Concept cars give free rein to the creativity of automotive designers. From electric drive systems through gull-wing doors to fabric outer skins – the concepts are always focused on the future and brimming with visionary potential. Concept cars serve a variety of purposes, whether they are conceived as design studies, to help develop and implement new technologies, or to visualise what form new production models will take.
BMW has been one of the forerunners in the automotive industry in terms of concept vehicles, many of which have lead to an ultimate change or alteration in the designs we have grown to love today.
In the gallery above you'll find a variety of BMW Design Concept Cars, for more information on each vehicle just hit the jump. Which design is your favorite and why?
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive (2011).
A sculpturesque study that gives concrete form to cutting-edge technologies and forward-looking ideas, and whose underlying notion is the intelligent integration of driver, vehicle and the outside world. This is immediately apparent from the display and control concept, the unique lighting design and the overtly dynamic styling. The design symbolises the bond between driver and vehicle, the dialogue between driver and front passenger, as well as how the vehicle occupants interact with their environment. An elaborate three-tier system of lighting is used to visualise the various functional aspects of BMW ConnectedDrive, namely comfort, safety and infotainment.
BMW 328 Hommage (2011).
The BMW 328 Hommage, which was unveiled to mark the 75th birthday of the legendary BMW 328 racing car, offers a modern-day interpretation of the original’s principles and character. The study shows what the BMW 328 might have looked like if it had been built nowadays using the latest technical know-how. The exterior and interior of today’s BMW 328 Hommage are largely made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). CFRP offers the ideal balance between weight and stability, being lighter than aluminium yet far stronger as well. Exquisite leather and aluminium in both a matt and a high-gloss black polished finish combine with the CFRP interior of the BMW 328 Hommage to convey the pure, reduced roadster character of the sports car from yesteryear.
BMW Vision EfficientDynamics (2009).
The BMW Vision EfficientDynamics fuses futuristic, aerodynamically streamlined design with a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions. The layering technique is employed in its interior for the first time. By applying the principle of “form follows function” to every last detail, the design endows the study with a unique aesthetic appeal and a powerful emotional lure. On the outside, the body’s design has a distinctly technical bias that lends expression to its systematic lightweight engineering and aerodynamic prowess. At the same time, the brand’s trademark design idiom clearly signals sportiness and efficiency as well.
BMW Gina Light visionary model (2008).
With this model, BMW Group Design provides fresh impetus for a fundamental debate about exactly what characteristics will be influencing automotive development in tomorrow’s world. Built as more of a research subject than a concept vehicle, the GINA Light visionary model presents a vision of the future automobile based on a distinctive philosophy of its own. In the process, the study takes the limits of today’s materials and manufacturing processes and projects them far into the future. All of the innovations showcased in this model centre around the variable nature of forms and functions, with the focus placed on the driver’s individual requirements arising from a given situation or the demands of the prevailing driving conditions. The GINA Light visionary model thus features a virtually seamless outer skin, consisting of a flexible fabric material stretched over a movable substructure. Furthermore, functions are only enabled when they are actually needed. This brand new interpretation of familiar functional and structural concepts changes the way in which drivers experience their vehicle. The reduction to the essentials and adaptation to the driver’s wishes enhance the vehicle’s emotional appeal, thus fulfilling a key objective of the GINA philosophy.
BMW M1 Hommage (2008).
A design study built as a tribute to two of its predecessors: the BMW M1 (1978) and BMW Turbo (1972). The BMW M1 Hommage is impressive testimony to just how highly BMW design cherishes the brand’s heritage, and also demonstrates how this legacy can be turned into ideas for the future. It succeeds in harmoniously blending the proportions and styling cues of the BMW M1 with the surface language seen in the new BMW design line. This adds up to give the vehicle a scintillating, sporty and authentic emotive appeal.
BMW Concept Coupé Mille Miglia (2006).
