In a move no doubt calculated to take some of the wind out of the upcoming Audi A7's sails, BMW development chief Klaus Draeger has confirmed the Gran Coupe will go to production on the eve of the brand's Design Night. We'll have to wait until 2012 to see the car on the streets, however.

The Gran Coupe was rumored to be confirmed for production as soon as it hit the show stand at the Beijing Motor Show in April, and reports have consistently held that line since. Klaus Draeger's words put the official imprimatur on the talk, however, and also serve to put a point on the car's desirability.

Sitting between the 6-Series coupe (and likely to wear a 6-Series badge) and the 7-Series, the Gran Coupe is a four-door coupe in the new tradition, with looks that put both 6er and 7er to shame. The sloping rear roofline and shorter rear door are sure to hamper access and room, however, leaving the 7-Series safe with its executive limo status, and the 6-Series Coupe to hang on to those that would rather not have four doors.

So who, exactly, will buy the Gran Coupe? Draeger thinks it will be the buyer that wants occasional rear-seat access offered by the 7-Series and the driving pleasure of the 6 Coupe--in other words, buyers that are currently forced to compromise. Not least to consider is that Mercedes already has a four-door coupe on sale in the CLS, and Audi's move with the A7 means the Gran Coupe is almost a necessity if only from a competitive perspective.

For more on the Gran Coupe, check out our preview story here.