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2009 Sneak Preview: New and Future BMW Cars

Just like you, we always want to know what's coming next from Detroit, Tokyo, Stuttgart, Munich, Los Angeles, and all the other places where automotive engineers and designers dream and scheme on our behalf. Car companies, of course, are loath to share information on new products lest their competitors try to copy them--or you decide not to buy the cars they already have on dealer lots. Car companies, though, are simply groups of people, and some of them have a hard time keeping secrets. So, we poke, we prod, we cajole, and we uncover information that becomes the basis for our annual Sneak Preview issue. As always, some of our information is educated guesswork based on hints, insinuations, hunches. Make no mistake, though, these cars are on their way, even though details may change. Ladies and gentlemen: our list of 136 cars coming over the next few years...

Depending on whether you like the way it looks, BMW's new segment-buster is either a stroke of genius or proof that the company's design department has suffered a collective stroke. The Gran Turismo will hit the market later this year as a 2010 model, likely with twin-turbocharged powerplants-an in-line six for the 535i GT, a V-8 for the 550i GT. The GT is based on the next-generation, F10-chassis 5-series, and it's about as wide and as long as a short-wheelbase 7-series. Sliding rear seats offer the choice between 7-series legroom for two rear passengers or extra luggage space, and a novel hatch allows the cargo area to be accessed like either a hatched wagon or a conventional trunked sedan.

Despite its controversial styling, we think the GT will have tremendous presence on the road thanks to its imposing proportions. And BMW might be on to something-as the world moves away from the eco-guilt of boxy SUVs, this tall sedan/coupe/hatchback might be the body style of the future.

BMW X6 Active Hybrid

A hybrid X6 will go on sale later this year, and unlike BMW's other European-market hybrid systems, this is a full-on, two-mode hybrid that uses technology jointly developed with General Motors, Chrysler, and Mercedes-Benz. BMW promises, however, that the X6 will remain a driver's car despite the practically incomprehensible powertrain dance that a dual-mode system does.

2011 BMW 5-series An all-new 5-series is scheduled to arrive for the 2011 model year with a selection of turbocharged engines and loads of technology features from the 7-series-including BMW's new and vastly improved iDrive. A wagon should debut shortly after the sedan.

2012 BMW 6-series An all-new 6-series luxocoupe, again based on the 5-series, is due for 2012 in both hardtop and convertible form. The ragtop will retain its fabric roof-but not, we hope, the current 6's frumpy styling.

2010 BMW 7-series The 7-series was brand-new for 2009, but it gets a number of fresh additions for '10. A first-ever all-wheel-drive version of BMW's largest sedan arrives this fall. Shortly after comes a mild hybrid, which will use auto start/stop and other technologies to reduce its thirst for fuel. A V-12-powered 7-series is also on the way. Expect it to feature twin turbos and produce monumental power.