One of the cool things about BMW as a brand, overall, is it's sense of urgency and how the company doesn't mind taking risks. Although I think it's safe to say that many didn't quite understand the brand's relationship with its design division, appropriately named Designworks.

Originally a design consultancy, it was brought into the BMW Grop as of 1995. After you see the cutting-edge work the company can do, you certainly will understand why BMW wanted to bring it under the Bavarian umbrella.

To put it simply, this company is numero uno when it comes to design. Although I can't say with complete confidence, I would wager that the i3's very unique interior was inspired by the folks at Designworks. If you haven't sat in an i3, then you need to. The choice of materials and colors is especially unique.

[Edit: Yes, Designworks played an instrumental role in the development of the i cars. It shows.]

That said, TIME recently had a very rare opportunity to go behind the scenes to see Designworks and also check out how it will help propel BMW into the very fluid future of the automobile.

For decades, BMW has advertised its vehicles as “the ultimate driving machine.” The meaning of that phrase has started to slip. In an age of connected technology, ultimate driving machines automatically brake for their passengers in emergencies or beam content from mobile phones and tablets as much as they may accelerate quickly or handle nimbly.

That puts BMW, the world’s top-selling premium automaker by sales volume, in a difficult position. It must maintain its reputation for driving dynamics while also catering to changing consumer tastes—like better fuel efficiency and more advanced technology. And it is trying to do so with competitors like Audi and Mercedes-Benz nipping at its heals. Brands ranging from Toyota to Hyundai are also trying to sell more premium vehicles.

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VIDEO: Go BEHIND The Scenes And See What BMW's Super Secretive Designworks Is Up To

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