New spy shots show next flagship luxury BMW in detail
15 May 2008

The BMW 7-Series has been caught testing in Germany. Autocar’s latest spyshots reveal the new, long wheelbase, limousine-like luxury version for the first time.Sources say development is almost complete on the 2009 7-series, BMW’s flagship luxury car, which will be unveiled at the Paris motor show in September. We know the smaller, standard new 7-series (also pictured here in testing) is much larger than the current model, both in height and length. In fact, it’s around 5.1 metres long without the longer wheelbase. But despite the new model’s significantly larger proportions, BMW chief designer Chris Bangle claims the next 7-series has been styled to hide its extra bulk, and a number of body panels are made of aluminium to reduce weight.The finished 2009 BMW 7-series is also expected to adopt a more conventional look than its predecessor. Changes are expected around the front and rear where the headlights and tail lamp clusters will set the tone for the next generation of BMWs. The new 7-series will also get green technology like stop/start (visible on the dash in our shots) and is expected to feature other elements of the Efficient Dynamics programme, including regenerative braking.BMW’s iDrive system is retained, although our pictures reveal that the joystick controller has been relocated to the centre console. The new 2009 models will be the first BMWs to get ZF’s new eight-speed gearbox and there’s also the possibility of a four-wheel-drive system for the first time.BMW will want to improve the 7-series handling characteristics, stability and could benefit by launching a rival to Audi’s A8 quattro and Mercedes 4-matic S-class. However the company is conscious of keeping weight down to help improve economy. That said, the flagship V12 petrol version will live on - notably aimed at customers in China - but the more common V8 diesel will be dropped and downsized. In its place we should expect a twin-turbo six-cylinder diesel unit, with better fuel efficiency and therefore lower CO2 emissions than its forebear.

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Will Powell

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