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Spy shot: BMW 7-series

BMW’s next-generation 7-series has broken cover, revealing the dynamic dimensions of the 2008 saloon.

The oil tanker proportions of today’s car are replaced by a more sporting saloon. The roofline is more raked, wheelarches more pumped up and the wheels look less dwarfed by the body.

Under the disguise lurk a new headlamp design and more sculptured sheet metal, and the current car’s convex and concave surfaces and frenetic shutlines are pared right back.

Under the skin, the 7-series rides on a hi-tech rear-drive platform. This time, air suspension will be standard. Other gizmos include active anti-roll bars, active steering and the latest self-driving cruise control system.

Power comes from the latest six- and eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. A 6.0-litre V12 flagship will continue, while a 7-series hybrid will also be offered. This petrol/electric drivetrain – set for a debut in the X5 MkII – is being developed in an alliance with DaimlerChrysler and GM.

Inside, the 7-series will also take a lead from the new X5. The SUV’s stylish gearlever, which resembles a swan’s neck, sits atop the transmission tunnel rather than being a stubby lever behind the wheel. The electronic parking brake is next to it, along with the latest iDrive control, as BMW seeks to banish the ergonomic issues of today’s car.

The new 7-series arrives in late 2008. There will be standard and lwb versions, with the latter getting a 140mm stretch.

2001 started the BMW design revolution; 2008 car will end it with a more sober, sporting look

All new rear-drive platform will also underpin baby Rolls and long-wheelbase Seven

Latest big petrol and diesels – and petrol/electric hybrid version

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