Under that corrugated iron shed on wheels lies the mechanicals for BMW’s so-called Space Functional Concept, a luxurious, sporty MPV that will rival Mercedes’ R-class.
The Hummer-look gives an impression of the SFC’s dimensions: a little shorter than a 7-series, not quite as tall as an X5. It has to be a big car to accommodate its six seats in three rows.
Occupants will have a decent view of their surroundings, thanks to a ride height pegged between a Touring and the SUV.
But don’t think of it as a roly-poly people carrier. It should look relatively dynamic, thanks to a steeply raked roofline and BMW’s typically pared back overhangs. Expect some butch SUV design cues and big wheels.
Insiders vow that the SFC will be the ultimate driving MPV, too, hence the emergence of this chassis mule at the Nürburgring.
Underpinning the SFC is an all-new rear-wheel drive platform that will also be used for the next-generation 7- and 5-series. Four-wheel drive will be available, too.
Power comes from six- and eight-cylinder engines. All three are familiar from the revised 7-series: 258bhp 3.0-litre six, 367bhp 4.8-litre V8 and the 231bhp 3.0-litre diesel. Expect the six-cylinder engines to be coupled to a six-speed manual; a six-speed automatic on the V8.
The cabin will offer everything you’d expect of a BMW MPV, including a third generation iDrive system and optional gizmos such as a DVD player and screens to keep the kids from revolting. Sounds good. But you’ll have to wait until 2008 for BMW’s space and pace wagon to arrive in showrooms.
What is it?
This is a chassis test mule for a BMW MPV to rival Mercedes’ R-class. The finished thing won’t look like a Hummer.
The Space Functional Concept is underpinned by a version of the next 7-series’ rear-wheel drive platform.
Three engines will be offered: 3.0-litre petrol and diesels and a 367bhp V8, with six speed manual or an auto ’box