BMW's latest lightly facelifted 3 Series hasn't been on sale for long, but already we've seen its successor in disguised prototype form for the first time. The seventh-generation compact exec is set to launch sometime in 2018.
Details so far are thin on the ground but we can see that the shape behind the camouflage bears a fair resemblance to spy shots of the next BMW 5 Series. It appears BMW will follow in the footsteps of Mercedes with the 'Russian doll' effect of the C-Class and E-Class.
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Familiar styling details such as the BMW double kidney grille remain, but the curvy headlamp design appears totally different from those on the angular current model. It's difficult to tell if the striking rear light units, bulging out sideways, will make production.
Under the skin, we can expect BMW will take a leaf out of Audi's books buy cutting weight yet adding space. The current BMW 3 Series is falling behind the latest models for rear seat room and bootspace, so that will be a priority.
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Expect efficiency to increase over the current car with BMW likely to push forward with plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell tech alongside turbo petrol and diesel engines.
We'll bring you more details as and when we get them, but expect to see the finished 3-Series at one of the big European shows in 2018.
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