The new BMW 7 Series redefines what an exclusive, luxurious driving experience looks like. Alpana Roy drives the trendsetter in Porto, Portugal for this exclusive test drive.
The handing over of the baton from one generation to the next at the top end of BMW’s model line-up sees the brand presenting a raft of innovations unmatched by any of its rivals. Groundbreaking technologies in the areas of lightweight design, powertrains, chassis, operating systems, intelligent connectivity and interior ambience underline the BMW 7 Series’ mission to bring together unbeatable driving pleasure and long distance comfort in a luxury sedan.
Key factors in enhancing dynamics, efficiency, comfort and safety while on the move are the use of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the body structure, engines from the BMW Group’s new generation of power units, the plug-in hybrid system in the new BMW 740e, the Executive Drive Pro active chassis system, the Driving Experience Control switch with ADAPTIVE mode and BMW Laserlight.
Maximising well-being in the rear compartment, meanwhile, are the Executive Lounge feature with massage function and Vitality Programme, the Sky Lounge Panorama glass roof, the Welcome Light Carpet, the Ambient highlight and a smartphone holder with inductive charging station. Standout innovations in operating system and driver assistance technology include the extension of the iDrive system to include a touch display and BMW gesture control, as well as Touch Command, the new BMW Head-Up Display, crossing traffic warning, the steering and lane control assistant, active side collision protection, Surround View with 3D View and the Remote Control Parking system.
Design: exclusive elegance
The design of the new BMW 7 Series provides an authentic showcase for the car’s character. Harmonious proportions, a strongly controlled surface design and precise lines point to the stylistic confidence, assured dynamics and exclusive elegance at work here. The optimised balance of driving pleasure and long-distance comfort finds clear expression in the unmistakable aura of the luxury sedan, which is available in both standard and long wheelbase variants.
Characteristic features of the interior include generous levels of space accentuated by its horizontal surfaces and lines, the driver-focused cockpit design, the fusion of exquisite materials and precision craftsmanship and the sophisticated functionality of the control and display elements. The M Sport package, the design Pure Excellence package and a BMW Individual Design Composition will be available for the new BMW 7 Series from launch. They underline the car’s dynamic ability, exclusive elegance and luxurious ambience to great effect, and satisfy the diverse expectations of customers around the world.
An innovative new multifunctional control unit is being offered for the new BMW 7 Series in the form of BMW Touch Command. This removable tablet with a screen diagonal of 7 inches can be used from any seat and even outside the vehicle. It lets the occupants control comfort functions such as seat adjustment, interior lighting and air conditioning, as well as the infotainment, navigation and communication system.
BMW Touch Command is capable of far more, though, as it can also be used to play external audio and video files, as a games console or for surfing the internet. A WiFi hotspot built into the vehicle provides the necessary online connectivity. Any content retrieved from the Rear-seat entertainment menu with the aid of the tablet is shown on the Rear-seat entertainment Experience system’s two 10-inch screens.
A world first: Remote Control Parking
The new BMW 7 Series is the first production car in the world that can be manoeuvred into and out of forward parking or garage spaces without the driver even having to be sitting inside the vehicle, courtesy of the optional Remote Control Parking system that takes the strain out of parking in narrow or confined spaces. The parking manoeuvre – forwards into or in reverse out of the space – is activated by the driver from outside the vehicle using the likewise new BMW Display Key and then performed semi-autonomously by the vehicle.
The vehicle moves forward when entering the space, while the exit manoeuvre is performed in reverse. While parking is taking place, the driver must keep a watch for obstructions and if necessary bring the vehicle to a controlled stop. Remote Control Parking can only be activated when the vehicle is positioned centrally in front of the selected parking space. Also, the distance the vehicle is allowed to travel in driverless mode when entering and leaving the parking space is limited to 1.5 times the length of the vehicle.
Parking assistance is also provided for drivers sitting inside the vehicle. The new version of the optional Parking Assistant makes light work of selecting and manoeuvring into parallel or forward parking spaces. It controls the entire manoeuvre into the parking space, including all the necessary steering, gear shifting, acceleration and braking operations. Active Park Distance Control also assists the driver during manual reversing manoeuvres. By autonomously braking the vehicle at the appropriate moment, it helps prevent collisions with any obstacle to the rear
of the vehicle.
BMW EfficientLightweight helps to reduce the weight of the new BMW 7 Series models by up to 130 kilograms compared to their previous generation counterparts. At the centre of it all is the body structure with Carbon Core, a product of the transfer of technology from the development of BMW i cars. The new BMW 7 Series is the first car in its segment in which industrially manufactured CFRP combines with steel and aluminium. The intelligent body concept uses this mixed-materials approach to increase the strength and rigidity of the passenger cell while at the same time significantly reducing vehicle weight.
New-generation straight-six engines
The new BMW 7 Series is available with an extensively updated V8 engine and six-cylinder in-line variants from the BMW Group’s latest generation of power units. All the engines link up as standard with the likewise further developed eight-speed Steptronic transmission. The BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which can be specified as an option, also operates more effectively than ever.
