BMW will fight back against the recently unveiled Mercedes S-class with a new 7-series that development boss Herbert Diess calls the most technically advanced car in BMW’s history.

The first prototypes of the sixth-generation BMW 7-series have already hit the road ahead of a planned launch in late 2015. The new car will receive its world debut at the Frankfurt show in autumn of that year.

The new 7-series will ditch the traditional steel monocoque construction of today’s model for a structure that uses a mix of steel, aluminium and carbonfibre. Autocar has been told that this will cause the base 740i to undercut dramatically the 1900kg (4,180 lb) kerb weight of today’s model, and potentially even the 1670kg (3,674 lb) of the current entry-level 5-series.

The plan to incorporate carbonfibre in load-bearing elements of the new 7-series comes after extensive research and development of the lightweight material during the creation of BMW’s new range of i models.

The reduction in weight for BMW’s flagship saloon will come about without any significant change in dimensions, if this early prototype is any indication. It is expected to be about 5010mm long, 1815mm wide and 1425mm tall. Two wheelbase lengths will be offered.

Known internally under the codename G11, the new 7-series will once again come with the choice of six-cylinder, V8 and V12 petrol engines, as well as six-cylinder in-line diesel units. A petrol-electric plug-in hybrid version of the new 7-series is also planned.

A further possibility is a new ZF-engineered nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard, although this is yet to be confirmed. Rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive will be offered.

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Next-gen BMW 7-series to shed weight

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