If the 2023 BMW Vision M Next is anything to go by, we may have seen the last of sports supercars being launched with whopping 6-litre V-12s under their bonnets.

The Vision M boasts ‘only’ a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo for power, but aided by a couple of electric motors with torque to spare, the power unit delivers an impressive 600-horsepower. The driver will be able to select electric all-wheel drive or good old-fashioned rear-wheel drive, a nice choice to be able to make.

The Vision M Next is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or PHEV and it’s spearheading the direction in which BMW plans to go in the coming years. BMW points out that this is the first step towards an all-electric M-car. PHEVs are certainly one of the best routes for buyers who like the idea of an electric car, but are daunted by ‘range anxiety’ problems. The Vison M does have an all-electric range of around 100 km – all most people need for a day of local driving. And when pure EV capability begins to fade, the compact turbo petrol engine is there to take over for mobility and battery charging.

This radical new BMW was rolled out at the prestigious Monterey Car Week in California not long ago and although BMW wasn’t saying much, most insiders noted that 2023 would see the first cars roll off the production line. This would be appropriate because BMW’s earlier plug-in hybrid supercar, the i8, has been discontinued. There is a relationship between i8 and Vision M styling and there’s even a hint of some influence from the much-admired M1 from the 1970s.

As might be expected, much of the Vision bodywork is carbon fibre. Lightness is an important factor in any hybrid or EV in order to optimise the power unit. The prototype that’s been displayed at various shows is finished in a stunning metallic silver and dayglo orange. If a paint job like that doesn’t grab envious admirers, nothing will.

Looking at concept cars, it’s always tricky to figure out exactly what a production model will look like. Often, manufacturers ‘market test’ features to try and gauge public approval. It’s possible that the somewhat weird steering wheel in the Vision M falls into this category, though race drivers have had similar designs for years. The cockpit is understandably packed with fascinating tech features from a gyroscopic cup holder on up, but you wouldn’t know it because it’s a very clean design, devoid of the myriad switches, gauges and buttons you’ll find in the average supercar. The key dash feature is the screen that seems to wrap around the area ahead of the steering wheel. This screen offers all the information any driver is likely to need.

There may be a high level of automation, but BMW emphasises that it has placed the focus on ‘actively engaged drivers’ and there is no talk of an autonomous version. For years, BMW’s slogan has been ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ so its good to know that the fabled Munich carmaker is not contemplating an ‘ultimate self-driving machine,’ at least, not for sports car enthusiasts. There’s no question that opening the scissor doors and climbing behind the wheel of a Vision M NEXT is going to be a very special experience indeed. Few supercars will be as eagerly awaited as this one.

ENGINE: Plug-in hybrid with 2.0-litre turbo 4-cylinder plus two electric motors. 600-horsepower estimated.

TRANSMISSION: No transmission in the normal sense. Maximum torque available from zero km/h.

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h in 3.0-seconds.

TOP SPEED: 300 km/h.

I LIKED: A stunning and radical effort by BMW to create an environmentally efficient sports car with outstanding looks and performance. Good range (100 km) in EV mode, useful to have in emission-free zones cities may well designate soon.

I DIDN’T LIKE: Many pioneering control systems are still untried in the marketplace, so early adopters may experience technical teething problems.

MARKET ALTERNATIVES: Mercedes-AMG GT Hybrid, Lotus Evija, Aston Martin Project 003, Jaguar J-Type, plus several more under development.

WHO DRIVES ONE? BMW enthusiasts who must have the latest and greatest. Climate activists with money.