BMW iNEXT SUV’s curved infotainment system teased

The all-electric BMW iNEXT SUV's curved infotainment system has been teased ahead of its planned launch in 2021

BMW has released a pair of teaser images detailing the curved infotainment screen due to be fitted to the all-electric iNEXT SUV. The model was first unveiled at the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show and, when the production variant reaches the UK market in 2021, it will act as the technological halo for the brand’s all-electric “i” range.

The infotainment system is similar to the floating infotainment screen found on the iNEXT concept, albeit without the additional, smaller screen tacked onto the dashboard in front of the driver.

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It’s angled towards the driver and spans the width of the iNEXT’s interior. BMW says It’s held in place by a lightweight magnesium bracket, and is mounted in such a way that the occupants can’t see its physical connection to the dashboard. The screen is also made from non-reflective glass.

These latest teaser images follow a flurry of official images from BMW documenting the iNEXT’s winter testing programme. BMW’s most recent winter excursion tested the limits of the SUV’s all-wheel-drive system, and examined how cold weather affects the efficiency of its electric motor and the charging characteristics of its battery pack.

Even though BMW’s “spied” mule wears heavy camouflage, we can determine some substantial design changes between it and the concept model. Most noticeably, the rear suicide doors have been ditched in favour of conventional units, while the concept’s front end has been reworked with a smaller grille and an added air scoop.

The concept’s missing B-pillar has been reinstated and its wing-mounted cameras have been replaced with conventional rear-view mirrors. However, the concept’s slim LED headlights and swept-back panoramic windscreen appear to have been transferred onto the mule.

BMW is yet to reveal full information on the iNEXT’s performance, range and powertrain, but it has discussed its next-generation electric drivetrain and platform plans before. When the iNEXT launches in 2021, it’ll be one of the first vehicles on BMW’s new ‘common platform’, which is capable of supporting petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric powertrains. Despite this, the iNEXT will only be offered as an electric vehicle.

Looking to the upcoming i4, which is also set to use the same platform, the BMW iNEXT should have a maximum battery size of 120kWh, which will provide the all-electric SUV with an official range of 435 miles on a single charge.

BMW Vision iNEXT concept: exterior design

At just over five metres long, the Vision iNEXT concept is a large two-box SUV, similar in footprint to X5 and in height to an X6. The concept rides on 24-inch wheels, and is free of a B-pillar thanks to a set of ‘suicide’ rear-hinged back doors.

Though it won’t be a regular member of the BMW line-up, X7 cues are seen in the form of the tall and upright gills placed at each corner of the front apron. The new ‘streamflow’ style window line employed on the iVision Dynamics concept – which will become the i4 – makes it clear that this is an i car.

At the front end, extremely slim four-piece headlights sit either side of a huge interlinked kidney grille, blanked off to signify the car’s electric powertrain. In place of the traditional door mirrors are a pair of cameras – one facing forward and one backward – which, in combination with a selection of radars, lidars, cameras, GPS antennas and an external microphone, enable the iNext to drive with level 3 autonomous ability.

This will be enhanced further by the inclusion of 5G communication, which will eventually allow the facility for autonomous cars to communicate with each other, even in the sort of busy urban environments which, due to the interference of crowded networks, would make this impossible with Wi-Fi or 4G.

The windscreen sweeps upwards into the car’s roof to create a seamless panoramic panel, while the boxy proportions at the rear of the car are a little more conventional, completed with a set of horizontal LED tail lights.

BMW iNEXT concept: interior design

The cabin is strictly concept and does not preview the interior layout of the production car. As such, it’s loaded with stargazing features that won’t be seen in the finished item three years from now.

Created from a combination of open-pore wood, illuminated crystal glass and textile cloth, the front compartment features a steering wheel that partially collapses into the dashboard and pedals which fold flush into the wooden floor when the concept is switched into autonomous mode.

The interior is constructed from vegan-friendly materials, and each seat in the boutique hotel-inspired cabin is unique. The lounge-style rear quarters is asymmetrical, with one side assuming a more relaxed position pointing towards the centre of the car. This will allow easier conversation with the front passenger, who is able to fold the headrest 90 degrees backwards to give a clearer view of those behind.

Hidden underneath a veneer of wood on the centre console and embedded in the fabric used on the vast rear bench is a combination of sensors and micro LEDs, which respond to the touch. Pinching and swiping like you would on a smartphone draws illuminated patterns on the surfaces, and allows those on board to control minor features such as music volume.

Similarly, there are no screens in the back of the concept. Instead, BMW showcases what it calls Intelligent Beam, which uses interactive projectors capable of tracking blank books and projecting information and entertainment straight onto the pages as an alternative to displays and tablets.

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