New BMW G11 7 Series. Stunning new 7 Series BMW’s high-tech flagship model will be its most luxurious machine to date. The all-new 7 Series G11/G12 was revealed to the world in Munich last month and with a sharp new suit and some seriously high-tech underpinnings and interior gadgets BMW is looking to rule the luxury class for some time to come. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: BMW.
So here it is, the all-new 7 Series, BMW’s statement of intent to be the manufacturer of the most advanced vehicles on the planet. Revealed in Munich last month in a ceremony attended by the entire BMW board of management – an indication, if any were needed, what an important car this is for the company – the G11 Seven is, by quite some margin, the most technologically advanced machine the company has ever built.
Whether one’s talking about its hybrid construction, its all-new six-cylinder engines or its staggering levels of equipment and optional extras it’s plain to see that BMW has really gone the extra mile with this sixth generation 7 Series. BMW is hunting down the SClass Mercedes with the G11 and expects this car to be the benchmark for executive vehicles.
When it goes on sale in the UK in October with prices starting at £64,580 we will be offered a 730d and a 740i with a plug-in Hybrid 740e due to follow in 2016. Other markets will also be offered a 450hp 750i xDrive model as a range topper but as the UK market is virtually non-existent these days for large petrol engined machinery this will not be an option for UK buyers. No doubt in time further variants will come to market — a V12 petrol model and a more potent diesel are a shoe-in — but for the time being we’ll be restricted to the two six-cylinder models mentioned above. We’ll come on to those engines in a moment but to start with we’ll kick things off by looking at the design of the new Seven.
The ‘Welcome Light Carpet’ guides you into the Seven’s enticing cockpit.
It’s certainly a case of evolution rather than revolution when it comes to the shape of the new 7 Series — no E65-style shocks for this generation thank you very much — and overall it’s a very hand some looking car. To our eyes the kidney grilles are perhaps a bit too large but BMW has done this on purpose to endow its latest flagship with a dominating look from the front. Heaven forbid someone might mistake your all-new Seven for a lesser BMW model! It does have a strong family resemblance to the rest of the BMW family and in profile from a distance it has very similar lines to the F30 generation of 3 Series. It’s well proportioned and has some lovely detailing, particularly in the chrome that runs around the windows and from the air-breather aft of the front wheels. The chrome surround on the rear doors is milled from a single piece of metal and while it might sound like a trifling item it does look particularly attractive in the flesh giving a very stylish and fresh look to the Hofmeister kink. You’ll be able to make your own mind up on the way it looks of course, but we’d say that it’s far more arresting in the flesh than it appears in the majority of BMW’s rather uninspiring set of press pictures it’s released of the car.
All models come with full LED lights as standard; these laserlights will be on the options. Kidney grille features active aerodynamics; lavish chrome trim surrounds mirrors and rear door aperture.
That it’s a large machine is a given — in standard wheelbase form it’s nearly two centimetres longer than the outgoing machine — and in long wheelbase guise it now measures 5238mm – a significant 14 centimetres longer than the standard car. Despite this increase in size and the additional kit that’s been added to its standard specification, the new Seven is actually up to 130 kilos lighter than the previous generation 7 Series and that’s down to an innovative use of materials in the car’s construction. At its heart is what BMW is calling a ‘Carbon Core’ which involves the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic for some key components. From the A- to the C-pillars there’s a carbon panel which allows the steel around it to be lighter and some of the roof bearing components, the rear shelf and parts of the sills and B- and C-pillars also contain carbon panels, some constructed from freshly weaved carbon, some using recycled sections from the i cars. BMW has even come up with an innovative process where it can bond the carbon to the steel in the B-pillar which not only makes it lighter but offers improved side impact protection too.
There’s also a significant amount of aluminium in the car’s construction with the bonnet, doors and, for the first time, the bootlid being entirely made from aluminium. It’s also used extensively in parts of the chassis and suspension which BMW reckons reduces the unsprung masses by up to 15 per cent and also lowers the car’s centre of gravity too.
With the new Seven BMW has taken luxury to new levels for the marque. Executive Lounge Seating moves passenger seat forward and gives you an electric footrest, too. LED light strips act as nice interior highlights and six different colours can be chosen. Left: Inductive ’phone charger. Below: BMW Touch Command tablet.
