01 September 2009

Layery little number

BMW lightweight hybrid concept promises M3 performance with Mini emissions. Oh, and the future of flame surfacing

BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept

See more Vision EfficientDynamics concept pics

If you wondered how the next generation of BMWs would look, following styling guru Chris Bangle’s departure earlier this year, here’s your first hint.

This is the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept, a plug-in turbodiesel hybrid set to debut in Frankfurt in a couple of weeks time. It serves as both a preview of future BMW styling, but also a showcase for BMW’s lightweight and hybrid technologies.

BMW says the VED (we’re not writing that clunky long name again, sorry) will manage M3 performance with Mini levels of fuel economy. It has roughly the same dimensions as a 3-Series coupe, but with a considerably swoopier roofline.

It’s light, too. The VED weighs in at just under 1400kg – not bad for a 2+2 coupe with massive butterfly doors.

The VED is powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel – essentially half of the unit in a 330d – developing 163bhp and 214lb ft of torque. This engine is expected to debut in the 1-Series in a couple of years’ time before making its way into the bigger 3-Series.

But there’s more. A pair of electric motors drive the front and rear wheels independently, the front motor returning 34bhp and 214lb ft of torque, with the rear motor managing 80bhp and 162lb ft of torque. That means the VED is capable of an overall output of 356bhp and a massive 590lb ft of twist.

That’s good for a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds – right on M3 money – while returning 75mpg and just under 100g/km of CO2. Impressive numbers.

The VED can run for 30 miles on electric power alone, but will manage a further 400 miles in hybrid mode. BMW says the 85kg battery pack will recharge in around two and a half hours from a standard mains plug, but that this could be reduced to just 45 minute with a 380-volt connection.

Inevitably, though, much talk will focus on the VED’s styling. BMW design boss Adrian van Hooydonk describes it as ‘layered surfacing’, saying it creates a ‘more cohesive and harmonious appearance’ while also optimising aero flow.

BMW is clear that the VED doesn’t preview a single upcoming car, but instead introduces styling ideas that could feature across the range over the next few years.

Bearing in mind that the most extreme elements of the VED will become toned down for production… what do you think?

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