This is the new BMW 7-series, the fifth generation of the model that BMW hopes will dramatically revive the fortunes of its flagship executive saloon.
The new BMW 7-series will go on sale following its public debut at the Paris motor show in late September, with right-hand-drive UK sales set to kick off in November. It can't come quickly enough for BMW; sales of the current 7-series have fallen to record lows in recent months.
Developed completely from scratch, with record investment from BMW, the new 7-series is the beginning of a renewed push by BMW for technological superiority.
The biggest advance on the new model is the car's rear-wheel-steer system, called Integral Active Steering. BMW claims the technology gives the 7-series class-leading agility and unparalleled low-speed manoeuvrability.
It's the first production car to offer internet access on the move as part of BMW's ConnectedDrive system. It also has a night-vision system, like the S-class, but this one can distinguish between humans and objects and will sound an alarm if it thinks an accident is likely.
The big news, though particularly given the current focus on environmental compatibility, is the promise of a petrol/electric hybrid model using the two-mode system developed with General Motors and Daimler.
Although not part of the launch line-up, it will go on sale within the next 12 months, kicking off what BMW insiders say will become a large range of hybrids.
The new BMW 7-series' looks are bound to polarise opinion, especially as it is tipped to act as a design template for all upcoming BMW models. This car is distinctively edgier - incorporating flatter surfaces and tauter forms - than the one it replaces.
BMW has done away with the current car's distinctive double-hump dashboard top, using a design similar to the fascia on the 3-series and 5-series' instead. And the column gear selector has been replaced by a joystick-style shifter, mounted in the centre console.
It's lightly bigger than the current 7-series - 33mm longer at 5072mm - but the same width and 12mm lower. The wheelbase has also been extended by 83mm to 3073mm, reducing the overhangs and, in combination with wider tracks giving the new car a more confident stance. A long-wheelbase Li model will also be available, adding 140mm to the rear doors for improved access and added legroom.
At launch there will be three engine options. They include BMW's twin-turbocharged, 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine, with 326bhp and 332lb ft of torque in the 740i. It is joined by a reworked version of the 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel with 245bhp and 422lb ft in the 730d. This will be the best-selling 7-series in the UK, thanks to 39.2mpg and 192g/km of CO2.
Heading the initial line-up is the 750i, with the new twin-turbo, 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine from the X6. With 407bhp and 442lb ft, it packs 47bhp and 82lb ft more than the old 750i - sufficient, claims BMW, for 0-62mph in 5.2sec.
Four wheel steering
New to the BMW 7-series is Integrated Active Steer, which uses an electric motor to turn the rear wheels by up to three degrees. At low speeds they turn in the opposite direction to the fronts ones, to reduce the turning circle by up to 70cm. At higher speeds they turn in the same direction, reducing the yaw and improving the vehicle's stability.
The concept's nothing new - the Mazda 626 and Honda Prelude had 4WS in the 1980s - but the technology's been dramatically improved by today's more powerful electronics. They can reduce the number of mechanical linkages needed and provide artificially created feel to compensate for the unnatural feedback created by the movement of the rear wheels.
All wheel drive
The 7-series will get four-wheel-drive for the first time, helping it take on the A8 quattro and increasingly popular S-class 4Matic. It will get BMW's torque-vectoring system, which the company has said will be fitted to all four-wheel-drive models. Only two cars on sale, both from Japan, have four-wheel steering and four-wheel drive: the Honda Legend and the new Nissan GT-R.
One big mechanical change is the replacement of MacPherson strut front suspension with an all-new double wishbone design that, like the multi-link arrangement at the rear, is made almost entirely from aluminium. The change has been made, BMW says, to provide improved camber control for better front-end grip.
All models come with Dynamic Damping Control as standard. This new system represents a major advance on existing arrangements, as it can alter the compression and rebound characteristics independently of each other. In addition, the 740Li and 750Li get air springs at the rear.
In line with the promise of increased driveability, the new 7-series comes with BMW's new Dynamic Driving Control. This system can alter the damping, steering and throttle mapping in four levels: Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus.