It looks a lot like the outgoing model, but BMW says the fifth-generation 7 Series is all new.

The car, which will make its world premiere at the Paris motor show this fall, takes styling cues from the CS concept BMW showed in Shanghai in 2007, though the new 7 can best be described as evolutionary rather than revolutionary as the last generation was.

The new car is slightly larger than the outgoing car and is distinctively edgier, with flatter surfaces and tauter forms. Up front, the kidney grille looks more exaggerated, and in the rear, the tail lamps, spoiler and decklid look far more integrated than the controversial (but aerodynamically functional) tail on the previous model.

A new V8 will power the 7 Series (750i and 750Li) when it goes on sale in North America in spring 2009: the 4.4-liter, 400-hp, 450-lb-ft twin-turbo V8 introduced in the X6.The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

A 3.0-liter, 326-hp twin-turbo six-cylinder and a 245-hp diesel won't come to the United States initially, but "never say never," said a BMW source.

There's also a rumored gas-electric hybrid model using the two-mode system developed in three-way cooperation with General Motors and Daimler. Although not part of the launch lineup, it could be on sale in the next year, kicking off what BMW sources said will eventually be an extended range of hybrids in coming years.

The car's suspension is new, made primarily of aluminum components, and the new 7 is the first BMW sedan to use the automaker's double-wishbone front axle. The rear is multilink.

The 2009 7 Series comes standard with BMW's newly developed Dynamic Damping Control. At the touch of a button, the driver can choose the degree of damping force and the gearshift dynamics of the automatic transmission, as well as the control maps for the gas pedal and steering assistance.

The system has comfort, normal, sports and sports-plus modes. Active steering is optional again, but this time, it can also change the rear-wheel steering angles by 3 degrees.

Other optional goodies include night vision, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, massaging rear seats and rear view and side view cameras.

Inside, the gear lever has been moved back to the center console. BMW says the new, second-generation iDrive system is easier to use, with more readable graphics on an updated and better-integrated screen.

As for the CS from which the 7 Series designers drew inspiration, the model is intended to bridge the gap between the 7 Series and Rolls-Royce, where its job will be to fend off advances from the coming Porsche Panamera and Aston Martin Rapide.

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