We are very early into the prototype phase for the next-generation BMW 5 Series sedan. This is only our second sighting of a vehicle in public, with the first prototype being caught on camera in early July. In fact, this could be the same hybrid tester seen earlier, but this time around we have crisp high-resolution photos that give us a detailed look at what's coming from Munich.

Perhaps the best news is that the next 5 will not carry the deep-diving grille that's earned BMW considerable criticism. A close-up of the prototype's face shows a wide but somewhat thin grille, similar to the current sedan but with a bit more separation between the kidneys at the top. It's possible that separation could be a ruse, but the takeaway is that the 5 Series should adopt an evolutionary design for its next generation.

Gallery: Next-Gen BMW 5 Series Hybrid Spy Photos

It's important to note that this car is covered in false panels beneath the black camo wrap. The same detail that lets us see the grille outline also shows extensive coverings all over the front fascia and hood, not to mention the sides and back. As such, the front clip is rather devoid of character but you know what? It's rather refreshing compared to the big vents and contrasting angles that have defined BMW's design language for several years now. Perhaps simple is better in this case.

That being said, we see some tweaked panels riveted to the bottoms of the doors that suggest notable body lines are hiding beneath. The same holds true for the hood and the C-pillar as well as the rear fascia, where obvious placeholder taillights are barely visible through the camo wrap. This prototype is labeled as a hybrid test vehicle and it's of the plug-in variety – note the access door on the driver-side front fender visible through the wrap.

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Since we're so early in the prototype phase, details on powertrain or tech systems are pure speculation at this point. We believe there will still be a standard internal-combustion version in addition to the plug-in hybrid, and our previous spy shots revealed a fully electric version that will likely be called the i5. Eager BMW fans should buckle up for a lengthy spy photo parade, as we aren't expecting a reveal until 2023 for the 2024 model year.

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