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BMW readies 'Bangled' 5-series estate

This is BMW's new E60 5-series estate, caught on a photographic shoot in South Africa. This late pre-production car is being used for brochure and press photography in preparation for the E60 estate's public debut at the Geneva Show next March.

The estate successfully builds on the bold new BMW design language developed under the direction of Chris Bangle. Like the current 5-series estate, the E60 version features a rakish D-pillar to emphasise style at the expense of ultimate load carrying capacity, although the longer wheelbase and extra width of the new model should mean more cargo room.

The car shown here reveals the massive glass sunroof that will be available as an option on the E60 estate. The rear window opens independently of the tailgate, which will probably be offered with power assisted operation to match Mercedes-Benz's new E-class estate. Aluminium intensive construction promises a clear weight advantage over rivals, with the added benefit of improved performance.

Powertrains will follow the E60 saloon, with the punchy 3.0-litre straight six turbodiesel expected to be the volume seller in the UK. Other engine options will include the 231bhp 3.0-litre petrol six, and the 333bhp 4.4-litre petrol. Both the manual and automatic transmissions are six speed.

BMW is rumoured to be working on an M5 version of the E60 estate, complete with the V10 engine that's said to be capable of delivering 550bhp. If built, the car will also include the six-speed SMG sequential manual transmission and 19-inch alloy wheels. A new M5 estate would be a logical rival for the Mercedes-Benz E55 estate and Audi's RS6 estate, and BMW offered an M version of the E34 5-series estate in the late 1980s.

The E60 estate is scheduled to go on sale in the UK from next May.

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