Providing the motive power for UK Sevens are a brace of new six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines from the new B generation of powerplants. The 2998cc petrol in the 740i develops 326hp and 332lb ft of torque and is equipped by the normal raft of BMW’s latest techno wizardry such as direct injection, double Vanos, Valvetronic and a twin-scroll turbocharger that features an indirect system of charge air-cooling that’s incorporated into the intake manifold. The head, block and sump are all constructed from aluminium. It endows the Seven with a decent turn of speed too, with 0-62mph coming up in 5.6 seconds while its top speed is limited to 155mph. It’s frugal — offering up 41.5mpg on the official combined cycle and emits just 159g/km of CO² — which is an impressive feat for something that’s so quick and big.
As you’d expect, the amount of gadgetry packed into the Seven is impressive
Despite its impressive figures it’s not the 740i that will be the big seller in the UK where diesel is king as the new 730d will almost certainly garner the lion’s share of sales. It develops 265hp and a stonking 457lb ft of torque from its new 2993cc B57 unit that is said to have improved thermodynamic properties, revised variable turbocharger technology and a new 2500 bar direct injection setup. The bottom line, though, is a set of figures that appear to be bordering on alchemy. The benchmark dash is dispatched in just 6.1 seconds yet its combined economy figure is a monumental 60.1mpg while emissions are equally impressive at just 124g/km.
New gesture control allows you to operate certain functions with a swish of the hand.
Joining the 740i and the 730d next year will be the first PHEV 7 Series in the form of the 740e which will use a combination of a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and an electric motor in a drivetrain very similar to that of the X5 xDrive40e that you can read about on page 22. With combined power and torque outputs of 326hp and 369lb ft it’s seriously rapid (0- 62mph takes just 5.6 seconds) yet on the official combined cycle it will achieve 134.5mpg and emit just 49g/km of CO². In the real world there’s no chance of it achieving these figures but it does have a useful all-electric range of 25 miles and can achieve speeds of up to 75mph on electric power alone.
All models in the new 7 Series range feature the brilliant eight-speed auto we’ve become accustomed to in the latest BMW automatics and for the Seven BMW reckons it’s been further refined with a new control system that should endow the box with even smoother changes. It also gives it the ability to link into the navigation system so it knows when to swap cogs when climbing hills or approaching roundabouts. The UK will also receive some four-wheel drive models and both the 730d and the long wheel base version of the 740e can be ordered in xDrive guise.
While the 7 Series has always been acknowledged as the driver’s car in its class it’s always struggled to match the S-Class and other rivals for ride comfort, but BMW is hoping to change all that with the new car. For the first time the Seven will feature selflevelling air suspension on both the front and rear axles and this will be a standard feature on all models. It’s combined with a double joint front axle setup, a five-link system at the rear and standard fit Variable Damper Control which BMW hopes will both improve ride and suspension comfort while providing dynamic handling qualities. The standard car can also be further enhanced with what BMW is dubbing an ‘Executive Drive Pro’ feature that will be part of the options list and encompasses a new incarnation of the Dynamic Drive active roll stabilisation system that’s now controlled electromechanically rather than hydraulically.
According to BMW, when the car’s driving in a straight line the adjustable anti-roll bars are set so as to allow the suspension system the greatest possible freedom of movement for increased comfort but when tackling bends at speed the body roll forces are equalised swiftly and precisely. It’s perhaps inside the new Seven that BMW has really gone to town, and while the overall dash design owes much to the recent models that have come before it, for the 7 Series BMW has really upped the stakes as far as quality of materials used and the new technology that’s packed into the car. The steering wheel controls, heating and ventilation and stereo inputs are now constructed from a high quality chrome that BMW says is individually tailored for each car to ensure a perfect fit, and these chrome sections are surrounded by high-quality wood trims.
The iDrive system and the multifunctional instrument display have been thoroughly updated and as standard the car comes with a huge 12.3-inch display complete with the Professional Navigation system. For the first time, many of the car’s functions can now be controlled from a new touch-screen interface – we’re so familiar with touch-screens from modern mobiles and tablets that BMW felt the need to add this to the system. There’s also now a new gesture control system which allows you to turn up the stereo volume or accept or reject incoming phone calls with a flick of the hand detected by a 3D sensor mounted in the roof. Overkill maybe when you already have the iDrive controller, steering wheel mounted controls, the new touch-screen and voice commands already at your disposal, but BMW reckons it simply gives the customer more choice in the way that he or she can operate the car.
