2007 BMW Concept CS

Ask the car's designers if the Concept CS was built around a specific mechanical package, and the answer is no. But they do claim that the extralong wheelbase allows any of the company's current powerplants to sit behind the front axle for better weight distribution; BMW also acknowledges that the CS is rear-wheel drive--no surprise there. The low roofline necessitates a low, sports-car-like seating position, and the CS is strictly a four-seater, with a console that runs the full length of the interior.

The squat, cab-rearward proportions are classic gran turismo--and they also happen to look great. And unlike some previous BMW show cars, the CS concept's details are equally convincing.

Van Hooydonk points out that whereas a new production model has a three-year lead time, a concept car such as the CS is a direct link into the design department's most current thinking. Work on the CS, for instance, began just six months before its Shanghai debut. Bangle and company won't identify specifics, "but I can tell you," he says, "that in many ways, the aesthetics of this car are already flowing into what we've decided to make for production for other vehicles in the BMW lineup."

Will the CS be anything more than an indicator of where BMW design is headed? Our sources tell us that this car is only one of several options that the company is contemplating for a four-door coupe/GT. The others include one based on the 3-series (less likely) and one that would be a variant of the next-generation 6-series. Some question how much volume there would be for a car like this, perched above the 7-series, but we think there's room for a superluxe four-door GT to battle the Aston Martin Rapide, the Porsche Panamera, and the AMG version of the CLS.

BMW doesn't build many idle concepts. The Z9 show car of 1999 proved a reliable predictor of the current 6-series; the X Coup of 2001 gave strong hints as to the upcoming Z4 coupe; and the CS1 concept of 2002 was a highly accurate preview of the 1-series family.

The CS show car is far better looking than any of those concepts, and we say it would be a shame if it were merely the stalking horse for an evolved design language. We want to see this car outside the stifling confines of the Shanghai auto show. We want to see it out on the open road.

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