The very first prototypes of the seventh-generation BMW 5-series have hit the road in Germany ahead of a planned arrival in UK showrooms by early 2016.
Clothed in the same body as today’s model, the new 5-series prototype caught here doesn’t provide many clues to the appearance of the new model, which has been styled under the guise of BMW design boss Karim Habib.
However, an evolutionary approach looks set to keep it close to its predecessor in size. The new 5-series will be about 4910mm long, 1875mm wide and 1470mm tall. As with today’s 5-series, the new model will be sold in three body styles: saloon, Touring and Gran Turismo liftback.
The new BMW has been conceived around a lightly modified version of the high-strength steel monocoque platform structure used by the existing 5-series.
But in a programme that will affect all future BMW models, engineers are planning measures that will enable the new car to shed up to 100kg. Insiders say that the move will allow the entry-level 520i to weigh less than 1500kg.
Among the changes set to be implemented are aluminium bulkhead elements and a greater percentage of tailored blanks (high-strength steel in varying thickness) throughout the floorpan. Other weight-saving measures are being considered, including the use of carbonfibre in non-load-bearing elements such as the bonnet, roof and bootlid.
BMW is planning to give the forthcoming 5-series a new generation of turbocharged four-cylinder and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines in a move that, sources suggest, will bring average fuel savings of up to 10 per cent across the line-up.
The new modular units share a common architecture with the BMW’s upcoming three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, with individual cylinder capacities of 500cc.
BMW is yet to commit to V8 petrol engines for the new 5-series. However, plans for a series of plug-in hybrid models using technology sourced from its technical partnership with Toyota are already well advanced, according to Munich-based sources.