What you're looking at above appears to be a prototype testing components for a potentially forthcoming M7 – which is something that BMW has never offered before. It's packing what look like enormous, cross-drilled brakes – just the kind of thing an M-fettled 7 would need to keep its mass and momentum in check. It was seen running around with an M5 and X6 M, suggesting that it's the performance division that's playing around with this big sedan for the first time.
An M7 would have to pack some serious punch, considering what's already on offer. Both the Alpina B7 (4.4-liter V8) and M760Li (6.6-liter V12) each offer 600 twin-turbocharged horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque driving to all four wheels, capable of hitting 60 mph in the threes. The full M version, then, might need a good 650 hp or more, which would put it out in front of everything else – including the Audi S8 Plus (605 hp) and Mercedes-AMG S65 (621 hp).
Even with all that performance and clout, however, the M7 might still not be enough for BMW to close that $200k gap to the bottom of the Rolls-Royce range. That's why it could roll out an even more luxurious and completely separate model, potentially called the 9 Series. The new uber-luxe sedan would take on the Mercedes-Maybach S600 that's proven particularly popular in China, where Automotive News notes that Benz sells half of all the S-Class models it makes.
Since they're mostly chauffeur-driven through crowded streets, upscale customers there care less about BMW's traditional focus on handling dynamics and more about comfort. And with the government cracking down on corruption, they've also reportedly been eschewing overt symbols of wealth – like the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, for example. We could expect the 9 Series, then, to offer even more rear-seat legroom than the 7, and be more oriented towards comfort than performance.