BMW Vision Neue Klasse X Concept Hands-On Preview

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

The Neue Klasse X is a 90-percent-there look at the upcoming EV SAV offerings from BMW.

You knew it was coming. Ever since BMW showed off the Neue Klasse concept sedan late last year, an SUV (SAV in BMW-speak) equivalent had to be right behind. At a hush-hush preview event last month, AutoGuide got a brief look at the latest member of the Neue Klasse family, which previews the production model set to touch down later this year.

A new era of BMW X design

This isn’t just the Neue Klasse sedan design pinched and pulled for different proportions. Everything is different, but in a way that conveys a clear sense of connection between car and SUV. Whereas the former reinterprets the familial kindey grille as a full-width lighting element, the Neue Klasse X reinstates separate kidneys to punctuate the nose. They’re tall and narrow like BMWs of yore, yet light up like BMWs of now. BMW designers have spaced out the daytime running light signature to emphasize the height of the X, and minimized the hood creases for that broad high-rider feel. There’s a great three-dimensional quality to the main beams and, as BMW puts it, they work in conjunction with those light-up kidneys to begin a welcome display that continues to the interior, more of which we’ll talk about soon.

The back-end of the Vision Neue Klasse X hews closer to the sedan, with wide LED taillights that feature an evolution of the traditional L-shape within their lighting elements. The pronounced central indentation mirrors the design up front—and only slightly makes it seem like the NKX really hates Aquaman.

The bits between the nose and tail are altogether much cleaner than the fussy design of the current XM, though the design maintain thats ( very fun, thank you) vehicle’s classic cab-rearward proportions. The angular, slightly asymmetrical wheelarches give classic supercar, and BMW has given the classic Hofmeister kink a 2020s upgrade. Using what the company calls a “reflective print,” the window overlay goes from transparent to reflective depending on viewing angle.

Bright and airy cabin

BMW hasn’t been afraid to get adventurous with its interiors as of late, and the payoff has been some of our favorite cabins here at AutoGuide. The iX and those diagonal-split seats with blue microfiber—and wool?! That’s the stuff.

The Neue Klasse X cabin is another step in that direction. It’s a lot like the exterior in a sense: expect a lot, but not necessarily all, of what we see to transfer over to the eventual production model. Now that includes the hyper-minimalist dashboard, the soft ambient lighting, and the really cool head-up display that stretches the entire width of the windshield. BMW calls the latter Panoramic Vision, and it works in conjunction with the large central infotainment screen. Driver and passenger can drag and drop widgets to six slots at the top of the screen, and they’ll appear in the HUD in real-time.

Another fun feature is the Personal Sound Experience. The logical progression of BMW’s existing IconicSounds suite, Personal Sound Experience lets drivers tailor the EV soundtrack to their liking. Open up the menu and there are four quadrants: Calm, Free, Agile, and Expressive. Simply slide your digits around here to adjust the sound to your liking, in real time. BMW calls it HYPERSONX—the brand’s heavy-handed formatting, not ours—but I think I’ll call it CAFE.

It sure is a comfy place to (carefully, without shoes) sit in. The seat position is basically a lateral move for this 5’10” person, while the low window line and massive glass roof panel let in all the natural light. The low floor and pared-back seat design makes for a comfortable second-row experience, too.

All the materials in the cabin are sustainable or recyclable, utilizing items such as used fishing nets. To that end, BMW is also proud to have made numerous exterior pieces out of single-source materials, which it says enables “easier disassembly of components and improved recyclability.

More power, more range, more efficiency

It feels like we’ve only just gotten to know the fifth generation of BMW’s eDrive powertrains, yet the Neue Klasse family will debut the sixth. The Bavarians are changing up the lithium-ion cell shape here, moving to a round design instead of the previous prismatic approach, unlocking 20-percent ore energy density in doing so. Like Porsche, the Hyundai group, and General Motors’ Ultium platform, the latest eDrive setup will now run on 800-volt architecture. BMW EVs are already amongst the quickest-charging vehicles on the market, but eDrive 6.0 should see a 30-percent improvement, with BMW benchmarking 186 miles (300 kilometers) in just 10 minutes. Another welcome 30-percent improvement: range. Some of that can be contributed to other changes too, including a lower coefficient of drag and a unique tire and brake package.

A major aspect of the Neue Klasse project is its new drive and chassis control approach, which centralizes more processes into one, in-house computer, which BMW AG board member Frank Weber refers to as a “super-brain.” Weber says future BMW models will have four of these super brains, with the first handling powertrain and driving dynamics with up to 10 times more computing power than before. “The second super-brain will enable the next quantum leap in automated driving,” adds Weber. “Going forward, we will combine four key control units in a single high-performance computer. The result will be more dynamic performance, more precision, more efficiency and even more fun to drive.”

Production begins next year

The eventual production model of the Neue Klasse X will go into production early next year. It will be built at BMW Group Plant Debrecen in Hungary, which will be the first BMW plant to run entirely on fossil-free energy. We expect to see this production model before the end of the year. Now BMW, about a Neue Klasse Touring…

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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