The addition to the model range of the BMW 740e sees the arrival in the luxury sedan segment of BMW eDrive technology which was first introduced in BMW i cars. The plug-in hybrid model, which will be launched in long wheelbase BMW 740Le form and bear the BMW 740Le xDrive badge when specified with intelligent all-wheel drive, is powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, which together generate total system output of 240 kW/326 hp. The BMW 740e records combined fuel consumption of
2.1 litres per 100 kilometres (134.5 mpg imp) as calculated in the EU test cycle for hybrid vehicles and a combined electric power consumption of 12.5 kWh per 100 kilometres. CO2 emissions stand at 49 grams per kilometre (provisional). The electric drive system, supplied with energy by a high-voltage lithium-ion battery, provides a noticeable boost for the combustion engines when dynamic acceleration is required. Moreover, the BMW eDrive technology enables all-electric and therefore locally emission-free driving at speeds of up to 120 km/h (75 mph) and with a range of up to 40 kilometres (25 miles).
Dynamics and ride comfort
Sophisticated, precision-honed chassis technology and additional chassis control systems – fitted as standard or available as an option – enhance both the dynamics of the new BMW 7 Series and its ride quality. At the same time, the balance between these two facets of driving pleasure reaches a level without parallel in the luxury sedan segment. Standard specification includes 2-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling and Dynamic Damper Control.
Further enhancing comfort, dynamics, poise and assurance are the latest update of the Integral Active Steering system, which can now be specified in conjunction with BMW xDrive, and the Executive Drive Pro system with active roll stabilisation and data-based predictive function, which is available for the first time. Electromechanical anti-roll bars reduce body roll under dynamic cornering and the active chassis control system adapts the dampers’ responses to ruts and bumps in the road.
The latest wave of innovations offer drivers greater freedom when selecting the perfect set-up for their car; they can opt for even sportier handling or further improved ride comfort, or use the high-efficiency ECO PRO mode. ADAPTIVE mode can now also be activated via the newly designed Driving Experience Control switch. In this setting, the car set-up adapts to driving style and route characteristics.
Intuitive operation with touch display and BMW gesture control. In the new BMW 7 Series the iDrive operating system’s monitor comes in touch display form for the first time. This means customers will also be able to operate the system in the same way as modern electronic devices. In addition to using the Controller to control the system in familiar style, its functions can also be selected and activated by touching the screen’s surface.
Another new addition to the iDrive system’s functionality is BMW gesture control, which is being introduced for the first time. Hand movements detected by a 3D sensor control infotainment functions in an extremely intuitive and user-friendly fashion. The gestures can be used for a number of functions, including controlling the volume in audio applications and accepting or rejecting incoming telephone calls. There is also the option of pairing a specific gesture with an individual choice of function. Also joining the fray is a new smartphone holder integrated into the centre console, which allows wireless, inductive charging for mobile phones for the first time in a car.
Luxury ambience with all the trimmings
The BMW 750Li xDrive, BMW 740Li, BMW 730Ld and BMW 730Ld xDrive models specified with the optional Executive Lounge, which redefines personal well-being in a luxury car, offer levels of comfort a class apart. This equipment package includes Automatic air conditioning with 4-zone control, electrically adjustable comfort seats with massage function in the rear and Active seat ventilation for all seats, plus the optional Executive Lounge Seating, Executive Lounge rear console and Rear-seat entertainment.
The massage function now also includes the Vitality Programme, which allows rear passengers to engage in active physical exercise for recuperation purposes. The Executive Lounge Seating option increases comfort in the rear seat behind the front passenger seat, which can slide forward by an additional 90 millimetres and has an electrically extendable footrest integrated into its backrest. The rear passenger can unwind into an extremely relaxing position thanks to a backrest which can recline impressively close to the horizontal position.
The Executive Lounge rear console houses a fold-out table, additional cup holders and the Touch Command system. This removable 7-inch tablet computer allows the user to control the infotainment and comfort functions available in the rear of the new BMW 7 Series and can also be used to play back external audio and video files, as a games console or to surf the internet.
Innovative driver assistance systems
The Steering and lane control assistant, Lane keeping assistant with active side collision protection, Rear collision prevention and Crossing traffic warning functions have been added to the Driving Assistant Plus system. Meanwhile, the Traffic jam assistant – which involves semi-automated driving – can be used on any type of road. And the Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function now only requires drivers to press a button to incorporate speed restrictions detected by the Speed Limit Info function. The new generation of the Surround View system now also includes a 3D View and Panorama Side View option in the Control Display.
The new BMW 7 Series embodies the contemporary yet also future-focused interpretation of exclusive driving pleasure in a luxury car. And it backs up this pioneering character with advanced and, in some cases, never before seen technology designed to help optimise driving dynamics and efficiency, safety, user-friendliness, long-distance comfort and personal well-being. Now, as before, the handover between generations at the top end of the BMW model range is accompanied by the introduction of numerous innovations which reflect the outstanding development expertise of the world’s most successful manufacturer of premium cars.
All variants of the luxury sedan combine enthralling dynamic ability with supreme ride comfort and exceptional efficiency. The new BMW 7 Series offers customers looking at the upper reaches of the sedan market the very finest in interior luxury and breaks new ground in intuitive operation and intelligent connectivity. Its exterior design exudes natural presence and powerful elegance, while the luxurious ambience of the interior is headlined by generous levels of space, innovative equipment features boasting design of rare quality, and carefully selected materials treated by the hand of precision craftsmanship in their every detail.