The Huge Screen In BMW’s Future Electric SUV Is Surprisingly Cool

By automotive-mag.com 7 Min Read

The latter half of this decade is primed to be something of a watershed moment for electric vehicles. That’s when, after an initial period of experimentation (and, let’s be honest, some flops), car companies large and small plan to launch next-generation vehicles packed with advanced technology and learnings from earlier efforts. 

One such automaker is BMW, whose Neue Klasse (New Class) models are slated to hit the market starting in late 2025. The German luxury juggernaut plans to kick off this new direction with an SUV. And while BMW hasn’t revealed a final version, it recently unveiled a near-production concept called the Vision Neue Klasse X. 

After spending some time checking out the Vision Neue Klasse X at an event in Los Angeles, I can tentatively say that BMW has got a winner on its hands. Of course, big question marks remain about the model’s price and real-world performance. But early impressions are positive: The Vision Neue Klasse X looks attractive inside and out and debuts an innovative pillar-to-pillar digital interface that I think will win over the screen-haters out there. 

BMW’s Neue Klasse

BMW is touting a host of advancements for the Neue Klasse lineup. BMW says they will be more software-defined than before; they’ll use four computers to centralize control of vehicle functions. They’ll contain round battery cells that are 20% more energy-dense than BMW’s previous cells. Neue Klasse cars will deliver 30% faster charging speeds and up to 30% more range, BMW claims. The Neue Klasse platform will underpin two initial vehicles: an SUV and a sedan. Several more will arrive in the next couple of years. 

The BMW Vision Neue Klasse X concept SUV.

Seeing as the Vision Neue Klasse X is just a show car, I couldn’t experience any of those technological improvements just yet. But I was able to check out the SUV inside and out and mess around with its revamped infotainment system. All in all, the Vision Neue Klasse X is about 90% of the way to a production vehicle, BMW head of product communications Tom Plucinsky told me. 

The Vision Neue Klasse X’s Design

When it comes to exterior styling, I liked the Neue Klasse X much more than I had expected from photos alone. The SUV has a weighty presence to it, chiseled features and balanced proportions. It shares elements with the larger BMW iX, like the square-ish shape of its wheel arches, but it has a forward-looking vibe all its own. 

BMW has caught a lot of flack for the oversized grilles in its most recent cars. That’s especially true of the iX, which doesn’t need a grille in the first place (since it has no engine or radiator under the hood) and still has a pair of enormous, plastic buck teeth for decorative purposes. The Vision Neue Klasse X’s grille area is less in-your-face and is framed by an attractive LED strip. 

Inside, BMW managed to keep things simple without veering into the extreme minimalism you’d find in a Tesla. The cabin feels uncluttered but still cozy. Organic shapes, retro-looking orange cloth and a huge glass roof keep things airy and visually interesting. But I’d expect BMW to tone things down for the production vehicle. 

The BMW Vision Neue Klasse X electric SUV concept.

More Screens, But In A Good Way 

A parallelogram-shaped touchscreen serves as the centerpiece of the Neue Klasse X’s interior. And that’s not just prototype nonsense that we’ll never see in reality; BMW confirmed to us that that delightfully quirky shape is coming to the final vehicle. The infotainment system had very limited functionality, but I found the interface to be super smooth and responsive to taps, swipes and scrolls. And I found the whole layout refreshingly straightforward to use and graphically appealing. Of course, that simplicity may be mostly a result of the software being incomplete. 

The BMW Vision Neue Klasse X concept SUV.

Look just beyond the main screen and you’ll find the Neue Klasse X’s pièce de résistance: the so-called Panoramic Vision display. At the bottom of the windshield, BMW added a slim screen that spans the entire width of the vehicle. Before you start groaning about how needless screens are killing cars, hear me out. This one doesn’t suck. 

The Panoramic Vision display doesn’t feel like more screen just for the hell of it. It displays only key information that the driver asks for and is highly configurable. It seems like it would actually be useful for viewing basic stuff without glancing down to the central screen or digging through menus. 

The BMW Vision Neue Klasse X concept SUV.

Swiping down from the top edge of the touchscreen opens the Panoramic Vision display settings. There, you can conveniently drag and drop widgets into the pillar-to-pillar display’s six available slots. Options, represented by parallelogram-shaped tiles, include things like available range, ambient temperature, the media player and traffic information.

What you can’t change is the section directly in front of the driver, which serves as a gauge cluster and shows basics like your speed, gear and state of charge. One point of clarification, if you’re wondering: The Neue Klasse sedan concept showcased a similar display that was projected onto the lower section of the windshield. This, however, is a conventional screen. 

The BMW Vision Neue Klasse X concept SUV.

All in all, the Panoramic Vision display feels much more practical on a day-to-day basis than something like a TV-sized main display or a screen for the front passenger to watch videos on. I’m looking at you, Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen. And it’s more restrained than Lincoln’s new ultra-wide display, which shows things like full-sized maps. Oh, and the Panoramic Vision display is actually coming to the production SUV, BMW said. 

Let us know in the comments: What do you think about the Vision Neue Klasse X? Would you buy one? And at what price?

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