Big grille, stepped shoulder mark out next-generation model

UPDATE: It's official now. Full details here.

The design of the fourth-generation BMW X5 has been leaked on a Chinese forum ahead of the car's official launch later this year.

These photos were spotted online by Carscoops, and show the new crossover in all its undisguised glory.

As we've seen in teasers and spy photos, the new X5 has an imposing grille about the height of the Empire State Building. What we weren't prepared for is the car's stepped shoulder line, and its thin Jeep Grand Cherokee-style tail-lights.

Inside, the X5 boasts the company's new completely digital instrumentation screen, as well as a high-resolution touchscreen display and a more expressive dashboard design. There are also plenty of leather, wood, and metal-like highlights, along with LED ambient lighting.

According to the Chinese site, the new X5 is 4945mm long, 2004mm wide, 1791mm tall, and rides on a 2933mm wheelbase. If true, the fourth-generation model will be 36mm longer, 66mm wider, 19mm taller, and sit a 42mm longer wheelbase than the outgoing model.

From these leaked images, we can see the new X5 will be available with laser headlamps, adjustable-height air suspension, automatic engine stop/start, proximity sensors, numerous selectable driving modes, hill descent control, and a rock climbing mode.

Under the skin, the X5 uses the company's latest CLAR platform, as already seen on the 5 Series and 7 Series. Motivation is said to come from a selection of turbocharged four-, six- and eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

The new X5 will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A larger model, the X7, with a stretched wheelbase, unique styling and seating for up to seven passengers will be produced alongside the new X5 in BMW's US plant.

Harald Krüger, CEO of BMW, confirmed last month the new X5 will make its official debut "later this year".

UPDATE: It's official now. Full details here.