BMW Vision M Next concept: i8 successor cancelled

Published: 05 May 2020

► BMW unveils new Vision M Next concept
► Hybrid supercar packs 597bhp and AWD
► Precursor to next i8 will be shown in Frankfurt

The BMW Vision M Next was designed to be a look at Munich’s next hybrid supercar – but new reports suggest it’ll remain a concept. According to new reports from BMWBlog and the German publication Manager Magazin, the M Next project has been cancelled with two devestatating Cs: Coronavirus and costs.

An insider quote from Manager Magazin states that ‘[M Next] will remain a prototype. The board decided not to build it. That makes no sense in the post-corona world, explains one of the decision-makers.’

It’s a shame, but something you’ll be hearing more of in the next few months. Car manufacturers are taking a hit thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, and that means there’ll be focusing on their most important projects – namely electric cars. BMW – like most other brands – has a packed scheduled in the next few months, with a range of electric cars set to be revealed in the next few months. Take the iX3, i4 and iX5 to name a few.

You can read about BMW’s electric plans and the platforms they’ll roll on here. 

Throw in the steep R&D cost associated with building a hybrid supercar – and BMW’s decision is sad but understandable. After all, we’re not getting a Forc Focus RS for the same reasoons – and that’s a significantly cheaper car that would’ve been sold in greater numbers. 

Still, we’ll always have the i8 – in the same way we’ll always have the M1…. 

What was the Vision M Next? 

This i8- and M1-echoing concept was the new counterpart to the considerably less attractive iNext concept, and explores the future of performance cars according to BMW – that’s code for the next i8. ‘The BMW Vision M provides a glimpse into the future of electric driving,’ said Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s senior vice president of design. ‘The BMW Vision M Next demonstrates how state-of-the-art can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging.’

Our guide to electric BMW cars

BMW Vision M Next concept at Frankfurt motor show 2019 - rear view

The concept focuses around two themes; ‘ease’ which is essentially an autonomous mode, and ‘boost,’ which offers a more manual, hands-on driving experience. 

A hybrid, not an EV 

We’ll park those stunning looks to one side for a moment, because it’s worth outlining the powertrain behind this new concept. Like the current i8, the Vision M Next uses a hybrid powertrain, but the concept uses a four-cylinder turbo rather than the triple-cylinder unit  in the current car. That brings total power up to 592bhp (compared to 369bhp in the current i8) and 0-62mph in just three seconds.

Top speed is 186mph, and there’s an EV range of 62 miles and there’s also a Boost+ button that should deliver extra power – though BMW doesn’t say exactly how much – or what the split between electric and petrol power is. 

BMW Vision M Next concept at Frankfurt motor show 2019 - interior with crazy steering wheel

In order to balance the dynamic performance with hybrid trickery, a lot of thought has gone into how the hybrid system puts down its power.  In hybrid mode, the Vision M Next’s Power PHEV system combines rear-wheel drive from the petrol engine with electric power on the front axle, but drift merchants will be pleased to know a more tail happy, purer rear-wheel drive mode is also available – and that can use hybrid, or petrol mode, too.

And now the looks

So what about the M Next’s actual design? Take a classic M1 Procar, current i8, a few highlighters and a geometry kit, mix them together and you’re basically there. It’s clear from the pictures released today that the M Vision uses the same styling cues as BMW’s recent iNext concept, but it merges it with some of the firm’s best looking designs. 

Walk around the concept, and there’s strong hints of i8 – particularly in those wide front grilles, huge bonnet vent and squat wedge-like stance. BMW has stacked the front lights rather than placing them next to each other, so the light signature of this M car looks unlike anything else from Munich’s design studios recently – and that’s not a bad thing. 

Move to the side and you’ll find flying buttresses, a Hofmesiter kink and a air-intake. Gullwing doors return from the i8, and they sit above recycled carbonfibre skirts.

And round the back, the Vision M Concept merges lines of the  iNext concept with stylings from the Lamborghini-built M1 Procar – just look at that slatted rear window and double-badges in the rear-light clusters! Underneath also there’s room for a huge diffuser made of recycled carbonfibre. 

And the interior?

Well, it’s as wacky as you’d expect and about as far from production as the concept’s oven-door-like glass grille. Regardless, BMW says it’s moulded on the driver with all information collected in a Boost Pod, which is a mixture of HUD, steering wheel and translucent cockpit dials. 

BMW Vision M Next

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast