At the top of BMWs lineup, the 7-series has long-resided as the company’s flagship sedan. Although the 8-series only trumped the full-size sedan in number, the 7-series has been the choice of presidents and the business elite around the globe. The current F01 chassis however, is related to the 5-series and BMW took some of the spotlight away from their next generation propulsion system in the i8 to get the exclusive sedan back on target with the Vision Future Luxury Concept.
Currently only a concept, the Future Luxury Concept’s design language certainly hints at a potential production car. The overall silhouette is a natural progression over the current 7-series, with trademarks like the wide kidney grilles and Hofmeister kink wonderfully intact. The headlights and rear tails are inspired by the company’s currenthorizontal slit approach visible on the i8, but offer 10-times the lighting power up front using BMW Laserlight headlight technology and OLED taillights that can be sculpted in many ways with impossibly thin profiles.
The exterior body creases and hood sculpting echo the current profile design cuts on today’s 7-series but hint at a more exclusive approach to BMW luxury flagship. The coupe-style roofline and swept-back greenhouse improves aerodynamics along with subtle moves to manage air aft the front wheel arch, around the C-pillar and the rear apron vents relieving pressure from the rear wheel arches. The proportions are muscular and the massive wheel arches are filled with 21-inch wheels, but the most striking feature of the sedan is the layout of the door openings.
While on the Concept Lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours, the Future Luxury Concept had both doors on the driver side opened to reveal a dramatic, large opening to the luxurious interior. The suicide door approach typically found on ultra-luxury vehicles has been deployed here and the subtle, yet strong carbon fiber B-pillar was present but gradually faded away into the interior space without detection. The interior itself is a study in weight-saving techniques, having multiple layers form a minimal composite structure that wastes no space. A carbon fabric is laid down followed by aluminum structural elements added before layers of wood and leather to warm up the interior ambiance. The result is a minimalist interior that flows around occupants with even the seat frames integrating into the structure of the vehicle.
Inside, BMW engineers continued the push towards the future direction of their ConnectedDrive program. The driver is surrounded by multiple displays relaying all of the vital information in a driver-centric format. The fully programmable center stacks are all controlled by voice commands to avoid distraction. The appearance of the displays appears to flow into the solid surfaces blurring the lines between what is traditional interior and BMW high-tech wizardry.
The Vision’s head-up display in the driver’s field of vision features: speed limit sign highlighting, solid object identification and Traffic Light Assistant, which predicts upcoming signals. Much of this information is also visible to the front passenger, where on-screen displays can be swapped between occupants with a slight swipe. The concept also features a technology called Luxury Concierge, which has the world of e-commerce controllable through the iDrive touch-sensitive controls. Without question, much of the focus was placed on the rear seat controls and entertainment experience since that is likely where many of the owners of the vehicle with primarily spend time. The rear face of the front seats is dominated by displays both permanent and in the form of detachable command tablets. All of the information in the BMW ConnectedDrive system is accessible from these displays and information can be freely exchanged between front and rear seats. The retractable table, rear displays and large frames of front seats create a very private, almost limousine-like atmosphere minus the proper divider. The two-seat rear cabin is accentuated by deep-pile silk carpet, lime wood, and high quality Analine and Nubuk leather.
“The design of the BMW Vision Future Luxury is the messenger of our philosophy of modern luxury, one in which innovative technologies play a key and vital role,” stated Karim Habib, Head of BMW Design. “These innovations deliver a new, multifaceted luxury experience that spans intelligent lightweight engineering, innovative interior design and a radically new user interface design.” He added.
We would have to agree with the statement and the resulting concept as the next logical step in 7-series design, or even further upscale to compete with Bentley Mulsanne or Mercedes Pullman, where it appears BMW is poised to do battle. One thing is for certain, the attention to next-level technological interfaces and luxury design appears to be at the forefront of the thought process and might shake up established ultra-luxury markets in the execution.