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This week, BMW unwrapped the Vision Neue Klasse X concept. If last year’s Vision Neue Klasse was a glimpse at an all-electric 3 Series sports sedan of the future, the Vision Neue Klasse X is tomorrow’s battery-powered X3.

Like most concept vehicles, the Neue Klasse X has a minimalist dashboard defined by a full-width digital instrument panel and a central touchscreen, with hardly any buttons or knobs to be seen. But glimpse the front door panels, and you’ll find old-fashioned seat-adjuster buttons, almost exactly like what you’d find in a 30-year-old luxury car.

“As we know, people adjust the seat a little bit while driving,” a BMW representative told me at the media preview of the Vision Neue Klasse X in Portugal. “It’s a very intuitive way, without looking to a display, to adjust your seat. This is one of the things where it makes sense to keep these [physical] control elements.”

BMW Vision Neue Klasse X SUV Concept

The Vision Neue Klasse X is not completely touch-free, of course. The X concept includes a new multi-function steering wheel, which absorbs the physical controls that would have previously been handled by an iDrive knob on the center console (RIP). BMW says the steering-wheel-mounted controls allowed designers to place the center-dashboard screen in the ideal position, making it easily visible without impinging on the driver’s view through the windshield.

And while the Vision Neue Klasse X presents a button-free dashboard, reality dictates that the eventual production version will be a bit less minimalist.

“We listened really carefully to what customers gave us during our customer clinics, and we got that feedback,” a BMW representative told Motor1 during the Vision Neue Klasse X media preview in Portugal. “We will not have the iDrive controller in the car anymore, I think this is clear. We have that wonderful multifunctional steering wheel and the panoramic vision stage, but for other functionalities we will have knobs where it is necessary. It’s not a knob- or control-element-free car, that’s not our vision.”

BMW Vision Neue Klasse X SUV Concept

When the Vision Neue Klasse X goes into production, the BMW rep continued, it will feature a mix of haptic-feedback buttons in the steering wheel and physical buttons elsewhere in the interior. 

“For the most important functions, there will be the right knobs in the right place,” the BMW representative told Motor1. “This is still a Vision car, so stay tuned to see how the final version will be.”

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