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BMW 9-series concept expected to debut in Beijing

Mon, 07 Apr 2014

BMW will be previewing the upcoming 9-series sedan at the 2014 China Auto Show, according to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport. The extra-long-wheelbase 9-series will take on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S600 Maybach, which itself is production ready and is set to debut in a matter of months. The 9-series will be positioned alongside the Rolls-Royce Ghost in BMW's global lineup, and is expected to feature packaging and interior appointments similar to that of the S600 Maybach while building upon the design language recently seen in the BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe.

The upcoming 9-series will be based upon a new lightweight modular platform codenamed G11, which will be shared with a number of upcoming BMW and Rolls-Royce models. The new platform is expected to offer considerable weight savings, reducing the heft of the next-generation 7-series down to the weight of the current 5-series. The G11-based 7-series and 9-series are both expected to go on sale in 2016.

BMW has been without a halo sedan since the departure of the 1995-2000 E38 BMW L7, an extra-long-wheelbase luxury car based on the 7-series. The L7 featured a short inserted section from the B-pillar and backwards, buying the rear seat passenger more legroom and an optional powered partition window between the front and rear seats. The 2001 BMW 7-series was not available in this version, though that didn't stop a number of coachbuilders and armorers like ArmorTech and Transeco Bremen from offering something similar. The current F01-generation 7-series has not raised the stakes beyond what was offered in the 2001-2008 E65 in terms of interior space, being offered in standard and long-wheelbase only.

The 9-series will feature an all-new lightweight platform that'll be shared with the 7-series, though the car, shown in this rendering, may be positioned just below the Rolls-Royce Ghost.

The Asian market is one of the main driving forces behind the renewed focus on long-wheelbase sedans, as Bentley and Rolls-Royce keep opening dealerships further and further away from China's main cities. The European market for luxury vehicles in the $200,000 range is also showing signs of rebounding, with the impending debut of the long-wheelbase Range Rover, the Mercedes-Benz S600 Maybach, and slightly more affordable Bentley and Rolls-Royce sedans.

No word yet on the price range or the engines that are expected to be offered in the 9-series, though the pricing of the Rolls-Royce Ghost and the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S600 Maybach will certainly play a role in how it will be positioned in the market. An armored High Security version will almost certainly be offered as well if the 9-series sees production, offered with the highest level of ballistic protection, akin to the current 7-series High Security factory-armored sedan.

By Jay Ramey