BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept offers a look at future 3 Series …
Back in 1962 the BMW Neue Klasse was a saloon car tasked with reviving the fortunes of the German brand. Fast forward 60 years, and BMW has launched the Vision Neue Klasse, a concept car that is said to represent the start of a new all-electric era for the company, the results of which could be seen in production by as early as 2025.
Revealed ahead of the Munich motor show, the BMW Vision Neue Klasse is a compact four-door saloon study that, according to BMW chairman Oliver Zipse, “combines BMW’s ability to innovate in the core areas of electrification, digitalisation and circularity.”
The Vision Neue Klasse is said to be an early glimpse at the next-generation 3 Series, but its simplified shape with the bare minimum of lines across its large surfaces gives clues as to the design direction for the entire BMW line-up. The details that have been incorporated include wide wheelarches filled with 21-inch wheels and a new kidney grille design using a horizontal profile within the protruding ‘shark’ style nose. This features a stylised twin headlight design as part of a front fascia that will help the Neue Klasse ‘interact’ with other road users, while BMW’s trademark Hofmeister kink has been incorporated into the side windows at the C-pillars.
New generation of iDrive infotainment
Inside, the cabin is equally minimalist in appearance. The cockpit previews the next generation of BMW’s iDrive control system, which includes ‘Panoramic Vision’, a new wraparound head-up display system that shows information across the width of the windscreen within the driver’s line of sight. Interactive controls mean that information can be moved from the Panoramic Vision display to the central touchscreen and back, while conventional head-up information can be projected in front of the driver.
The light-coloured materials inside are certain to be replaced by more conventional colours in a future production model, but the flattened steering wheel and backlit central touchscreen are expected to make production. The front seats are mounted on a single bracket, which frees up space for legroom in the back, while the Neue Klasse has a four-seat layout for added comfort and space to stretch out.
Secondary and recycled materials throughout
Sustainability is a big buzzword at BMW, and the concept features plenty of recycled and renewable materials. The car itself will be built using as many secondary and recycled materials as possible at BMW’s new plant in Hungary, a factory which doesn’t use fossil fuels for power, while the lack of chrome or leather in the car’s cabin helps to reduce its carbon footprint further.
BMW has aimed to make the Neue Klasse more efficient than any electric BMW concept or production car before. Aerodynamics, kerb weight and rolling resistance have all been optimised, while the eDrive powertrain is claimed to feature efficient electric motors and new batteries with 20 per cent higher energy density, so they pack more energy into the same weight. Charging speeds are claimed to be faster by up to 30 per cent, as is battery range, although no absolute figures for battery size, range or efficiency have been quoted for the concept.
The production version of the Vision Neue Klasse should make an appearance in 2025, when it arrives as the replacement for the 3 Series saloon. According to head of BMW design, Adrian van Hooydonk, “the design of the Neue Klasse is typically BMW and so progressive it looks like we have skipped a model generation.”