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Techno star for Sydney show

Conceptualising: The Z9 concept's interior provides styling clues for the next 7 Series.

BMW's new luxury king will be on our shores just weeks after its world debut

21 May 2001

AUSTRALIA will get a first-hand look at the all-new BMW 7 Series luxury saloon at the Sydney motor show in October - just one month after its world premiere in Frankfurt.

The first local appearance of what is expected to be a tecnological tour de force was confirmed by BMW Australia managing director Uwe Hartmann last week.

Due to be shown to local dealers in the coming weeks and surrounded by a cloak of secrecy, the new E65 7 Series is already staking its claim to outdo Mercedes-Benz's S-class as the world's most technologically advanced car.

The new 7 Series, due on sale here by early 2002 and styled along similar lines to the Z9 coupe shown in Frankfurt in 1999 and the convertible shown in Melbourne this year, is likely to feature a six-speed ZF automatic transmission, variable-intensity brake lights, satnav-controlled headlights and cruise control, the new M3's variable diff lock and new 3.5 and 4.5-litre V8 engines.

Australian models are likely to be badged 735i and 745i, while a range-topping 285kW 5.8-litre V12 is expected to be added around 2003.

"It's a completely new way to drive," BMW public affairs manager John Khanaginis said.

"The new 7 will introduce ground-breaking technology not only in the way it's designed and built and in the way it handles, but in the way it provides feedback to the inputs of the driver.

"The iDrive concept as previewed on the Z9 gran turismo providing a new way to drive at the top end as well as demystifying some of the massive amounts of technology that the 7 Series will have."The "iDrive" system replaces inumerable knobs and switchgear with three levels of controls, their closeness to the driver determined by their frequency of use.

But this is only the beginning of a new model bonanza from BMW. A freshened 3 Series should appear just before the end of 2001, while next year is expected to bring the Mini, an E46 M3 convertible, a heavily facelifted 5 Series and a range-topping 4.9-litre soft-roader, the X5iS.

Further afield, following a new Z3 and 3 Series-based X3 soft-roader in 2003, is the 1 Series entry level BMW and an all-new 6 Series in both coupe and convertible body styles.

Closer to home, BMW also confirmed the new 1.8-litre Valvetronic four-cylinder will appear in Australian versions of the 3 Series compact, which will debut locally in November.

The 86kW engine for the 316ti should accompany a 142kW 325ti and, by around 2003, a range-topping M version.

As previously reported, BMW's M Coupe and M Roadster will also feature the M3's new 3.2-litre M engine from February production, though in detuned 239 kilowatt guise due to inlet modifications demanded by the smaller engine bay.

Expect both updated M models to be on sale here by around September, each with claimed 0-100km/h acceleration of 5.3 seconds - just 0.1 seconds slower than the M3 and the same amount quicker than M5.

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