Chinese media can be a valuable source of snippets for petrol heads, thanks not least to its propensity to expose what the big manufactures don’t want us to see in the lead-up to a marquee launch. The curious case of the Bentley Bentayga, one of the biggest scoops in the motoring universe last year, serves as a great example. Bentley bosses were made to look rather red-faced when their military-style press blackout was penetrated by a Chinese outlet. Said website had obtained a scale replica of the production-ready Bentayga from a factory insider, well before the super SUV’s official world premiere.
This time, it’s German giants BMW on the receiving end of some Chinese snooping as far-eastern media has obtained leaked images of the new generation 5 Series saloon. BMW itself has yet to furnish us with any official snaps as yet, although the surfacing of this rogue batch may hasten that process. In any case, they give us a good indication of the exterior design of the 2017 model, both at the front and rear, whilst also shedding some light on interior spec.
Whilst not a revolution in terms of styling, the new 5 series clearly differs from the outgoing model in the design department, with a subtly re-hashed front end and grille plus new-look taillights the standout alterations.
The reason why the 2017 incarnation may appear a little on the butch side is that is has, in fact, expanded. However, sharing the same skeleton as its bigger brother the 7 Series, the new 5 Series is more aluminium-heavy than its predecessor. As such, designers have actually managed to trim a purported 100kg at the final weigh-in, despite its larger dimensions.
Peeking inside, the leaked images reveal a substantial makeover for the cabin, which now possesses a large, centrally-mounted touchscreen with a satnav system along the lines of that used aboard the current 7 Series.
Powertrain options are rumoured to include a raft of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. Of these, 3.0 litre units will be available in both guises as well as a more potent 444bhp 4.4-litre V8 petrol carried over from the 750i. An upgraded version of the same engine will likely power the future M5 model whose grunt could touch the 570bhp mark.
A pair of plug-in hybrids are also very much in the pipeline. Utilising the same system that powers both the 330e and 740e, the mooted 530e and 540e will comprise of a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor backed up by a gearbox-mounted electric motor. The latter will also make use of BMW’s XDrive AWD system.