The design of the BMW Concept Coupé Mille Miglia 2006 is a contemporary interpretation of the legendary BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé dating from 1940, and succeeds in contrasting the traditional with the futuristic. The concept car is a tribute to the skill, successes and visions of those motor racing pioneers, as given shape by their modern-day successors. The bodywork styling neatly balances the functional requirements relating to the positioning of the engine, powertrain units and passenger compartment with the requisite aerodynamic qualities to produce an extremely aesthetic whole. The BMW Concept Coupé instantly stands out as a highly dynamic road machine. And it is this purposeful look, dominated by dynamic lines and asymmetric forms, that injects the two-seater with its special allure.
BMW Turbo (1972).
The BMW Turbo is the first-ever concept car to have been built by BMW. The novel design of the world’s first safety sports car – which wasn’t merely a technology test bed but also a styling study – signalled an entirely new approach in the safety debate at the time. With its innovative and pioneering take on the fundamental concept of a modern car, it placed the occupant at the centre. High safety standards were highlighted by such attributes as good all-round visibility – blind spots were to be avoided as far as possible – or paintwork in striking Spectral Diamond Red with metallic effect. The safety features introduced in the BMW Turbo gradually filtered into BMW production cars, with the driver-oriented cockpit the first to be implemented. This revolutionary concept car boasted numerous innovations that are taken for granted today, including inertia-reel seat belts, for example. Indeed, the seat belts in the BMW Turbo had an added function: they closed the circuit to the ignition switch, which meant you could only drive the BMW Turbo with your seat belt on.
Near-production concept cars.
BMW Concept 4 Series Coupé (2012).
The BMW Concept 4 Series Coupé symbolises extra sportiness and exclusiveness, thereby clearly distinguishing itself from its 3 Series sibling. The concept car’s striking face is composed of crisp contours and multifaceted surfaces. The most eye-catching feature of the car’s nose beyond the familiar BMW double-kidney grille and twin circular headlights is the large air intake in the front apron. The athletic elegance of the model’s flanks stems from the flowing, classic BMW proportions and elongated silhouette.
BMW Concept Active Tourer (2012).
The harmoniously proportioned BMW Concept Active Tourer has an air of sporty elegance about it when viewed from any angle. It is concrete proof that compact dimensions, functionality and versatility are perfectly compatible with dynamic design. This plug-in hybrid proudly sports the highly expressive BMW front end that is a hallmark of the brand, while the rear clearly spells sportiness and elegance. When viewed in profile, the stretched silhouette with a suggestion of a wedge shape gives the BMW Concept Active Tourer a look of dynamism that is unrivalled in this class, even when stationary.
BMW Zagato Coupé (2012).
The BMW Zagato Coupé is a BMW as seen through the eyes of the Italian coachbuilder Zagato. The Zagato design blends styling cues taken from both companies to create an emotion-charged coupé. The sculptural and notably graphic distribution of visual mass is trademark Zagato and instantly lends the BMW Zagato Coupé its own special personality. The surface finish, on the other hand, is clearly inspired by BMW.
BMW Zagato Roadster (2012).
The BMW Zagato Roadster can be seen as a highly elegant interpretation of the BMW Zagato Coupé. The BMW Zagato Roadster is very three-dimensional, broad and powerfully formed at the front. The nose surges forward dynamically, dipping down close to the road, and allows the BMW Zagato Roadster to cut an agile figure, crouching as if about to pounce. Overall, the clearly defined distribution of visual mass and the eye-catching tail end with the hallmark BMW surface treatment and design idiom endow the BMW Zagato Roadster with an athletic dynamism all of its own.
BMW Concept Gran Coupé (2010).
The BMW Concept Gran Coupé is the epitome of high-class elegance united with supreme dynamism. The study combines sedan-like sportiness and comfort with the qualities of a classic Gran Turismo, producing a blend that captures the very essence of BMW aesthetics.
BMW Concept 6 Series Coupé (2010).
This concept is the definitive sports car for connoisseurs of beauty with a penchant for luxury and groundbreaking technology. It symbolises the BMW design team’s driving passion for aesthetic style paired with dynamic performance. The design brings together sportiness and elegance with muscular proportions and precise lines that convey a sense of formidable acceleration even before a wheel is turned.
BMW Concept 5 Series Gran Turismo (2009).
