Introducing the future of BMW: The Vision Neue Klasse.

“Neue Klasse,” or “New Class,” is a name synonymous with propellerheads the world over. Most of us know it as the series of historic BMW sedans and coupes that would eventually go on to spawn the iconic 2002. However, only the true BMW nerds (us included) know just how important the Neue Klasse cars were in saving BMW from the brink of bankruptcy and a hostile takeover by Daimler-Benz, who aimed to convert this little Bavarian factory into a manufacturer and supplier of car bodies for Mercedes-Benz.

While BMW did build some stylish cars during the post-war era, they either lagged behind the times, such as the 502 sedan, or were simply prohibitively expensive to produce, like the 507 Roadster. The only cars that managed to keep the company afloat at the time were the Isetta and 700 Coupe. Facing financial ruin, Bayerische Motoren Werke was in dire straits, and things were about to take a turn for the worse. Enter Daimler-Benz.

On the 9th of December in 1959, Daimler-Benz was on the verge of acquiring BMW, as the majority of the BMW board appeared ready to approve the takeover. However, in a last-minute twist, a handful of disgruntled shareholders, including Herbert Quandt, successfully adjourned the meeting. Interestingly, Quandt, who had initially supported the Daimler-Benz takeover, had concerns about the potential disruption it might cause in BMW’s factories.

Against the advice of BMW’s bankers, he chose to increase his stake in the company and struck an agreement with the state of Bavaria, ultimately setting the stage for BMW’s future success, including the development of the Neue Klasse, the iconic 2002, and the brand’s rise to prominence.

In short, the Neue Klasse platform and series of cars laid the foundation for the BMW we know and love today.

With my little history lesson over, I think it is sufficient to say that the name ‘Neue Klasse’ is extremely important to BMW, perhaps, even sacred. So, for them to bring it back is significant on many levels. It’s significant enough that it currently stands as the most expensive project they have ever embarked upon.

As the next milestone in their Neue Klasse project, which commenced with the iVision Circular and continued with the iVision Dee, the Vision Neue Klasse offers us a very close glimpse into the design language and future technology of their next generation of vehicles.

Stylistically departing from every other BMW currently on the market, the Vision Neue Klasse embodies characteristically BMW lines that are clean, sharp, and elegant. With its wide stance and streamlined surfaces, the Neue Klasse also seamlessly incorporates time-tested BMW design signatures, including the forward-angled shark-nose, kidney grilles, double headlight signatures, and the iconic Hofmeister kink.

That extra graphical element of the side windows? It features an E-ink display that provides visual cues for various functionalities, such as proximity to the vehicle or door opening.

“The design of the Neue Klasse is typically BMW and so progressive it looks like we skipped a model generation,” says BMW’s head of design, Adrian van Hooydonk. Having seen the car in the metal, we think he might be understating things a bit.

Having laid eyes on the Vision Neue Klasse in person, I felt it exuded strong E30 vibes, accompanied by touches of the (love it to bits) 2002, E23, and Bertone’s Garmisch concept from the 1970s.

One can’t help but wonder if this project was what prompted the resurrection of the Garmisch in 2019. (And, off the record, does anyone else catch honts of a Nissan Bluebird/Datsun 510?).

Beneath this futuristic and almost monolithic design lies BMW’s most advanced drivetrain yet – a fully electric system equipped with BMW’s sixth-generation Drive technology. This promises a 25 percent faster charging rate and a 30 percent increase in range and efficiency.

These improvements are achieved through major advancements in newly-developed battery cells, boasting a 20 per cent higher energy density compared to today’s prismatic cells.

To put it into perspective, consider the current BMW i4 eDrive40, which utilizes prismatic cells to offer a driving range of up to 590km. With a 30 per cent increase, that range would potentially increase to 767km, and a 25 per cent boost in charging speed could reduce the 10 to 80% charging time from 32 to 24 minutes.

It’s important to note that these figures are largely simplistic estimates, and with EV technology continually advancing, we’ll have to wait for official figures to provide a more accurate picture.

In the case of Vision Neue Klasse, the innovations go beyond power and drivetrains. Within the elegantly appointed yet minimalist cabin featuring seats and materials we feel are reminiscent of custom low-riders, you’ll discover the most substantial evolution in how we interact with a BMW since the introduction of the Drive.

BMW calls it Panoramic Vision. If the new Mini’s circular display and revised UI represent a step up from the current cars, then this is a full-on leap. It utilizes a full-color, high-resolution heads-up display that spans the entire width of the widescreen. This provides both the driver and front passenger with the ability to interact with the displayed information, allowing them to use gesture control to move content between the angled, parallelogram-outlined central screen and the Panoramic Vision Display. Additionally, relocating most of the digital readouts to a heads-up projection unit offers the added benefit of freeing up the cabin’s design, creating a cleaner and lighter atmosphere inside.

While we absolutely adore it, we’re somewhat sceptical that the stunning yellow interior and low-rider seats will make it into production in their current form. However, we’ve been informed that the technology elements are receiving strong emphasis.

Circularity is as expected, a significant focal point when it comes to the Vision Neue Klasse. Production takes place at BMW’s new cutting-edge, fossil fuel-free plant in Debrecen, and there’s a concerted effort to incorporate a more extensive range of raw and secondary materials with reduced CO2 emissions.

The Vision Neue Klasse is the future of BMW, and it’s a vision of sheer beauty.

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