The BMW Vision iNEXT concept is a semi-autonomous crossover that may preview an upcoming addition to the brand’s “i” range. It further develops ideas that were conceived with the i8 and i3 and does some interesting things with the brand’s design language.
The headlights of the BMW iNext are thin, long, and stretch into the beltline. They have a distinctive pattern to them. The L-shaped indicators are narrow like the headlights. The signature kidney bean grille takes on a new form. Here, the traditional two-piece grille is now one larger component. It doesn’t function like a grille, but it has been repurposed as a housing for the car’s sensors. No longer do the iconic trim details hold any mechanical functionality; instead, they are simply transitioning into a silhouette of their former design.
It has the two-tone bodywork that can be found on the BMW i8 and i3. The BMW iNext badge is placed within a wedge-shaped indention on the hood. Aside from this feature, the hood is flat. The i-brand’s signature blue trim wraps around the outer edges of the grille. Some may think it looks ridiculous. Others, however, are convinced this is the design method of the future. The truth likely lies somewhere in between.
The BMW iNext has a low beltline that gives way to a large daylight opening. The squared-off wheel arches give the car more of a rugged, athletic stance. There are two kinks in the glass that appear around the B-pillar, another reference to the i8. The rearmost part of the roof has a floating effect. This section is painted black, but it seems to blend into the greenhouse from certain angles. The wheels are interesting. The silver part of it presses inward while the black component gives it another dimension. Is all of this too much to stomach?
There’s no denying it looks “cutting-edge,” but where will the iconic BMW styling cues be after the autonomous aftermath has successfully taken over the roads, relegating us to the eternal role of a “backseat driver,” no matter where we’re sitting.
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The tail lights are quite a departure for BMW. They’re razor-thin and lack the typical BMW detailing. A small part of the light extends onto the side profile of the car. The badging is unusually placed at the bottom half of the rear. It lights up the same color as the grille trim.
Where it was once stylish to add faux vents and louvers, LEDs and logic circuits fill in the gaps to create a rolling light show. Vents and louvers are on their way out – the “combustion cycle” of an electric motor requires far less oxygen than their internal-combustion counterparts.
The tailgate opening of the BMW iNext is pretty high. It barely passes the halfway point of the rear. it closely follows a body contour. The rear windshield sinks into the body, which gives the impression of a spoiler. The black outline gives the impression of a rear diffuser. The indicators back here are L-shaped like the ones up front. The windshield seamlessly flows onto the roof and stops just after the spoiler’s joint line. Again, is this too much to accept? The only way to press boldly into the future, is, in fact, to press boldly!
The interior is quite minimalistic. The steering wheel appears to have a typical three-spoke design, but the bottom piece is the only one that actually touches the center portion. BMW installed unique pedals on the floor that are indicated by plus and minus indicators. The driver’s side of the floor has a unique vertical pattern. The screens jut out of the dash, which has a metal trim on the edge. The center console has a pyramid pattern. The interior as a whole has a very light color palette.
Since its inception, we’ve seen a few different iterations floating around; different rims, different trim, different colors – this is a completely different BMW!
Although the BMW Vision iNext concept feels far from a reality, it still has the potential to influence the entire BMW range. Expect to see the headlight detailing and clean interior appointments in future products.
Even if it’s not in your price range, the iNext is pressing into the future of EVs with a vehement resistance to human interface. We’re not there yet, but cars like the iNext are “helpfully” assisting our transition into a world where the art of driving is as relevant as addressing an envelope.