Last month we went hands-on with the new BMW Neue Klasse X concept and came away incredibly impressed with the design and technology behind it all. But there was one piece of technology that was blew our minds and could radically reshape MINI’s in-car interface by the end of the decade.

In yesterday’s part 1 of our report on BMW radical Neue Klasse X concept, we focused on how it could influence the next generation electric Countryman’s range and performance. Today we’re we’re talking tech and how BMW’s new iDrive (specifically it’s Panoramic Display) could make its way into MINI’s starting with the next generation electric Countryman – due sooner than you might think.

While the technical advancements of the Neue Klasse platform are impressive, perhaps the most exciting aspect that might find its way in MINIs is the interior technology. We say might because we have no sources yet telling us this. But it’s logical to assume MINI would be looking at leveraging the revolutionary new BMW Panoramic Display and elements of the new iDrive concept destined for the Neue Klasse generation of BMWs.

You can easily imagine a similar windshield based experience in future MINIs

What’s the Panoramic Display? It’s part of a new generation of iDrive based on the same tech that underpins the latest MINI circular display. But before we get into that aspect of BMWs new infotainment concept, let’s talk about the bigger picture. There are four key components to this system; a multifunction steering wheel controller, the central display with matrix backlighting and local dimming, the Panoramic Display and a 3D (augmented reality) heads-up display. What’s immediately apparent with this concept is that BMW will be reducing the screen size in its future cars – bucking the trend we see elsewhere. They can do that because of how well the Panoramic Vision windshield projection and heads-up display integrated into he entire experience. But the real standout here is the Panoramic Display that is unlike anything we’ve seen before. 

The Panoramic Vision actually isn’t a screen but actually three separate 4K projectors that project light onto a black band at the bottom of the windshield. With projection BMW can use nothing more than standard automotive glass keeping product costs and potential rock-chip related repair bills down. It’s also using an area that is both historically dead space in a car and one that is the direct line of sight of a driver. In so many ways it feels like a logical conclusion to where infotainment system design has been going. 

In our brief hands-on time with the system in the Neue Klass and the Neue Klasse X, we were blown away at both its simplicity and its functionality. It had that rare experience of being both incredibly intuitive while being even more function rich than before.

The Magical Panoramic Vision

Then it gets really cool. Any of the widgets can be swiped up and into the Panoramic Vision. There are a handful of widget areas so a swipe up to the left puts the widget directly into the driver’s field of view for instance. It’s an ingenious system that, while technically complex feels utterly intuitive and simple.

This interplay between the experience zones is just one aspect of the system however. BMW is also introducing a 3D HUD above the Panoramic Vision, centered on driver. It will allow for augmented reality displays of information as a 3rd layer of experience.

Designers have also connected inputs and reactions to light in the cabin. So there are subtle lights that responds to inputs like temperature and volume changes. It helps to emphasize the interaction and also gives the car the feeling like it’s alive and at your beckon.

In our brief time with the system we were genuinely impressed how thoughtfully each of the displays and inputs areas worked together. And the addition of functionality while feeling more intuitive than previous versions of the already excellent iDrive system was a surprise.

But it’s the Panoramic Display that signaled something entirely new in the world of automotive infotainment. Leveraging dead space to improve safety while adding functionality seems impossible but that’s exactly what BMW designers have accomplished.

The BMW Panoramic Display will debut with the Neue Klasse generation of electric vehicles in 2025 and will likely also be part of BMW’s last generation of ICE cars as well. While we have no direct knowledge of MINI making use of this concept, it would be hard to imagine the brand not leveraging some version of the technology in the years ahead. It’s just that good.

You can read our full review of the BMW Neue Klasse Concept X at our sister publication BimmerFile: Hands-On First Impressions Of The BMW Vision Neue Klasse X