As you’d expect, the amount of gadgetry packed into the Seven is impressive. There’s four-zone climate control air conditioning (with separate controls for rear seat passengers), Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming along with an inductive charger for the owner’s smartphone in the centre arm rest between the front seats. The standard Comfort seats will be available in a choice of six exclusive Nappa leather colours and the front seats have a massage function that offer eight different programs ‘designed to relax and stimulate the muscles in regions of the body that can be individually selected’. There’s even a ‘Vitality Programme’ for optional massage rear seats so passengers can also revitalise their bodies!
In order that you can select the right ambience in the passenger compartment, BMW has packed the Seven full of different lighting options. There’s the standard ‘Ambient’ lighting that runs around the cockpit as a series of LED light strips which can be changed through six different colours. To light your way to the car in the dark there’s a new ‘Welcome Light Carpet’ that projects lighting graphics to the entrance/exit area from lights incorporated into the side skirts. Long wheelbase versions that are spec’d with rear roller blinds will be equipped with an Ambient highlight – vertically arranged lights in the back of the B-pillar which can be adjusted depending on your mood. Then there’s the ‘Sky Lounge Panoramic glass roof’ which can be specified as an option that’s a two-section sunroof (only the front section opens) that’s incrusted with LED modules to create the effect of a starlit sky… and obviously the colour of your stars can be swapped between six different colour schemes. There’s even an optional ‘Ambient Air Package’ to ensure your olfactory senses aren’t feeling left out which releases an ionised fragrance (there are eight to choose from) in three different levels of intensity.
While some of this might sound like it’s bordering on overkill there will no doubt be plenty of markets where these trinkets are in demand, but in amongst the fripperies there’s also plenty of good stuff too. Like the ‘Executive Lounge Seating’ (which doesn’t actually come on stream until July 2016) which offers the promise of superlative rear seat comfort thanks to the fact that with this setup the front passenger seat moves as far forward as possible and as its backrest can also be tilted forward it gives a huge amount of space along with an electrically operated footrest that drops down from the back of the passenger seat. There’s also a new ‘BMW Touch Command’ unit – effectively a removable tablet with a seven-inch screen – that can be used to operate the rear seat entertainment system or the air conditioning, interior lighting or for surfing the internet. There’s even an airline style tray that’s stored within the rear seat centre console.
BMW expects this car to be the benchmark for executive vehicles.
In amongst all this gadgetry for the passengers the driver hasn’t been neglected and there’s a new headup display system that’s 75 per cent larger than the previous version and if at the end of a long day the driver doesn’t fancy squeezing the Seven into its garage then he can simply get out of the car and use the new ‘BMW Display Key’ to park the car. As you’d expect there are a host of Connected Drive services such as a new ‘Driving Assistant’ safety package. This includes items such as rear collision prevention and rear crossing traffic warning as well as the familiar lane change and lane departure warnings and the Active Cruise Control system. For night time driving there are standard-fit LED headlights than can be bolstered with the optional Adaptive and Selective beam and even BMW Night Vision or the optional BMW Laserlight headlights first seen on the i8.
There’s no doubting the fact that BMW has really pushed the boat out when it comes to the new Seven and it features the sort of specification and a list of features that we’d have dismissed as cloud cuckoo land just a few years ago. It would seem that the car has all the right ingredients to really take on the Mercedes S-Class but the proof of the pudding will be when we get to drive the 7 Series later this year. We can’t wait.
M Sport model features more aggressive aerodynamics and Shadowline trim. We’re not sure white will be the best colour, though.
|MODEL||730d||730Ld||730d xDrive||740Li||740e||740Le xDrive|
|ENGINE:||Six-cylinder, 24-valve||Four-cylinder, 16-valve plus electric motor|
|POWER:||265hp @ 4000rpm||326hp @ 5500-6500rpm||Combined output (engine & electric motor) 326hp|
|TORQUE:||457lb ft @ 2000-2500rpm||295lb ft @ 1380-5000rpm||Combined torque (engine & electric motor) 369lb ft|
|0-62MPH:||6.1 seconds||6.2 seconds||5.8 seconds||5.6 seconds||5.6 seconds||5.5 seconds|