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BMW’s Next-Generation 7-Series Flagship Close to Launch

June 30, 2008

MUNICH, GERMANY– BMW’s next-generation 7-series saloon has been spotted at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit aheadof its official reveal expected next month. The current 7-series was the firstBMW model to introduce the notorious ‘Bangle butt’ boot lid and flame surfacedesign language, but for its successor designers have gone with a moreconservative look, according to

The new7-series receives a longer wheelbase and wider track, increasing interior space,and improving handling. The prototype’s front end also appears much longer thanthe current model, although its overhangs have been kept short. This design hasallowed engineers to push the front axle further out, increasing the car’s footprintand thus improving dynamics. It also gives the car a wheel-at-each cornerappearance, making it look smaller than it actually is as well as adding a bitof sportiness to its styling.

While theexterior changes appear to have been kept to a minimum, there are rumored to bea raft of significant upgrades underneath the new sheet-metal to help push the7-series ahead of its Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Audi A8 rivals in thetechnological stakes.

BMW isexpected to install a new eight-speed automatic from German transmissionspecialist ZF that will boost fuel-consumption and performance compared to thecurrent model’s six-speed unit. There will also be a hybrid option based on thenew two-mode hybrid system developed in partnership with General Motors, Daimlerand Chrysler.

Thehybrid variant will feature a petrol powered engine mated to a compactgenerator-motor mounted directly onto the gearbox. The electric motor will bepowered by an array of lithium-ion batteries in the boot, which can be chargedup using conventional brake-energy regeneration technology. Its launch, however,is still several years away, according to

Thepowertrain lineup for the new seven-series range will include everything fromfour-cylinder turbodiesels up to V-12 petrol mills. The car will also likelypick up the same 298kW 4.4-liter V-8 from the recently introduced X6.

Interiorfeatures will include an upgraded radar cruise control system with automaticbraking plus a new camera-based lane departure and blind-spot warning system.There’s also the possibility of a new dual-view display screen that allowspassengers to watch two different images from a single screen depending on theangle they’re sitting at. This means the front passenger and driver would seetwo separate images when looking at the single display, a set-up that couldpotentially be used to display a satnav map for the driver and entertainmentprograms for passengers simultaneously. A more advanced night vision systemwith pedestrian and speed sign detection features will also be introduced forthis model.

LatestBMW models are usually launched in Australia several months after theyfirst go on sale overseas, so expect to see the new range in local showroomsearly next year. The hybrid model, if offered in Australia, will likely arrivearound 2010 or later.

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