The M Division is having a crack at the Audi R8 and AMG GT. Just don’t expect them to play by the rules…


If we invited you to a magical world where the BMW M8 and i8 were mashed together, you’d surely come along with us. Imagine the i8’s planet-saving disposition, and its exotic looks, construction and layout. And the M8’s thundering performance.

Meet the Vision M Next. It was unveiled strictly as a concept car, but someone who knows told TopGear something like it will go on sale as a standalone M car in a few years. “It won’t be exactly like this. But remember how the Vision EfficientDynamics turned into the i8.”

It’s a mid-engined wedge, futuristic as you like. But at the same time it’s slyly looking in its rearview: we’re seeing the 1978 M1 and, come to that, the 1972 Turbo concept, as well as the i8.

When it’s in full angry mode, there’s a strongly turbo’d four-cylinder behind the seats. That’s assisted by an electric motor at each end. Totalled up, BMW is talking 600bhp. BMW’s R&D chief Klaus Fröhlich says it has more performance in pure-EV mode than the i8 does in all-systems mode.

The top speed is claimed to be 186mph. The 0–62mph time is more impressive, at 3.0secs. We suspect those numbers are theoretical, not test-track verified, mind.

“BMW M is not just about acceleration. So weight is important. It would be 1,600kg to 1,700kg. If we made it pure-EV it would be 2.1 tonnes.” Fröhlich also says the electric motors allow clever traction control. “You can do a drift mode, up to 45 degrees.”

But it’s also friendly: plug it in and charge the battery and you’ve got a claimed 62 miles in electric drive. And unlike the i8, there are electric motors front and rear, so it’s true electric AWD.

He says the underbody aero has been worked out already, and the cooling (of which it needs much more than an i8). In fact, he says it has almost no parts in common with the i8, though it has the same sort of carbon-fibre tub, made from recycled material chopped and moulded.

Approach, and face-recognition tech lets you in. Gullwing doors admit you to a sparse interior, scooped as if from a solid block. The steering wheel’s a butterfly shape like a dragster’s. Mounted on the skeletal column is a curved glass display covering all the usual instruments and infotainment, plus a heart-rate display.

Switch to Boost+ mode, though, and much of that distraction goes away from the instrument pod. As with previous BMW Vision concepts, the entire windscreen becomes an augmented-reality device. The advanced navigation and driving assistance computers effectively project cornering lines and braking points over the road. And when you’re pulling big Gs, no need to fret about spilling drink over the lovely blue microfibre. Because the cupholders are gyroscopic. We say that again… Gyro. Scopic. Cup. Holders.

Details outside include slit-like laser eyes for headlights, a 3D laser-etched grille, and daubs of Electric Orange paint. Make it an option, BMW. Go on, we dare you.

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