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Here we have the first two pictures of the upcoming BMW F10 5-Series LCI (Life Cycle Impulse – BMW speak for mid-life facelift) caught completely undisguised, thanks to Chinese car site auto163. The current F10 was unveiled in late 2009, so it’s high time for it to be facelifted. Also launched in 2009, chief rival the W212 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has already gone through its mid-life update a few months ago.

So what’s changed then? Very little from the looks of it. The front bumper is all new, taking design cues from the F30 3-Series and F01/F02 7-Series LCI. Also, the trademark kidney grille appears to have been enlarged, now sitting more prominently than before. Turn signals on the side mirrors make their F10 debut too.

The front headlamps see a big update: now with thicker, flat-bottomed Corona Rings and F30-esque LED accent lights sitting above the main beam. Fog lights within the front bumper are now open round elements; no longer shielded within a triangular housing.

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Curiously, the chrome detailing on the front bumper is reminiscent of those used on the F30 3-er Modern Line. Is BMW introducing trim Lines on the 5-Series? That would explain the garish use of chrome on the grille too, with perhaps a more aggressive alternative styling available on the Sport Line.

Round the back, the exhaust outlets are now rectangular items instead of the outgoing car’s circular exits. Note, pictured here is the Chinese-market 535Li (long-wheelbase) which has always used twin exhausts on either side of the car. Lesser models are likely to stick to the current configuration – round pipes on the left.

Yet unseen are the changes on the interior. We’ll have to wait till the F10 LCI’s official unveiling later this year for full details.