BMW design guru Chris Bangle drops hints of a truly bootilicious 7-series
Dangerous curves ahead CONCEPT-UALISING A SEXY SEVEN: Will the new 7-series look like the Concept CS? Mr Bangle seems to hint so. His work on the new X6 - a cross between a coupe and an SUV - is far more groundbreaking though -- PHOTO: BMW

ACCORDING to Mr Christopher Bangle, BMW Group's chief of design, the silver car you see here is the next 7-series. This was revealed at a workshop held in Singapore earlier this week.

The car you see is the Concept CS, first unveiled at the Shanghai show this year. The disclosure quells earlier speculation that this was to be a four-door coupe in the vein of the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

The current 7-series means a lot to BMW. It is the first car to give Mercedes' S-class a real run for its money. Its design was a dramatic departure from the earlier generations, which were appreciated for their understatement (read: nondescript styling). Although it was controversial when it was launched six years ago, it is now recognised as a standard bearer. In fact, it is the best-selling 7-series of all time.

Thanks to Mr Bangle.

The design guru, throughout his two-hour presentation here on Wednesday, emphasises the point that car designers should not keep to established dogmas of how a car 'should' look. (You'd understand this if you look at the X6.)

While decidedly coy about the exact details of the new 7-series due in 2009, he did nothing to veil his enthusiasm for the new car's design. His first words about the Concept CS and how it would influence the next 7-series were: 'It's a sexy-looking car.'

Even though he didn't disclose details like just how big the new car would be or how much more performance we can expect, he did reveal that the new car isn't going to stretch the measuring tape like the current one did. With the current 7-series, dimensions grew by as much as 60mm on any given axis over its predecessor, which is a lot by car design standards.

What we will see on the new car, though, are sculptured body flanks and aggressive long lines. But Mr Bangle does throw in a disclaimer that the CS isn't easy to understand: 'You have to look around it a couple of times to begin (to understand the design).'

He then talks about the new X6 - a cross between a coupe and an SUV (no one has attempted this combination before).

Shown at the Frankfurt show in September, BMW did all but reveal the car's cabin. When asked about how its extremely raked roof and rear windscreen will compromise the car's ability to accommodate gear, Mr Bangle insists that there is plenty of room, although 'there's always the X5'.

He reckons the sports-utility vehicle segment can be sliced even more thinly. But the immediate work after the X6 is really to get the X3 to look like part of the family. BMW would have to do quite a bit - the X3 has long been criticised as a car that never quite belonged.