The all-new 2016 BMW 7 Series is a sixth generation edition of the brand’s big, flagship sedan.
The new styling is another evolutionary step and still instantly recognizable as a BMW. Dimensionally this car is the same as the outgoing model, yet it has a radically new and innovative sub-structure.
And the latter, coupled with remarkable onboard technology, is what caught my attention. Today, much is unique to the 7 series but, figuratively speaking, tomorrow it will spread through the range and the day after it will doubtless be coming to a car near you!
The new 7 Series, offers a showcase of the very latest technologies that BMW has to offer, combined with more advanced forms of technologies already available. Sadly, a novel driverless “self-parking” technology (controlled by the key fob and available in Europe) has not (yet) received Canadian regulatory approval. A similar (delayed approval) story also applies to a new adaptive LED headlight option.
Another fascinating new (multi-media) feature is Gesture Control, which lets an operator do things like raise audio volume by twirling your finger, take a phone call with a finger point or wave it away with a wrist flick. An operator can also add customized gestures to trigger a function… a couple come to mind!
Pandering to the non-driving owners is an interesting optional interior first for BMW, a feature called “Executive Lounge”. A feet-up recliner in the right rear seat has a body massage feature and a multi-media experience controlled by a removable touch-screen tablet, which is mounted in a clever docking feature. Got to admit, it was rear seat test drive to savour – and yes, I do love this job!
BMW is pioneering a different way to improve body rigidity and reduce weight, explained Dr. Wolfgang Hundt, the Project Manager for Driving Dynamics & Driving Assistance. It uses carbon-fibre (reinforced plastic) in key (core) locations of the structure of the new 7 Series. An indicator of how strongly committed BMW is to the use of this ultra-light yet super-strong material is the expansion work (to triple production output) already in progress at its relatively new Moses Lake (Washington State) carbon-fibre manufacturing plant.
I was most impressed by the balance and poise of the 750i xDrive (with an M-Sport package) on the Monticello Motor Club, in up-state New York. In Sport mode the new 7 is so wonderfully light on its feet that you can very easily forget you’re behind the wheel of a big sedan. This mode drops the standard air suspension an additional 10mm and it seems to firm-up and tighten everything. The difference between Sport and Comfort modes was quite dramatic and there’s a new one “Adaptive”. It matches the vehicle set-up to the driver’s current driving style and a profile of the route ahead, by talking to the navigation system.
A redesigned optional Integral Active Steering system can now be offered in conjunction with the xDrive all-wheel drive system. It can turn the rear wheels in the same or an opposing direction as the front wheels to increase manoeuvrability in urban traffic and agility at highway speeds.
The extremely rigid body structure is a ground-breaking marriage of steel, aluminum and carbon-fibre (core) members. The end result is a 7 Series with a much lower centre of gravity and close to perfect front/rear weight distribution.
The 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive editions will soon be arriving in Canadian BMW dealer showrooms. A BMW 750i xDrive model will have a starting MSRP of $113,900, and a long-wheelbase 750iL xDrive at $117,900. Pricing, which should be lower, for the 740 editions will be announced closer to market launch next year.
A redesigned 4.4 litre V 8 engine with TwinPower Turbo technology can produce 445 hp and rocket a 750i to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds (according to BMW). It’s teamed with an eight-speed automatic and a new version of BMW’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system in the 750i xDrive.
BMW’s venerable 3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder engine, which now also features TwinPower Turbo technology, will power 740i xDrive and 740Li xDrive editions. A plug-in hybrid 740e xDrive will also join the model lineup in 2016. Its 2.0-litre gas engine is paired with electric drive unit that’s integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic transmission and it comes with a lithium-ion battery pack.