Click above for high-res image gallery of the 2009 BMW 7 Series

Buyers in the upper echelon of the luxury segment are increasingly demanding all-wheel traction on their rides, and BMW has evidently grown tired of seeing would-be customers flocking to rival automakers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz to get what they want. So for the first time in the model line's history, the new BMW 7 Series will be offered with all-wheel drive.

Engineers in Bavaria have reportedly worked hard to keep the 7's rear-drive dynamics intact, and have opted to fit the xDrive system with a 30:70 rearward bias instead of the 40:60 in other applications. xDrive-equipped 7s will also get a slightly higher ground clearance and Hill Decent Control, a system usually reserved for serious off-road vehicles. The option will be available on all versions of the 7 save the smallest diesels and gasoline engines that we don't get in North America anyway, fetching a €2500-2800 premium (in European markets) over conventional rear-drive versions. BMW is testing the 7 Series with xDrive in snow-draped locales before the option is offered in other markets starting at the Frankfurt Motor Show in October 2009, after which Quattros and 4Matics will be looking over their shoulders.

Related Gallery2009 BMW 7 Series

[Source: Automobilwoche and BMW Blog]