BMW luxury car features NZ kauri

Last updated 07:17 28/05/2013

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BMW has revealed a new concept coupe with interior wood trim sourced from a New Zealand tree that is "more than 48,000 years" old.

The BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe revealed at the prestigious Villa d’Este concours in Italy over the weekend is seen as a potential reincarnation of the luxury-focused 8-Series. The concept model is the result of collaboration between the Bavarian manufacturer and the well-known Italian design house that could introduce a new flagship model to the BMW range.

The exterior design is sleek and arguably more mature than anything else in the range, and the interior is designed to take plush to a new - yet very old - level.

The four-seat space features ancient, semi-fossilised kauri wood trim as chosen by Italian master speedboat builders Riva, which was fished from an NZ swamp. Only one single piece of wood was used as "kauri wood is among the rarest timbers in the world", according to BMW.

In BMW spin: "Kauri wood has a unique grain and shifts in colour from gold to red to brown, depending on the incidence of light and angle of view. Simply polished and oiled, it exudes a particular warmth and naturalness in league with the exclusive leather surfaces of the interior. Native to New Zealand, kauri wood is among the rarest timbers in the world. Its special character derives from the fact that the toppled kauri trees have been preserved in swamps for millennia and can be processed like fresh timber after being retrieved from the fossil swampland."

The V12-powered coupe points to a potential successor to the BMW 8-Series coupe that was discontinued in the 1990s, which would sit above the 7-Series limousine range.

The Gran Lusso show car is powered by a 6.0-litre V12 engine that makes 400kW and 750Nm when fitted to the current 760Li limousine.

BMW had previously planned to build a two-door rival to the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class (the next-generation version of which will be badged as an S-Class Coupe), but the project was shelved during the global financial crisis. However, given the surprise unveiling of the Gran Lusso, the company may move to cash in on the expanding trend for luxury car makers to build niche models.

The 8-Series would join an increasingly complex lineup if BMW decides to build it.

BMW’s new naming strategy features odd numbers for conventional cars such as the 3-Series or 5-Series, and even numbers for sportier spin-offs such as the current 6-Series and upcoming 4-Series.

The models have been clouded by niche versions including four-door "Gran Coupe" interpretations of traditional coupes, and four-door "GT" hatchbacks that will sit alongside sedans and "Touring" wagons.

-Fairfax Media Australia

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