The race of the German manufacturers to fill every niche their product planners can think of will reach new heights as a concept of an undoubtedly enormous BMW 9 Series flagship (Gran Lusso coupé concept pictured above) will reportedly be shown at the Beijing International Auto Show later this month. The news comes hot on the heels of BMW’s announcement of a leviathan X7 to top its X range of SUVs.
BMW understandably wants to be prepared when Mercedes-Benz introduces the long-rumoured extended-wheelbase version of the S-Class (which is reportedly now carrying the Maybach name). But instead of just stretching the next G11 7 Series and adding a little bit of extra tinsel, the men from Munich are apparently going the whole hog with an entirely new model.
The new flagship BMW will therefore sit alongside the Rolls-Royce Ghost in the BMW Group portfolio. The German brand has not had a super-stretched top-of-the-range saloon since production of the L7 (pictured below), based on the E38 7 Series, ended in 2001.
The BMW 9 Series is expected to be based on a new modular architecture that will underpin all of BMW and Rolls-Royce’s rear-biased vehicles from the G11 7 Series forward. The new platform will utilise a mixture of steel, aluminium and carbon fibre to reduce weight – the 7 Series, for instance, is set to drop as much as 200 kg from its kerb weight, which would put it on par with the current F10 5 Series.
BMW has been toying around with a flagship model for years – at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2007 the company showcased the Concept CS, a four-door coupé in the vein of the Aston Martin Rapide. Production plans were eventually cancelled, but some of the car’s design cues did end up on the current F01 7 Series.
Six years later at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, BMW gave us the Pininfarina Gran Lusso concept, an elegant two-door coupé that looked a natural competitor to the then-forthcoming S-Class Coupé. Based on the current 7 Series, the Gran Lusso looked relatively production ready for a concept, leading people to believe that it could be forecasting a replacement for the fabled 8 Series coupé.
BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso concept