Thought the BMW X6 crossover was a car too far? Brace yourself for more weirdness from the Bavarians, who are readying a strange 5-series-on-stilts niche model dubbed Progressive Activity Sedan for launch in the middle of 2009.
Caught here by our scoop photographers in Germany, the PAS is based on the engineering architecture of the next-gen 5-series Touring, but with a 60mm taller roofline and a fastback rear end, clearly visible under the black disguise masking the back of this prototype. Has BMW lost the design plot? After the X6 with its cramped accommodation and fussy front end and this year’s 7-series becoming a Lexus LS clone, we’re starting to wonder.
PAS: more design oddness from BMW
The PAS caught here heralds more oddness – and its puzzling model designation echoes a shape that will take some getting used to. It’s a high-roof four-seater, with a pseudo-coupe rear end and a clever, twin-hinged tailgate nestling under that black disguise. You can either open the whole hatchback, or just the rearmost section (like a saloon’s boot).
Although based on the next-gen 5-series, the PAS gets its own front-end design which is, err, different to say the least. And the tall and chunky rear end has disturbing Honda FR-V overtones. Oh dear.
Click ‘Next’ to read the full engineering lowdown on the PAS
BMW PAS - the ultimate family machine?
Unlike the cramped X6, the new BMW PAS has a vast rear passenger compartment – it’s as roomy as the new 2008 7-series we’ll see this autumn. You can even wear a top hat in the back, according to designers although we’re not sure why you’d want to. The rear bench is fully adjustable, too, and it’s this versatility that underpins the PAS. Think of it as part estate car, part luxury saloon and part people carrier.
It’s best epitomised by that novel tailgate. If you need to stow away XXL items, the entire hatchback swings open like that of the 5-series Touring. But there’s also a conventional trunklid which provides access to a deep and wide boot. While the dual-mode liftgate adds complexity and weight, BMW points out that this is the ultimate draught-free solution to a problem many people have not yet recognised. It’s interesting that VW had prepared a similar system for the stillborn Phaeton replacement proposed by messieurs Pischetsrieder and Günak.
BMW PAS – the stats
Peel away the disguise and you’re left with a slippery shape, said to have a drag coefficient of just 0.31. But it’s a big beast and the PAS tips the scales at around 1900kg. It’s going to need all of BMW’s engine know-how to counter that kind of heft.
According to internal documents seen by CAR Online, the 306bhp PAS 3.0si auto will accelerate in 6.7sec from 0-62mph and average 26.8mpg – impressively fast, but worrying thirsty in this zeitgeist. And it’ll stop from 62mph in an excellent 38metres.
As expected, BMW will offer a variety of options like active steering, dynamic drive, electronically adjustable dampers and adaptive cruise control. What’s missing from this list is xDrive – the PAS will only be built in rear-wheel drive form.
Click ‘Next’ to read about the new engines on the PAS
The engine line-up
Four different engines are expected to be available:
• 3.0 turbo six, 306bhp/295lb ft
• 4.0 turbo V8, 408bhp/443lb ft
• 3.0 turbodiesel 245bhp/406lb ft
• 3.0 turbodiesel 300bhp/443lb ft
The sole transmission is a new eight-speed automatic by ZF which can cope with up to 627lb ft of torque. Naturally, it comes with an integrated start-stop function for Efficient Dynamics models.