The BMW Concept 5 Series Gran Turismo melds together elegance, spaciousness and adaptability. The characteristic attributes of a prestigious sedan, a contemporary, highly versatile Sports Activity Vehicle and a classic Gran Turismo have been reinterpreted to produce a thrilling combination, the likes of which have not been seen in any other car. The BMW Concept 5 Series Gran Turismo epitomises inner luxury and demonstrates experience through the senses being used as a stylistic device in design.
BMW Concept X1 (2008).
This concept car sees the BMW designers transfer the classic character traits and design idiom of a BMW X model to a new vehicle class. Sophistication, agility, versatility and premium quality are all clearly conveyed by the concept study’s design. Pitched as an innovative vehicle concept for the premium compact segment, the BMW Concept X1 redefines standards for cool elegance, trailblazing sophistication and flexible functionality.
BMW Concept CS (2007).
The BMW Concept CS is the vision for a four-door car that unites the prestige of a luxury Gran Turismo with the fascinating allure of a high-performance sports car. Highly expressive design, the most select materials and a build quality that strives for perfection are all testimony to BMW’s perception of premium quality. Inside, the concept is awash with a sense of stylish luxury and uncompromising classiness.
BMW Concept X6 (2007).
This near-production concept car is the world’s first ever Sports Activity Coupé. The concept study showcases BMW’s vision for a unique vehicle concept that builds on the distinctive design idiom of the BMW X models while training the spotlight firmly on sportiness and an elegant presence.
BMW Concept 1 Series tii (2007).
A design study focused purely on motor racing that is based on the BMW 1 Series Coupé. The BMW Concept 1 Series tii ties in with the tradition of compact, light and extremely sporty coupés from BMW, and can be seen as a new interpretation of classic BMW brand values.
BMW Concept Z4 Coupé (2005).
The BMW Concept Z4 Coupé has been closely geared to the sporty-minded driver and performance driving, and gives its occupants the feeling of being in direct proximity to the road as well as a sense of pure driving pleasure. The sensational aesthetic appeal of the BMW Concept Z4 Coupé manifests itself in the fascinating interplay between concave and convex surfaces that converge in striking lines. Not only does this give the body its own distinct character, it imbues it with a dynamism that is plainly visible even when stationary.
BMW xActivity (2003).
Conceived as an SAV, this study provides an impressive demonstration of how sporty driving dynamics, a wide spectrum of applications and the pleasure of open-air driving can be reconciled in a single vehicle. Designed as a “frame-structure convertible” with a highly distinctive roof construction, the BMW xActivity combines various components for enhanced driving pleasure, as well as incorporating a host of remarkable details that demonstrate its tremendous functionality.
BMW Concept Study CS1 (2002).
This concept study is intended to offer a preview of a future “small” BMW. The bond between elegant lightness and powerful dynamism is the defining element of the four-seater CS1 convertible study’s design. A broad shoulderline, curving side sills and imposing wheels clearly announce its performance abilities and sturdiness
BMW X Coupé (2001).
The BMW X Coupé is a source of creative inspiration, a harbinger of BMW design in the 21st century. By fusing together a coupé and a cross-country vehicle it produces a pioneering design experience. The creative energy of the BMW X Coupé is evident in the highly expressive sculpting of its surfaces, whose quality continues to set BMW design apart even today. Asymmetric design details furthermore provide a deliberate break away from what people are used to seeing, as does the enthralling, reduced interior layout with its daring forms.
BMW Z9 Convertible (2000).
The focus of this study is clearly placed on an interior that makes motoring easier and allows the driver to concentrate on the basic tasks of driving courtesy of iDrive technology. The tautness in the surfaces and expressive lines traces the characteristic BMW profile from nose to tail. Simplification as well as emphasising and highlighting the key elements play a dominant role in the exterior’s design, too.
BMW Z9 Gran Turismo (1999).
This particular study serves to point the way ahead for automotive design in the 21st century. Clarity, dynamism and a technology that completely redefines the meaning of ergonomics for car design – BMW iDrive – are all merged together within the reduced design idiom of the BMW Z9 Gran Turismo.