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by Matt Brogan

These spy-shots of the 2009 BMW 5 Series represent the clearest look yet at the future design direction of this class-leading luxury sedan. It is the first sight of the latest interpretation of the twin-kidney grille.

Sources in Europe claim this BMW will move away from the polarising design of the current model. Already under development with the internal codename “F10,” the next-generation BMW 5 Series will soften the harder lines of the current E60 with more conventional-looking headlights and a cleaner front-end design. New European pedestrian safety standards are expected to drastically alter the design of many European cars for the worse, but BMW will not only maintain its classic twin-kidney grille design, it will reduce the length of the front overhang.

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As is typical of most recent BMW redesigns, this 5 Series will add some space between the wheels by extending the wheelbase nearly 100mm and widening the track. The overall length will grow by less than 20mm, while its height will be reduced slightly and its width increased by a fraction. A set of 17-inch wheels will be the smallest available with 18- and 19-inch wheels optional.

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Under the bonnet, this 5 Series is expected to use variations of existing engines in BMW’s line-up. Base power will likely come from a 2.5-litre straight-six while top-range models will use the current 4.8-litre V8. A wild card could be thrown into the mix if BMW attempts to combine its latest turbo technology with a V8 of slightly smaller displacement. Also in the works is a more powerful version of the M5’s 5.0-litre V10.