Flagship BMW iNEXT SUV spotted in winter testing ahead of planned debut in 2021 Last Updated: 25 Mar 2019t
A new BMW electric SUV is being developed, and official pictures from its winter testing programme in Sweden have given us our first real taste of what it’ll look like.
Based on the Vision iNEXT concept that was revealed in September 2018, the BMW iNEXT forms the basis of a production car that will become the technological flagship for the company’s range of i models in around two years’ time.
BMW Vision iNEXT styling
Several key changes have been made to the design since the concept was unveiled: the rear suicide doors have made way for conventional ones, and the grille has shrunk in size and been joined by an extra air intake.
Meanwhile the B-pillar has been reintroduced, and the concept’s wing-mounted cameras have been replaced with cheaper mirrors.
Initially, the Vision iNEXT concept took its inspiration from the BMW X7, boasting upright gills at each corner of the front apron and a ‘Streamflow’ window line designed to mark out the car as an ‘i’ vehicle.
The blanked-off grille was intended to show that the Vision iNEXT concept was an electric car, simultaneously housing many of the sensors required for the level 3 autonomous driving features BMW is targeting for 2021. It’s not yet clear if these will be relocated by the time the production model is signed off.
The testing images give nothing away about the iNEXT’s interior design, so we’ve only got the concept’s layout to inform us for now. It included all manner of amazing features, such as a steering wheel that collapses into the dashboard when the car is in autonomous mode, and touch-sensitive panels built into the fabric of the rear seats.
These would allow passengers to control minor functions like the audio volume, but there’s no chance they’ll appear in the production car.
So far, BMW hasn’t made any mention of performance figures for the iNEXT, however we do know it will feature a pure electric drivetrain. The purpose of the winter testing programme in Arjeplog, Sweden, is to assess the all-wheel-drive system in cold conditions, as well as monitor the performance of the electric motor and battery.
The BMW i4 – a premium four-door coupe – is set to use the same platform, and will support a maximum battery size of 120kWh, for a range of 435 miles. The iNEXT is a larger vehicle, and BMW says it will achieve an official range in excess of 373 miles. The platform for the iNEXT will support petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid vehicles, too.