ultra-thin, low-energy LED headlights the blanked-off grille looks even huger. We’d expect the look to be toned down significantly before production.
Inside the concept it feels more like a living space than a car, giving users the chance to activate Ease mode and kick back with a book or work. So-called ‘Shy Tech’ keeps all the displays hidden until called for, so that you’re not distracted by readouts you’re used to monitoring.
Woods, leathers, organic cloths and similar natural materials will, says the German firm, make it a truly relaxing and enjoyable place to relax, further encouraging you to use the autonomous technology. Whether the Vision iNext eventually becomes a future flagship X-car, we’ll have to wait and see.