BMW Z9 Concept (1999)
Unveiled at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Z9 Concept represented an important turning point in the subsequent evolution of BMW’s design language. Among the features were an aluminium space frame and a V8 turbodiesel unit.
From the original Press Release:
The carbon fiber body panels are mounted on an aluminum spaceframe chassis offering both high rigidity and light weight.
The "face" of the Z9 incorporates trademark BMW design elements, such as the dual round headlights flanking the central kidney grille.
Large diameter wheels – 20-inch at the front and 21-inch at the rear – impart a powerful and dynamic presence to the Z9.
"The overall impression is clean, simple and dynamic."
Front and rear turn signals feature neon light technology, while rear lights incorporate light-emitting diodes (LED).
For access to both front and rear seats, the full-length gullwing doors can be opened automatically at the press of a button on the electronic key.
Conventional, front-hinged doors are designed into each gullwing door and allow the driver or front passenger to access the coupe in the normal fashion.
Power is supplied by the world’s first V8 turbodiesel engine, which was introduced previously in the 740d.
This 3.9-liter engine incorporates common rail, direct injection and produces more torque than any production engine in BMW’s history. Peak torque is a staggering 413 lb-ft., and maximum horsepower is 245.
Similar to the trend in today’s most advanced aircraft, the Intuitive Interaction Concept reduces the traditional array of switches, controls and instruments to a minimum.
For example, in 1970 a Boeing 747 cockpit contained 965 separate switches, knobs and dials, and more than 100 individual displays.
Today’s Boeing 777 has reduced the number of switches, knobs and dials by two-thirds and now contains only six displays. Consequently, the Z9 has only a starter button and light switch on its dash.
This single module allows the user to select and operate several hundred functions within the automobile. Used in conjunction with a monitor and four large buttons arranged in a square around the central rotary/push button, all drive, comfort, communication and audio functions can be easily activated.
The rotary/push button falls readily to hand for the driver and front seat passenger and allows the driver to activate functions without the need to look at them while driving.
A large 8.8-inch monitor in the center of the dashboard displays all the information the driver requires in a simple graphic display, apart from the speedometer and tachometer which are conventional analog instruments.
The monitor is positioned within the driver’s field of vision, allowing it to be viewed while concentrating attention on the road ahead.
All functions are grouped logically in the four categories – Drive, Comfort, Communication and Audio, with the most important and most frequently used functions on the highest hierarchy levels in each group.
A small lever on the steering column allows the driver to select between "Drive" and "Reverse" to engage the STEPTRONIC transmission, while buttons on the steering wheel can be used for manually shifting gears.