The prototypes next generation BMW 7-Series running around Europe have progressed to a point where they now contain an early version of the final product’s interior design.

What immediately stands out is a completely new UI for BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, which now appears to use a horizontal row of icons instead of the current vertical list. The iDrive controller looks like the current version, but the buttons surrounding it are now flatter and look like they’re made out of metal.

The metal button look continues throughout the rest of the cabin – they’re featured around the air conditioning controls and the DVD drive as well. The air conditioning panel looks like it’s a big display using virtual buttons instead of physical ones. Other than that, the steering wheel and shift knob are new.

The G11 still wears plenty of disguise on the exterior, but the general shape of it is very recognisable as a large BMW sedan. The front kidney grilles look as prominent as ever, and they’re flanked by headlamps that should feature LED lighting as standard, with optional laser high beams as seen in the BMW i8.

In previous spyshots, we saw that the G11’s signature ‘corona ring’ daytime running lights aren’t the typical U-shaped design. The inner “U” extends further towards the grille, giving it the appearance like a question mark lying on its side. We’ve seen this new design on the BMW Vision Future Luxury concept, the BMW Concept X4 and the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe.

Word is that the new 7-er will debut in the second half of 2015. It’s said to have undergone big weight reductions of up to 200 kg, with BMW focusing on integrating key learnings from the BMW i project to its regular series cars. The chassis – said to be codenamed ‘5up’, is supposed to allow the 7 Series to compete with lighter cars like the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ when it comes to kerb weight thanks to the use of aluminium, magnesium and carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).

What do you think of how the G11 is shaping out to be?

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