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BMW turned heads once again with the Z9 gran turismo concept car when it made its North American debut at the New York International Auto Show. First unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September the year before, the Z9 is clearly a glimpse into the future of automotive design and technology. This dramatically styled sports coupe showcases innovation in both interior and exterior design, futuristic lightweight construction technology and a totally-new interaction philosophy for audio, communication, comfort, drive and other functions.

Simply Dynamic: Classic Coupe Design, Future Technology

The classic silhouette of the Z9 is dominated by the long, sleek hood and short, muscular tail. 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. Front and rear turn signals feature neon light technology, while rear lights incorporate light-emitting diodes (LED). The overall impression is clean, simple and dynamic.

The Z9 is not merely a concept for show, but a roadworthy sports coupe. As such, it incorporates technology in its construction and drivetrain which demonstrate future direction. An aluminum spaceframe provides an extremely rigid, yet lightweight chassis and carbon fiber body panels are also used due to their extreme strength combined with low weight.

Access to the interior of the four-seat sports coupe can be accomplished in two ways, thanks to the innovative design of the Z9's doors. 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. Choosing a diesel engine to power a large sports coupe is a reflection of BMW's confidence in the refinement and performance characteristics of this ground-breaking power plant.

A Revolutionary New Cockpit Design from BMW

Due to the complexity of flying modern aircraft, the aviation industry has long been the standard of man / machine interface through their innovative cockpit designs. BMW, in turn, is widely acknowledged as an innovator in driver-oriented, automotive cockpit design, and in the Z9 gran turismo introduces a revolutionary new concept for the way the driver and automobile interact: the Intuitive Interaction Concept.

Similar to the trend in today's most advanced aircraft, BMW's 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.

At the heart of the BMW Intuitive Interaction Concept is a single console-mounted rotary/push button which controls a variety of functions. 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.

The Intuitive Interaction Concept can be learned easily and quickly because the logic of the hierarchies of functions follows the natural human logic of thinking. 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.

With this concept, BMW continues to demonstrate its strengths in the areas of ground-breaking technology and ergonomic design

Source - BMW