FACING STIFF COMPETITION from the new E-class, BMW is running final testing of its 2011 5 Series range in preparation for the model's release in the first quarter of 2010.
Earlier this week spy photos revealed a lightly-camouflaged prototype.
For those who can't wait, these unofficial renderings illustrate what we will likely see when the new 5 Series debuts next year.
Styling cues borrowed from the 5 Series GT will feature on the new model with curvier surface details and more defined creases accentuated the car's form.
While elements of the previous generation's square boot-lid will remain, there are new L-shaped tail-lights and a chome garnish running the width of the boot for a more cohesive visual effect.
Up front, the headlights lose their upturned outer edges and BMW's trademark kidney grille gets a similar treatment to the 7 Series and the upcoming X1.
Inside, according to leaked information, lies a centre stack angled towards the driver, with the welcome return of more conventional buttons for the audio and climate system controls, taking them out of the iDrive interface. The asymmetric centre console will house the iDrive rotary controller, to the passenger side of the gear lever.
BMW is expected to make use of a combined steel/aluminium chassis in the new 5 Series, with an alloy front structure mated to a conventional steel passenger cell.
Aluminium may also feature on exterior panels, while high-performance models such as the next-gen M5 could feature carbon-fibre bodywork.
A range of new turbodiesel engines will likely be fitted to the new car with smaller capacity turbocharged petrol motors tipped to make an appearence. Petrol-electric and diesel-electric hybrids are also rumoured to be in the pipeline.
A version of the 4.4 litre twin turbo V8, as seen in the new 7 Series and X6, is expected to become the flagship engine.
Transmissions will include a traditional six-speed manual (unlikely to make it to Australia) as well as a six-speed Steptronic auto and a new ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic.
The 2011 BMW 5 Series is expected to make its global debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show in March next year. A local release date has yet to be firmed up.