BMW's latest concept car, The Vision EfficientDynamics, will be seen in the metal for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The complaint that the motor manufacturers show dramatic concept cars and then disappoint with watered-down production models is probably as old as the industry itself but here the gap between BMW's low-slung slinky Vision EfficientDynamics and its recent production cars such as the lumpy X6 and Gran Turismo, is especially marked.

BMW tells us that the Vision EfficientDynamics “takes styling cues from the marque's involvement in Formula 1”. Unfortunately the company announced its withdrawal from top-level motor sport just a few weeks ago – perhaps between finalising the design of the Vision EfficientDynamics and its going on show at Frankfurt. Presumably, any emerging design direction at BMW that draws upon that particular source of inspiration doesn't have much of a future.

Actually, it's what's under the skin of this car that has much more relevance for the sorts of BMWs that normal customers will be able to buy in future. The Vision EfficientDynamics is a hybrid that makes use of a 1.5 litre three-cylinder diesel engine and two electric motors. The diesel delivers 163 horsepower, or 109 horsepower per litre of capacity. Although BMW says this horsepower-per-litre figure is a record, it is actually only a slight advance on that already achieved by the impressive two-litre diesel in the 123d. That suggests that the 1.5 litre three may be the basis of a power unit that is quite close to production, rather than some exotic research project of only long-term significance.

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