Previewed at its Design Night gala in Beijing, the BMW Concept Gran Coupé provides an early look at what a number of insiders admit could well serve as the basis for a future production vehicle that blends "the exclusivity of a Gran Turismo with the fascination of a high-performance sports car." While the German automaker is also presenting both a long-wheelbase version of the new 5 Series and an experimental electric-powered variation called the Echo in China this week, it was the Concept Gran Coupé that literally served to steal the show.

Classic, Contemporary, Captivating

Embracing all of the best visual attributes of BMW's historic brand identity, the Concept Gran Coupé picks up where the stillborn Concept CS that was shown in Shanghai in 2007 left off. Its elegantly-rendered but aggressively proportioned contours are impressively complemented by signature BMW elements like the twin-kidney grille and the C-pillar "Hofmeister kink," but full LED headlamp and taillamp fitments, wraparound front air intakes, prominent wheel arches and frameless doors add even more impact to the package. Completing the mix, its relatively long wheelbase, short overhangs and a roofline that's nearly four inches lower than a 5 or 7 Series emphasize the car's long-nose/short deck theme in a manner that further elevates the BMW Gran Coupé's sense of presence and purpose.

An Air of Mystery

While there's no question that elements of its styling will find their way in to future BMW production vehicles, the real-world status of the Gran Coupé itself remains slightly less defined. The car appeared in Beijing without an interior and no mention was made of its powertrain -- although it would most certainly share the same platform architecture and mechanicals as the latest iteration of BMW 5/6/7 Series vehicles. Beyond that, BMW remains coyly but encouragingly noncommittal for the moment. Will the Gran Coupé emerge as an uber 5 Series and serve as a pure heads-up four-door coupe rival to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLS Class, or might it ultimately morph into a two-door super coupe that becomes the next-generation 6 Series? Or could BMW be planning to set its sights even higher and deliver the vehicle as a halo-enhancing two-door 8 Series model? Unfortunately, we'll just have to wait for the official answer; but hopefully not for long.

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