BMW Neue Klasse X: the electric SUV of the future, on sale in 2025 | CAR Magazine

BMW Neue Klasse X: the electric SUV of the future, on sale in 2025

Published: 21 March 2024 Updated: 21 March 2024

► Neue Klasse X concept revealed
► Shows off next gen e-Drive tech
► More range, more fun is the promise

We’ve already seen the saloon, now BMW is showing us the electric SUV of the future with this second Neue Klasse concept, the Neue Klasse X. While perhaps not as instantly radical as the first, the more you look, the more you see – and at least it’s a visual improvement over other recent BMW SUVs.

The Neue Klasse X is based on the same new electric vehicle (EV) platform as the Neue Klasse saloon, which promises an increase in overall efficiency of 25 per cent – and an increase in driving range of 30 per cent.

And like the Neue Klasse saloon, this is no flight of fancy; the Neue Klasse X is coming to production. In fact, the SUV arrives first, with the new BMW i factory in Hungary already gearing up to start churning them out in 2025, a year ahead of the saloon.

It looks… good?

It sure does – it’s much less edgy and divisive than the other recent BMW SUVs. Head of BMW i Design Kai Langer tells of his desire to make cars sporty but not aggressive, and you can see that in action here.

There’s also a clear link between the X and the saloon, in terms of the large windows and smooth surfacing. The latter reflects BMW’s desire to reduce the number of individual components and improve sustainability – check out the debossed BMW badge on the bonnet as a signifier of this – a theme that continues into the interior.

BMW Neue Klasse X electric SUV concept, buff nose with illuminated kidney grille

The former is a deliberate move to try and recapture the light and airy feel present when driving classic cars. There are more classic references in the bluff front end and the distinctive but not overwhelming kidney grilles. These are defined by light rather than chrome to give them a forward-looking aspect as well – their prominence will also be unique to Neue Klasse SUV models.

What’s under the skin?

BMW’s brand spanking Neue Klasse electric vehicle platform, which uses sixth-generation BMW e-drive technology. This includes new cylindrical battery cells – bigger for the SUV – in place of the previous prismatic pouches, and a range of other methods to increase efficiency.

That promise of driving range increased by nearly a third is compared to a current generation equivalent – the BMW iX3. This is a level of improvement we’ve already seen possible in the facelifted Porsche Taycan, so BMW’s brand-new kit should certainly be able to deliver.

BMW Neue Klasse X electric SUV concept, dead-on side

There’s further optimisation in the form of gen-six e-motors, but also the fundamental electronic architecture of the Neue Klasse platform, which is run using just four ‘superbrains’ in place of the previous multitude of individual ECUs.

What’s a BMW superbrain?

The firm’s favourite example is the new driving ECU – apparently nicknamed ‘heart of joy’, this was developed and programmed in-house, and is said to operate 10 times faster than the previous set-up.

But what’s supposed to be really special is that it integrates management of every powertrain and driving dynamics function into one unit. This means the e-motors, chassis, steering and suspension are all controlled from the same place, speeding up their collaborative decision making.

BMW Neue Klasse X electric SUV concept, rear view 'driving' on road, low

This is so effective that according to head of ‘driving experience requirements’ Alexander Karajlovic, you get more response from the same amount of power. Not that the Neue Klasse will be short of this – the full-spec M variants will be quad-motor monsters developing in the region of 1000bhp.

Regular versions will be more sensible single- and dual-motor, but still faster and more efficient than what we’ve seen from BMW before. Every Neue Klasse model will get this same ultra-powerful driving system controller.

What else do the superbrains do?

One of the others takes care of all the assisted and autonomous driving functions. Replacing four previously individual ECUs, this will come in two variants, depending on the spec of the car: L2 autonomous driving for more basic models, L3 autonomous driving for fancy trims.

BMW Neue Klasse X electric SUV concept, dead-on front

The other two superbrains take care of the infotainment and non-driving functions, such as the lights and wipers.

Everything here has been considered for performance – including the position of the ECUs within the vehicle to allow for optimised (and therefore faster and weight-reduced) wiring looms.

What’s the interior of the Neue Klasse X like?

As funky fresh as the Neue Klasse saloon – which is to say there are again fewer individual components, and emphasis on recyclability, and some pretty wacky upholstery and trim.

More pertinently, there aren’t very many buttons. BMW has abandoned the fable iDrive rotary controller completely now, in favour of touch control or – perhaps more usefully – voice control. This sparked a bit of a row in the press conference, but BMW is sticking to its guns (or simply didn’t have time to reverse development while it watched VW get roasted for going down a similar path).

BMW Neue Klasse X electric SUV concept, interior, dashboard, weirdly shaped central screen, Panoramic Vision Display

Innovations to take note of are a new 3D head-up display and the Panoramic Vision Display – both coming to production.

The HUD explains itself; Panoramic Vision, meanwhile, is a full-width band just below the windscreen that can be customised to passenger requirements by a selection of widgets, sent there from the central touchscreen (itself now a natty parallelogram, following the bespoke path set by the circular screen in the latest Mini Countryman).

It looks slick, and the whole infotainment setup promises to be smoking fast and highly customisable, meaning not only visual skins but also the option to change the virtual driving sounds on the fly.

We’ll reserve judgement on the lack of buttons until we’ve tried the finished article.

What will the Neue Klasse X become in production?

No-one at BMW will publicly admit this yet, but the Neue Klasse X is the next BMW iX3 – just as the Neue Klasse saloon will become the new i3 in 2026.

Both will sit alongside conventional petrol, diesel and hybrid models, as BMW is far from abandoning ICE just yet. But those companion cars will be based on other technology, as the Neue Klasse platform is electric alone, in order to deliver what BMW promises will be a step-change in not just appearance but holistic performance.

This is ‘the future of driving pleasure’ according to Karajlovic, and BMW having ‘fundamentally rethought the car’ according to the overall head of Neue Klasse BMW, Dr. Mike Reichelt.

It certainly looks and sounds very impressive – here’s hoping it delivers. ‘Nothing is more important than the Neue Klasse,’ Reichelt emphasises. We’re baited.

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first