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BMW’s Vision Neue Klasse concept previews the next-generation electric 3 Series

BMW is going back to the future, back to basics, and back to its roots with its next-generation 3 Series saloon as the German car giant seeks inspiration from its simpler pioneering heyday past in the 1970s and ’80s.

The production version of the top-selling BMW set for launched in 2025 marks the start of ‘a new era’ , for the German car giant, said bosses today.

And to give a preview of how it might look, it has showcased the new Vision Neue Klasse concept vehicle at the Munich Motor Show. 

This is what the new electric BMW 3 Series could look like? The Bavarian car maker unveils its Vision Neue Klasse concept, the preview to the i3

This is what the new electric BMW 3 Series could look like? The Bavarian car maker unveils its Vision Neue Klasse concept, the preview to the i3

Out goes the controversial giant mega-grille – which has divided opinion among prospective customers – in favour of a shallower but wider and more graceful kidney grille mounted on a retro ‘shark-nose’ bonnet.

Exuberant styling is also replaced with more restrained and classically refined though still contemporary lines that hark back to a more elegant and less brutalist BMW age from decades ago.

And a key hi-tech innovation for drivers and passengers will be a super-widescreen IMAX-style head up display covering the entire width of the windscreen.

BMW bosses said the new styling would be used on six models over the next 24 months. 

Exuberant styling has been replaced by classical design and contemporary lines that hark back to a more elegant and less brutalist BMW age from decades ago

Exuberant styling has been replaced by classical design and contemporary lines that hark back to a more elegant and less brutalist BMW age from decades ago

Rejoice, the controversial giant mega-grille looks set to be culled in favour of a shallower but wider and more graceful kidney grille mounted on a retro 'shark-nose' bonnet

Rejoice, the controversial giant mega-grille looks set to be culled in favour of a shallower but wider and more graceful kidney grille mounted on a retro ‘shark-nose’ bonnet

BMW says it is 'reinventing itself' with the design philosophy of the 'New Class' concept, which highlights its innovation in electrification, digitalisation and recycling

BMW says it is ‘reinventing itself’ with the design philosophy of the ‘New Class’ concept, which highlights its innovation in electrification, digitalisation and recycling

The new electric 3 Series – which will be built at BMWs new green, hi-tech car and battery ‘iFactory’ in Debrecen, Hungary, where it has invested £1.7billion – is set to be called the i3.

But the change of style is even more significant because BMW says this is the ‘clear, elegant, timeless’ look that all future BMW models will be following.

Its new look was revealed in BMW’s ‘New Class’ prototype unveiled in the German car maker’s Bavarian home city.

BMW said unashamedly that it was ‘reinventing itself’ and highlighting its innovation in electrification, digitalisation and recycling, noting: ‘With its latest design concept, the BMW Vision Neue Klasse, the BMW Group is showcasing what the next generation of vehicles from its core BMW brand will look like’.

BMW said the new car 'embodies a clear design language, with expansive surfaces and just a few distinctive lines, that has been pared down to the essentials'

BMW said the new car ’embodies a clear design language, with expansive surfaces and just a few distinctive lines, that has been pared down to the essentials’

Recycled materials and recyclable car components, and a fully-electric environmentally-friendly drive train will reduce the car's carbon footprint the vehicle's lifecycle

Recycled materials and recyclable car components, and a fully-electric environmentally-friendly drive train will reduce the car’s carbon footprint the vehicle’s lifecycle

Powerful wheel arches, a steeply forward-slanting 'shark nose' front-end, and a retracted windscreen and windows are all characteristic BMW features

Powerful wheel arches, a steeply forward-slanting ‘shark nose’ front-end, and a retracted windscreen and windows are all characteristic BMW features

Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of management of the over-arching BMW AG company said: ‘In this way, we are always able to stay two steps ahead of the future.

‘The Neue Klasse is already bringing the mobility of the next decade to the roads in 2025 – and leading BMW into a new era.’

BMW said the new car ’embodies a clear design language, with expansive surfaces and just a few distinctive lines, that has been pared down to the essentials’.

This approach accentuates signature features like the BMW kidney grille and the so-called ‘Hofmeister kink’ of the side window graphic.

BMW bosses said the new generation car represents ‘a major technological leap’ and would enjoy ’30 per cent more range, 30 per cent faster charging, and 25 per cent more efficiency.’

Recycled materials and recyclable car components, and a fully-electric environmentally-friendly drive train will reduce the car’s carbon footprint the vehicle’s lifecycle,

Describing the new design language, BMW said: 'It is clear, elegant, and timeless.'

Describing the new design language, BMW said: ‘It is clear, elegant, and timeless.’

The Vision New Class is the latest BMW concept signalling how its future showroom models could look. This includes the fully-recycled iVision Circular (background) and iVision Dee (middle)

The Vision New Class is the latest BMW concept signalling how its future showroom models could look. This includes the fully-recycled iVision Circular (background) and iVision Dee (middle)

Frank Weber, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for development said: ‘With the Neue Klasse, we have embarked on the biggest investment in the company’s history.

‘We are not just writing the next chapter of BMW; we’re writing a whole new book. That’s why the Neue Klasse will certainly impact all model generations.’

Describing the new design language, BMW said: ‘It is clear, elegant, and timeless.’

Powerful wheel arches, a steeply forward-slanting ‘shark nose’ front-end, and a retracted windscreen and windows are all characteristic BMW features, it said.

The 21-inch aerodynamic wheels pay tribute to the classic cross-spoke design inspired by motorsports.

A key hi-tech innovation for drivers and passengers will be a super-widescreen IMAX-style head up display covering the entire width of the windscreen

A key hi-tech innovation for drivers and passengers will be a super-widescreen IMAX-style head up display covering the entire width of the windscreen

Front seats are attached to the floor by a single bracket, freeing up additional legroom in the rear where passengers can enjoy the spaciousness created by having two individual seats

Front seats are attached to the floor by a single bracket, freeing up additional legroom in the rear where passengers can enjoy the spaciousness created by having two individual seats

Head of BMW Group design Adrian van Hooydonk said: ‘The design of the Neue Klasse is typically BMW and so progressive it looks like we skipped a model generation.’

Luminous exterior paintwork with a subtle yellow hue is called ‘Joyous bright’ and ains to highlight the car’s ‘friendly, future-oriented personality’. Black side skirts and bumpers add contrast.

The next generation of BMW’s iDrive digital system for drivers will also deliver ‘a user experience that merges real and virtual worlds’.

To emphasise its green credentials, the car will use a higher percentage of ‘secondary’ or recycled raw materials. Improvements have been made to enhance recycling and dismantling – or as it is known in green jargon ‘circularity’ – to help reduce consumption of original raw materials and lower CO2 emissions.

In the wake of criticism of increasingly large and cartoon-like BMW grilles, the company said it was now advancing ‘a fresh interpretation of the brand’s signature design elements, like the BMW kidney grille and double headlights.’

In a piece of theatre, the car initiates a three-dimensional lighting animation and unlocks the doors as soon as drivers approach their car.

BMW says human-to-car interaction takes place through the BMW Panoramic Vision head-up display, the central screen and multifunction buttons on the steering wheel

BMW says human-to-car interaction takes place through the BMW Panoramic Vision head-up display, the central screen and multifunction buttons on the steering wheel

The interior design is completely free of decorative chrome or leather. 'This helps optimise the carbon footprint of the production process, ' says BMW

The interior design is completely free of decorative chrome or leather. ‘This helps optimise the carbon footprint of the production process, ‘ says BMW

The next generation of BMW’s iDrive digital system for drivers will also deliver ‘a user experience that merges real and virtual worlds’.

BMW says it will lead the world with the introduction of ‘BMW Panoramic Vision’ which is a widescreen version of head-up display and which will be available for the first time in the Neue Klasse. 

It notes: ‘Information is projected at the ideal height into the driver’s line of sight and, for the first time, across the entire width of the windscreen. This innovation will complement the enhanced BMW head-up display in the production models of the Neue Klasse.’

‘Both the driver and front passenger are able to interact with information displayed on BMW Panoramic Vision, creating a shared user experience. Drivers can move content shown on the central display to the BMW Panoramic Vision with a simple gesture.’

However, fans of traditional knobs and switches who find the over-reliance on digital screens complicated and distracting may be dismayed. BMW says: ‘Analogue operating controls have been reduced to a minimum.

‘Human-car interaction takes place through the BMW Panoramic Vision, the central display and multifunction buttons on the steering wheel.’

To emphasise its green credentials, the car will use a higher percentage of 'secondary' or recycled raw materials

To emphasise its green credentials, the car will use a higher percentage of ‘secondary’ or recycled raw materials

Bright cord fabrics create a comfortable interior atmosphere, says BMW. We're not entirely sure we agree with that statement

Bright cord fabrics create a comfortable interior atmosphere, says BMW. We’re not entirely sure we agree with that statement

The so-called ‘user experience’ is is rounded off ‘by the tried-and-tested voice control of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant’, says the car giant.

Ambient lighting and graphic elements of the central display and BMW Panoramic Vision can also be customised using a ‘My Modes’ option.

My Mode ‘Sport’ sets displays against a yellow background to support dynamic driving: ‘Interaction between human and vehicle can thus be tailored even more closely to the driving situation and individual needs, enabling a totally new perception of mobility.’

Bright cord fabrics create a comfortable interior atmosphere, says BMW.

‘The light-coloured instrument panel supports the steering wheel, which is flattened at the top and bottom.’

There is a smartphone charging cradle and glass-like selector lever son the centre console.

Front seats are attached to the floor by a single bracket, freeing up additional legroom in the rear where passengers can enjoy the spaciousness created by having two individual seats.

The interior design is completely free of decorative chrome or leather.

‘This helps optimise the carbon footprint of the production process, ‘ says BMW.

The final production car will be manufactured at BMW’s new ‘green’ plant in Debrecen, Hungary ‘ entirely without fossil fuels and with much wider use of raw and secondary materials produced with reduced CO2’, says BMW.

Ambient lighting and graphic elements of the central display and BMW Panoramic Vision can also be customised

Ambient lighting and graphic elements of the central display and BMW Panoramic Vision can also be customised

The production version of the top-selling BMW set for launched in 2025 marks the start of 'a new era' , for the German car giant, said bosses today

The production version of the top-selling BMW set for launched in 2025 marks the start of ‘a new era’ , for the German car giant, said bosses today

Out on the road, optimised weight, air and rolling resistance, and intelligent heat management, especially for the electric drive train, using sixth-generation BMW energy-efficient ‘eDrive’ technology, will reduce the car’s carbon footprint.

This will be boosted by highly efficient new electric motors and major advances in the new BMW eDrive technology which include newly-developed round battery cells with more than 20 percent higher energy density than in cells used previously.

Sixth generation ‘eDrive’ technology will improve charging speeds by up to 30 percent, in addition to boosting their range by up to 30 per cent, says BMW: ‘As a result of all these measures, overall vehicle efficiency will increase by up to 25 per cent.’

BMW said: ‘Electrification, digitalisation and circularity are the core elements of the transformation that is being actively shaped by the BMW Group.

‘Vision Neue Klasse signals the start of a new era of individual mobility that is rich in digital experiences, locally emission-free and circular in the long term – guaranteeing typical BMW driving pleasure for generations to come.’

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