Home » The BMW Neue Klasse Concept May Be Re-Introducing Something Unexpected And Important: A Real Bumper (Sort Of)

The BMW Neue Klasse Concept May Be Re-Introducing Something Unexpected And Important: A Real Bumper (Sort Of)

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We covered BMW’s bold new concept car, the Vision Neue Klasse, over this weekend, and it’s a pretty big deal for BMW. This concept seems to be telegraphing the design direction of near-future BMWs, and takes a good bit of its proportions and character from the past, while being very unapologetically modern. There’s one particular detail about the car that I think is worth mentioning, because I haven’t really seen it covered all that much in the various writeups about this car over the internet, fax, and telegraph networks. That detail is: bumpers. Specifically the big, almost clunky, but useful rear “bumper.”

Sure, they’re diffusers. I know. But let’s just take a moment and think of them as a step to what could be a new age of functional bumpers. Indulge me.

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Yes, big clunky bumpers! Just as Autogod intended! These were first pointed out to me by our own unhinged designer, The Bishop, and once he did, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Here, look for yourself:

Rearbumper

Sure, they paid zero attention to where a license plate would have to go, but, what the hell, it’s a concept — we can let that slide. For now.

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The front has a pretty prominent diffuser/bumper as well:

Frontbumper

Now, before you pedants get all worked up and raise your index fingers in the air like little fleshy-colored obelisks, I know that, yes, again these are technically diffusers. The front one especially. But, at the same time, they’re also made of a rugged-looking contrasting color material, quite contrary to modern automotive design where there are effectively no exterior bumpers, with the impact beams being behind a plastic, painted bumper cover that is integrated with the body.

Hell, even BMW did it the now-common way on the previous iteration of the car, the iVision Dee Concept from January:

Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

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See? No diffuser/bumper things! If you back into a bollard or a shopping cart or a yak carcass, you’re in for expensive repairs because everything that makes contact is covered in paint and is shiny and unforgiving of damage, just like almost all modern mainstream cars on the road today.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. If we look at a member of the original Neue Klasse, we see examples of often-reviled but absolutely functional protective 5 mph bumpers:

Bigbumper

These sorts of diving board/battering ram bumpers may have been inelegant, but they worked. Minor wrecks in modern cars, with all their expensive sensors and lights right at the corners, vulnerable as a sacrificial beast strapped to a juggernaut, are expensive nightmares. Is it possible that BMW recognizes this, and is taking steps to do something about it?

That’s a lot of faith to put in BMW. But then I see that big-ass rear spoiler/bumper, made of some sort of dark composite material, and can’t help but be reminded of massive bumpers of the past. Just look at these things:

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Rearbumper

…and tell me you don’t see at least a bit of a resemblance to these:

Cs Fiatx19bump2You see what I’m saying, right? The BMW concept has made them a bit more elegant and integrated, but not that elegant and integrated, and I like that. This concept, pushed the right way, could evolve into a modern re-casting of genuinely useful bumpers that weren’t painted nor integrated into the body. Bumpers designed to bump, to absorb impacts and damage and shrug them off with the confident aplomb of a prizefighter.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’re just clunky diffusers and will be gone or overly integrated by the time this concept spawns a production vehicle. Or maybe, just maybe, this is the glimmer of new cars that can be a bit forgiving and take a bump without hurtling the owner into bankruptcy.

Just let me dream. Of bumpers.

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The BMW ‘Vision Neue Klasse’ Concept Is Promising A Lot For The Future Of BMW

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Marteau
Marteau
9 months ago

@torch, you should check the new tortured Peugeot, they all have a 10cms black bumper in the back since years.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
9 months ago

“Now, before you pedants get all worked up and raise your index fingers in the air like little fleshy-colored obelisks, I know that, yes, again these are technically diffusers.”

Technically the rear one is a trim mounted on the top of what might be a diffuser underneath the car, and technically the front one is certainly not a diffuser but is a splitter.

Greg
Greg
9 months ago

Would love it if bumpers came back. I’ve hit a few trees sliding at slow speeds in the winter time that caused a lot of damage a real bumper would have laughed at.

Anders
Anders
9 months ago

I think car designers must hate bumpers.. The design legacy of Jan Wilsgaard, designer of the Volvo 240, is sadly long forgotten. He managed to make bumpers look both purposeful and brutal on the 240, an lithe and elegant on the P1800. We need more proper bumpers!

Anders
Anders
9 months ago
Reply to  Anders

Oh!…he didn’t design the P1800, but it still has beautiful bumpers… I wonder which car has the prettiest bumpers?

Ncbrit
Ncbrit
9 months ago
Reply to  Anders

Series 1 E-Type

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago
Reply to  Ncbrit

Early Porsche blades are elegant too

VanGuy
VanGuy
9 months ago
Reply to  Anders

I had a ’97 Ford Econoline conversion van for several years and when you’re shopping for them used, you can count on seeing the dents in the rear chrome bumpers. Even mine had a couple I put into it myself.
My favorite was one time (early in owning the van, so please don’t judge me too harshly) backing up in parking lot, intending to lightly hit the concrete stop with the tires to know when to stop, only to hit the concrete lamppost behind it with the bumper first. It wasn’t even an extended body van; the lamppost was just that close.

