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Deep Dive: Next-Generation 7 Series to Feature M-Badged Variant

BMW has long maintained that there will never, ever be an M7. The 7 Series' mission of providing ultimate comfort, the reasoning goes, is inherently incompatible with the racing roots of the M division. The Bavarians have held fast to this self-imposed prohibition even as the magic M has found its way onto the decklids of hardtop convertibles and large crossovers. Potentially with the currently generation, but more likely with the next 7 Series, due in late 2015, BMW may finally break that taboo. Sort of.

To satisfy the persistent begging of BMW North America, a high-performance 7 Series badged M770i xDrive is headed for our shores. It will likely feature a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 tuned for 475 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers, observant readers will note, don't surpass the current V-12 760Li, let alone the revised version, which will put out some 570 hp and a beastly 665 lb-ft of torque. The M770ix will, however, be a more agile machine than the plush 760i. The roof, trunk, and hood are said to be made of carbon fiber. Lightweight sport seats (of which there will be only four), carbon-ceramic brakes, a thin-wall exhaust with four tailpipes, and twenty-inch hollow-spoke wheels complete the calorie-saving effort. All next-gen variants will incorporate more carbon fiber architecture and will continue to rely on aluminum for suspension components, firewalls, and doors, with steel forming the rest of the unibody. Across the board, BMW aims to shave some 450 pounds from its big sedan, which would drop it into the same weight class as the aluminum-intensive Jaguar XJ.

At the other end of the 7 Series spectrum, BMW is contemplating a 730i powered by a 260-hp four-cylinder engine. The other variants reappear on in updated form. The 740i's in-line six will make 340 hp, and the 750i increases to 460 hp. On the hybrid front, we should see two different plug-in variants, the lesser one assembled around a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the more potent one starring a 3.0-liter six. The lineup moves to ZF's new nine-speed automatic, but if a current-F01-generation M770ix appears, it would stick with a specially programmed eight-speed.

The sixth-generation 7-series exterior, previewed by our (very accurate) spy illustration by AUTOBILD / Larson, is the work of the recently appointed brand design director Karim Habib. Perfectly proportioned, the next big BMW is indeed a stunning sculpture—clean and streamlined and yet very elegant thanks to various cleverly applied horizontal chrome accents. The M-variant, not surprisingly, will wear a special aerodynamic body kit.

BMW is not alone in its forthcoming overhaul of its flagship sedan - Audi and Mercedes, too, are readying new versions of its A8 and S-Class, respectively. Check back next week for the full details on the other two German über-sedans.

-Georg Kacher