Features

BMW’s most outlandish concept cars

The Rolls Royce Vision is just the tip of the iceberg for unusual BMW concepts

Concept cars have long been an outlet through which designers express themselves, but the latest Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 concept takes that outlet and stretches it into a cave.

It’s a divisive car, to put it mildly, but its real purpose is – like all good concept cars – to illustrate features that might become a production norm later down the line. With Rolls-Royce concentrating on luxury, refinement and letting people know you’ve arrived, it’s hard not to describe the concept as a success.

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But it’s far from the first outlandish concept issued from the doors of parent company BMW over the last few years. We’ve pulled together a brief list of others that have proven equally divisive, from the stretching skin of the GINA to the dubious homage of the CSL Hommage.

BMW Vision Next 100

Prior to the latest Rolls-Royce concept, this was BMW’s most recent dabble with cars of the distant future. A sports saloon – if not by the same standards as today – the car is autonomous and features triangular elements on the bodywork and inside the cabin that can shift around, allowing – for example – the shrouded wheels to steer.

Mini Rocketman

Like the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100, we’re pulling Mini under the BMW banner, and the Rocketman is one of the firm’s more intriguing concepts. For a start, it would be the first truly small Mini since the Rover days. It’s now clear the model largely previewed the look of the current-generation Mini, though rumours persist the company is looking at a sub-Mini Mini, and the Rocketman is one potential form it could take.

BMW i8 Concept

Perhaps the most familiar car on this list, not least as it’s the only model here that has thus far made it to production. By the time it debuted at the Frankfurt motor show in 2011 it’s likely the final design of the production version had already been signed off – as is frequently the way these days – but it’s still remarkable how little BMW had to change. Only the doors are significantly different. Of course, the i8 Concept also previewed the production car’s plug-in hybrid drivetrain, with claimed figures of 104mpg and 0-62mph in under five seconds.

BMW GINA Light Visionary Model

The heavily sculpted GINA had a slightly disconcerting party trick – the ability for certain parts of its stretching fabric bodywork to peel away, to reveal the engine for instance, or admit occupants. There’s an uncomfortable impression of peeling flesh about it, though thankfully it’s a technology we’re unlikely to see any time soon.

BMW 328 Hommage

Not, as you’ve probably guessed, a homage to a 3-series, but instead to the 1930s roadster of the same name. Unveiled in 2011, it celebrated 75 years of the 328, and mixed modern sports car proportions with retro cues, such as leather bonnet straps, a classic tall BMW kidney grille and multi-hole alloy wheels.

BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe

Revealed in 2013 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the Gran Lusso Coupe is one of the more beautiful BMW concepts of late. That’s probably not a surprise, given Pininfarina’s involvement, but with long, low and elegant bodywork and a relatively restrained interior, it suggests BMW hasn’t completely abandoned its better-known tenets as it embraces automation, technology and alternative powertrains.

BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage

BMW’s Hommage [sic] concepts strongly reference cars from the company’s past, but one of the more blatant homages is the 3.0 CSL concept. Painted in the same Golf Yellow its predecessor was available in, the CSL concept takes the original’s raison d’etre, light weight, and brings it up to date with a carbonfibre structure.

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