► Four-door, four-seat flagship Gran Coupe model
►Based on long-wheelbase 7-series
►Six, eight and 12-cylinder symphonies planned
BMW is plotting a flagship coupe – the 9-series – to be spun off the high-tech architecture of the latest 7-series limo. The four-door, four-seat coupe takes the Gran Coupe theme from the 4- and 6-series ranges, and supersizes it to long-wheelbase 7-series proportions.
The 9-series is the first all-new model to be approved by new(ish) chairman, Harald Krüger, the unfortunate fellow who collapsed during his speech at the 2015 Frankfurt show. Krüger, his r&d chief Klaus Fröhlich and design supremo Adrian van Hooydonk met before Christmas, to review key future models at a ‘LUP’ meeting, shorthand for long-term corporate planning.
They gave the green light to a luxury coupe positioned between 7-series and the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Typically, a BMW coupe would wear an even numbered badge, but since management does not want to revive the little loved 8-series and does not own the rights to 10-series, 9-series is a likely designation.
Haven’t we seen a 9-series concept?
BMW dabbled in a 9-series concept with the Gran Lusso Coupe (pictured above), co-designed with Pininfarina and shown at the 2013 Villa d´Este concours, though this was a two-door model. The actual small volume, big statement flagship is expected to go on sale in early 2020, six months after the facelifted 7-series it relies on for its underpinnings. Drivetrains reportedly include six-cylinder plug-in hybrid, twin-turbo V8 and M960i/M9 powered by a 650bhp V12. With a bit of luck, the all-electric powertrain package under development for the next Phantom will eventually find its way into the 9-series too.
Not so long ago, the big, swoopy BMW was set to face stiff German competition, but Mercedes earlier this year axed the proposed four-door S-class/Maybach coupé (though a cabriolet will emerge in 2016) and Audi pulled the proposed A9. So the closest rivals should be Brits, the next Jaguar XJ and the Aston Rapide replacement.
January's issue of CAR magazine puts the new long-wheelbase BMW 7-series to the test against its Mercedes S-class and Porsche Panamera rivals - read the giant test in full on CAR+