Despite production denials we've captured BMW's CS driving near the firm's headquarters

The low-slung four-seater was intended as a rival for the Maserati Quattroporte and upcoming Porsche Panamera. The company said it no longer expects to break last year's sales record of 1.5 million vehicles in 2008 and product initiatives will now focus on more efficient smaller cars.

The Concept CS, which takes its name from highly styled BMWs of the 1960s, is longer, wider and lower than BMW’s current flagship saloon, the 7-Series. It was first shown to the public at the Shanghai Auto Show in spring this year as Asia is likely to account for a big piece of any future growth in sales of high-end luxury cars.

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The CS’s most striking feature is a long, low, flowing roof, which inevitably leads to comparisons with recent 'four-door coupes' – notably the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera. But the CS is neither cut nor stretched. “It was conceived holistically as a four-door saloon,” Chris Bangle said in Shanghai. “It is not a chopped or stretched anything.” The CS’s long hood suggests a powerful engine. The face is aggressive, with a hooded, intent look to the headlights. Large air openings below the front grille seem connected to like-styled apertures for the exhaust in the rear. In between, swollen rocker panels leave the impression that the entire body rides on twin tubes.

Other details are more delicate. There is an echo of BMW’s hallmark roof-pillar shape impressed in the sheet metal. There is a reference to the Z8 in the front lights. The area around the stylized kidney shapes of the grille is delicately modelled; the taillights are stretched and lightened.

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