A BMW concept car built to display an advanced dashboard driving and control unit has been attracting chequebook offers, a leading car manufacturer at the International Motor Show in Birmingham has revealed.

But BMW has no plans to move the Z9 convertible concept model to production, according to regional sales manager Terence Barry, despite the fact that hundreds of people have been inquiring about its price and availability for sale in the future.

He said: "The Z9 concept is principally here to display the new I-drive system inside the car which has been developed to re-focus on the driving experience. And this will be featuring in a production BMW within the next 12 to 18 months.

"The actual body has not been designed for production but it does showcase general developments to the exterior such as simpler design lines flowing from the front to the rear The 20 and 21-inch hand-cut wheels and the car's sexy rear in particular have been attracting comments."

Inside the car, the dashboard houses a driving zone and a comfort zone. The first places driving-related controls immediately in front of the driver, including steptronic gears on the steering column.

Towards the centre of the dashboard the comfort zone features a television screen at the driver's eye level and a unique joystick-cum- mouse control on the central console, which has been called an ergo- commander.

"The I-drive system places all the essential functions for driving around the steering wheel and maximises the safety and comfort of the driving experience. And this is a key brand strength of BMW," Barry said.

"The comfort zone uses a central screen as close to the drivers field of vision as possible, which allows the driver to access other functions such as navigation, telephone and e-mail services and television using one control.

"The control will become second nature and is designed to learn what you want to do, for example, placing your most frequently-used telephone number at the top of the screen menu," he added.

"The reaction to the car has been phenomenal and at least two dozen people have been trying to place an order since we started a few days ago. Some were even offering to take their chequebooks out on the stand."They wouldn't believe we have no plans to produce the car, saying 'well you always say that'" he added.