The new generation BMW 7-Series gets a larger and wider kidney grille with Active Aero function for improved fuel efficiency, bulging hood with neat character lines and a strong shoulder line running up till the LED tail lamps. The new model also gets Laserlight headlamps as optional from the i8 adding to the oomph factor of the Bavarian saloon. BMW has used carbon fibre, steel, aluminium, and plastic in its construction calling it carbon core structure and has achieved 200 kg in weight savings. In terms of features, the model gets an upgraded 5.0-inch iDrive system with touchscreen and gesture control added for the first time. The easy-to-use control knob still remains in its place. The leather upholstered seats get massage and ventilation function for enhanced comfort while additional bits include heated doors and armrests.
EXTERIORS AND DESIGN ;
Where the last Seven looked like an evolution of its direct predecessor, the latest version of BMW’s limousine looks entirely new. The lines are tauter and BMW has gone for a sportier, more dynamic design. It appears even longer than the car it replaces, though overall length for the long wheelbase version we get in India is up by just 19mm to 5,238mm. You’ll find all of BMW’s traditional elements here such as the kidney grille, the twin rings on each of the headlights and Hofmeister kink at the rear windows, but the execution is different. For instance, the headlights are more spread-out and now fuse into the grille that itself is larger than ever before. Interestingly, the new Seven is the first BMW to feature air flap control where the flaps behind the grille’s slats open or close depending on the engine’s cooling requirement. There are other subtle aerodynamic aids too. Look closely and you’ll spot openings at either end of the front bumpers that are there to guide the airstream past the wheels, while the vents at the sides of the body channel the air flow from the wheel wells.
Chrome highlights at the base of the doors accentuate the Seven’s massive 3.2 metre wheelbase (longest in its class), but from no angle does the car look ungainly. Still, a bit more personality at the tail would have been welcome. Our M Sport trim test car’s body kit also divided opinion. Where some of us found the swoopier front bumpers with their oversized air dams and the rear bumpers with the faux diffuser well done, others found it to be overkill. The ‘standard’ Design Pure Excellence version does look more elegant while also costing around Rs 9 lakh less. However, it uses 18-inch rims (the M Sport gets 19-inchers) and also comes with LED headlights in place of the M Sport’s laser headlights.
The latest 730Ld is 105kg lighter than the old one, and that’s despite being loaded with a whole lot more gizmos and tech. A large part of the weight savings have come from the body itself that is made of high-strength steel, aluminium and, remarkably, carbonfibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP). In a nutshell, CFRP is light, strong and rigid but prohibitively costly. However, BMW has made giant strides in this area with its i car programme and has mastered producing this high-tech material on an industrial scale to make it relatively more affordable.
In a departure from the old 7-series that got air suspension only for the rear wheels, the latest-generation car features self-levelling air suspension at all four corners. The suspension can lift by 20mm when needed and automatically drops by 10mm when Sport mode is activated. The driving modes include EcoPro, Comfort, Comfort Plus, Sport and Sport Plus, each with pre-defined engine, gearbox, steering and damper settings. But for the first time, you can also mix and match the various settings to your liking and can even opt for Adaptive mode where the car studies driving style and automatically configures the set-up.
INTERIORS AND SPACE ;
Generally speaking, customers in the market for a big luxury sedan like this probably care more about the interior than anything else, and the 2016 BMW 7 Series won’t disappoint. The lack of a standard-wheelbase model means that all 2016 7 Series cars deliver maximum rear-passenger space, and things get even better for rear occupants with the new Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package that gives the right-side passenger the added comfort of a pop-out footrest and a seatback that reclines up to 42.5 degrees.
All 2016 BMW 7 Series sedans come standard with a panoramic roof while a more intense Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof is optionaBMW made sure to nail down the comfort of the new 7 Series, but this car is still packed with plenty of tech, the coolest of which is the iDrive 5.0 with touch display and Gesture Control, which uses 3D sensors to detect pre-selected hand gestures to perform tasks such as adjusting the audio volume, accepting and rejecting incoming phone calls, navigating to a home address and shutting off the screen.
Other tech goodies include the Touch Command Tablet — a removable 7-inch tablet that allows rear occupants to control everything from HVAC temps to infotainment, and the Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system with 1,400 watts and 16 speakers. As usual, BMW will put endless customization options at the disposal of its buyers, including a range of unique configurations via the Individual division.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The BMW 7-Series is offered with a V8 petrol engine or an inline-6 diesel engine. Considering it will be the oil burner which will garner maximum sales in India, we tested it first. The engine is the latest iteration of the older powerplant found in the previous generation 7-Series. With significant reworking on the engine by BMW, the power and torque figures have come up by 7 BHP and 60 Nm respectively. This results in the new 730Ld being the fastest car among its rivals and the reduction in weight by 105 kgs also helps. The weight loss has been achieved with the use of high strength steel aluminium and CRFP in the body of this BMW.
As expected from a luxo barge, power is delivered in a linear manner which limits the pinned to the seat effect. In Comfort mode, the car has enough pep to do quick overtakes. The Sport and Sport+ modes are for those rare occasions when the owner wants to indulge in a bit of fun or if the chauffeur has a heavy foot. Due to the sharp throttle response in Sport+ mode, it is best left for open roads. The EcoPro mode is a smart choice for when the traffic is barely moving or you are cruising at a calm 100 km/hr on the highway. The brilliant 8-speed ZF gearbox compliments the engine very well and ensures you are always in the right gear.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The 7 Series, as mentioned earlier, is lighter than its predecessor. This is a great feat considering the car is larger and gets a lot more safety and comfort features. BMW engineers brought down the weight by changing the material used in the body structure. The composite construction now features CFRP (Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic), high-tensile steel and aluminium. This makes the structure a lot more rigid and lighter at the same time. The Carbon Core body, as BMW calls it, comes from the technology used in the BMW i cars. The 7 gains from BMW’s experience and learnings in this department. In fact, the company claims that it’s the first car ever to use this hybrid construction.
The lower kerb weight and chassis development has resulted in a better handling car on the road. It continues to impress in terms of dynamics and is one of those large luxury cars that will put a smile on the driver’s face. Adaptive air suspension can automatically choose the right setting, or one can choose between pre-set modes (that also work in conjunction with the various drive modes). One can also increase the car’s ride height making it ideal when one has to drive through potholes and those high-speed breakers that are unique to India. Ride quality is very impressive, especially in comfort plus mode. So whether it’s long-distance drives or the city commute, the passenger is in ease at all times
Standard safety features on all 7 Series sedans include antilock disc brakes, stability control, a tire-pressure monitor, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags; a driver’s knee airbag and a four-year subscription to BMW Assist telematics; rear-seat side airbags are optional. The stability control system governs several advanced braking features, including a brake-drying feature that periodically wipes the brake rotors when the windshield wipers are in use. Front and rear parking sensors are standard, and you can opt for the Night Vision system, which uses an infrared camera to monitor obstacles nearly 1,000 feet ahead of your 7 Series.
The car has high quality material, excellent finish down to the closest details, refinement and cutting edge technology unlike other saloons of today. Its evolutionary styling, classy interior design and improved ride quality takes the experience to the new level. It is a significantly improved car over its predecessor, but may take some time to impress individual customers. Its pricing is one factor that gives it an edge over the likes of Mercedes S Class and Audi A8. If you are looking for a pure luxury car without concerns about budget, then 7 Series is the one for you.