What does the future hold for the automobile? Some brands are saying that all vehicles will come with some sort of electrification or hybrid technology. Some are even considering pure electric propulsion is the only way forward in the fight against climate change and reducing global carbon emissions.

For BMW, performance cars will always be in their DNA. The German automaker wants their M cars of the future to be high-tech and eco-friendly, while still bring joy to the driver. Their new Vision M NEXT concept is a fitting throwback to the first official M-badged car - the M1.

BMW Vision M NEXT image

Billed by the automaker as to what an 'ultimate driving machine' might look like in the future, combining hybrid mobility, eye-catching design, and intelligent driving assist features that are aimed at transforming their customers as the ultimate driver.

“The BMW Vision M NEXT provides a glimpse into the future of sporty driving. Where the BMW Vision iNEXT illustrated how autonomous driving is set to transform life on board our vehicles, the BMW Vision M NEXT demonstrates how state-of-the-art technology can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging. In both models, the focus is firmly on the people inside,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president BMW Group Design.

BMW Vision M NEXT image

The Vision M NEXT concept draws inspiration from the original M - the M1. The wedge-shaped design gives the concept a sleek and striking silhouette. It is then complemented by a huge kidney-style grill up front along with some tapered headlights. Meanwhile, giving it a retro-modern vibe comes courtesy of the louvre-style rear end and unique taillight design.

Aside from its clear-cut bodywork, the concept also comes with a bespoke paintjob. Rather than having a single paint scheme, the Vision M NEXT features a two-tone look. Both the front and rear ends are finished in Thrilling Orange while the majority of the body itself is finished in Cast Silver. For BMW, this gives the concept an air modernity and sophistication.

BMW Vision M NEXT image

Thanks to facial recognition, only the driver or assigned passenger can open the gullwing doors of the concept. Once inside, occupants are greeted by a driver-focused cabin. It features a futuristic-looking steering wheel, as well as a heads-up display with a curved glass monitor. Adding to the car’s unique look are the sculptured seats, Midnight Blue microfiber upholstery, and the Thrilling Orange trim pieces found throughout the cabin.

Since it has no gauges, the curved glass and heads-up display show real-time information directly in front of the driver’s eye-line. This allows for a more natural look and feel, as well being less distracting for the driver while on the move according to BMW.

BMW Vision M NEXT image

At the heart of the concept is a mid-engine turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid powertrain. Despite its small size, BMW claimed it makes a whopping 600 PS which allows it to sprint from 0 - 100 km/h in just three seconds. Top speed, on the other hand, is at 300 km/h. Given its hybrid nature, the powertrain can run on pure electricity for 100 km on a full charge, or run on both electric and engine power. As an added bonus, drivers can select from electric all-wheel drive or pure rear-wheel drive.

With BMW still committed in making high-performance vehicles, the Vision M NEXT concept could be BMW's way of combining green tech with M performance. Here's to hoping BMW makes this a reality.