AlfaWhiz
AlfaWhiz
9 months ago

It does not matter, because in the production version both the front and rear bumpers will be fully obstructed by the enormous front grille.

VanGuy
VanGuy
9 months ago
Reply to  AlfaWhiz

I’ll never truly understand car aesthetics to such a degree that I can empathize rather than merely sympathize with others’ tastes, but I definitely have never understood the hate for modern BMW grilles.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago

What’s the point of a bumper if it doesn’t jut out past the front or rear sheet metal?

This is a halb-Arsch solution.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
9 months ago

They might not be able to bump, but if they were made out of rubber, they could at least take a scrape from a curb or a parking-space bumper, eliminating the risk of scuffing the front lip in particular, or backing over a small rock. I imagine they’ll be plastic if they make it to production, but maybe they don’t have to be.

Last edited 9 months ago by FuzzyPlushroom
Tristan Hixon
Tristan Hixon
9 months ago
Reply to  FuzzyPlushroom

That ’90s gray plastic could handle bumps and scrapes with aplomb. We should bring that back.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago
Reply to  FuzzyPlushroom

That’s typical of a Bayerische Mist Wagen

Iain Tunmore
Iain Tunmore
9 months ago

These bumpers would appear to be next step to production from the previous concept. One function they would serve, well the front one at least, is to meet (European, not sure about US) pedestrian impact legislation. In side profile, without the black ‘bumper’ the nose is slanted forward, protruding most at the top. This would be a problem in two ways:
1. It would make pedestrians much more likely to get pulled under the vehicle in impact rather than scooped onto the bonnet.
2. It creates a shear force across the knee of the pedestrian where the leg is hit above it before below it, ideally you want impact above and below simultaneously so there is no shear of the knee joint.

The black bumper protrudes almost equally with the nose, minimising shear and means pedestrians get scooped onto the soft (relatively) bonnet and windscreen.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Okay enough bickering I will provide the proper response. All bumpers should be encapsulated into the body during parking and driving. They should be hydraulically operated so that when you hit the brakes they shoot out and protect the car and the hydraulics actually help save damage as they recess based on force hit. That protects a car from the ugliness but provides complete protection. This is my idea show me one other car person that thought of this? WINNING.

W124
W124
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

ThIs is surprisingly good take.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  W124

Thank you.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

What about those instances where you fail to hit the brakes? And what about in the rear?

They’re passive devices.

Last edited 9 months ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Greg
Greg
9 months ago

triggered with emergency breaking features and warnings.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Well since recessed you can do this on all bumpers even new side types since you can hide them. As for unexpected, well you can’t prepare for everything. I guess everyone still has too pay attention. I still think it’s an improvement

Greg
Greg
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

are you a tractor/construction worker on your spare time?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Nope used to drive not anymore.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
9 months ago

Look Man, this is a very specific troll. I noticed them immediately yesterday for what they are; prototype diffusers surprisingly fabricated from off-spec. EPP or EPS. The modeling is a result of bead color change contamination.It is difficult to remove every last static cling bead from the hopper and feed lines. We once tried to convince Gateway Computers that this was “value added” in the packaging materials we supplied them by exaggerating the effect to mimic their cow hide pattern.They didn’t go for it.
I believe most have tired of my relentless push for proper bumpers, and descriptions of how the energy absorbing qualities of EPP bumper cores are to be implemented. EPP (multiple hits 99% recovery) EPE (multiple, lower density packaging) and EPS( cheapest packaging,one and done). All are subject to UV degradation, and must be covered or coated to be exposed to sunlight.
I did address the improper implementation at the end of yesterday’s comment.

As for “The BMW Vision Neue Klasse” Not Earl Grey Hot, and what is with making the expensive bits First Contact, and Constitution Class UI. “Computer, Disengage, disentangle, then eject core” thank you very much.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
9 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Forgot to mention, the EV-GTI HAS PROPER BUMPERS!

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
9 months ago

I’ll always prefer the 2002. Such a pure design.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

I, too, would welcome the return of external bumpers both for the reasons you mentioned and because my eyes aren’t what they used to be. To beseech the gods of auto design, let’s all assume the lotus position and do the bumper chant:

Rubber baby buggy bumpers, rubber baby buggy bumpers, rubber baby buggy bumpers …

Sbzr
Sbzr
9 months ago

if not the complete bumper I wish they could make it kinda modular like it used to so at least you can exchange the scuffed section and not need an entire parts paint job

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
9 months ago

These diffusers are too low to function as bumpers, especially on today’s SUV & truck heavy roads. A RAV-4 is going to plow straight into those taillights.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
9 months ago

Not to mention that as diffusers, they’re going to move things in the exact opposite that bumpers would have – even more fragile, expensive stuff to break in a completely minor accident.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
9 months ago

I think they’re just diffusers, but I like the contrast to the body color. The concept with no “bumpers” just looks incomplete.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
9 months ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

Yup… just a case of man with bumper fetish seeing a bumper that actually isn’t one. Like that buxom girl you notice a block away… up close, oh shit she is flat, it’s all bra.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

With all due respect, that is a messed up analogy, friendo.

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