We've seen the next-generation BMW 7 Series before, but not quite like this. Our previous sightings included some form of electrification under the camo-wrapped skin, but our spy sources tell us this prototype is pure internal combustion. Visually that won't make much of a difference, at least at this stage of the process. But the sharp contrast of a black body wrap against white snow does highlight some interesting features.

The biggest buzz surrounding the next 7 Series isn't whether it will have a bonkers 4 Series grille, though we do see a disturbing similarity in the way it dips to the lower fascia and curves at the corners. Instead, all eyes are examining the squared fascia, which certainly appears to take cues from the beefy X7. Exactly how chiseled it gets remains to be seen, and we mean that literally since early prototypes like this are still well concealed with a body wrap and false panels.

Gallery: Next-Generation BMW 7 Series Spy Photos

Speaking of which, check out how the light catches the bonnet in profile shots. It almost looks like rivets are underneath the wrap, though we could be seeing any number of things. The takeaway is that BMW likely has more clever concealment happening here than just a dark body wrap. Also, we are still very early in the development process – note the janky exhaust tips used for emissions testing at the back, not to mention placeholder taillights.

As such, at this stage, we still don't have insight into either the powertrain or the interior layout. We know more hybrid and fully electric models will join the standard 7 Series, but will there be a V8 in the future? As emissions and fuel economy standards tighten around the world, the current twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 could be a hard sell.

There's still quite a bit of time to discuss that possibility. We don't expect the next 7 Series to debut until sometime in 2022 at the earliest.