The skinny: BMW’s all new flagship brings about one of the most revolutionary changes in the 38-year history of the 7 Series. You may not pick it from the restrained, classy saloon exterior, but under the skin lies a carbon-fibre structure combined with steel and aluminium, with a weight-saving of up to 130 kilograms.
More importantly, the interior of the 7 Series is a truly premium experience. Taking lessons learnt from BMW’s experience with Rolls Royce, the new 7 ups the ante for modern cosseting luxury (enough, surely, to have Mercedes-Benz wringing its collective hands).
Vehicle Style: Upper-large luxury sedan
Price: $217,500 - $312,700 (plus on-roads)
730d: 195kW/620Nm 3.0 6cyl diesel | 8sp automatic
740i: 240kW/450Nm 3.0 6cyl turbo petrol | 8sp automatic
750i: 330kW/650Nm 4.0 6cyl turbo petrol | 8sp automatic
730d claimed: 4.9 l/100km
740i claimed: 7.0 l/100km | tested: 6.9 l/100km
750i claimed: 8.1-8.3 l/100km
'Carbon Core' construction, 'Display Key', 'Gesture Control': it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to innovations - but the new BMW 7 Series has plenty of them.
It also has a full complement of high-end features as standard, Nappa leather upholstery, adaptive LED headlights (laser headlights for 750i and 750Li), configurable LED ambient lighting, adaptive air-suspension, Harman Kardon audio, and more... put it all together and Aussie-delivered 7s are the best equipped in the world.
From launch, two variants will be available, the 730d with a six-cylinder turbo diesel, and the 740i and 740Li twins with BMW’s newest 3.0 litre turbo six under the bonnet. From next year the V8 powered 750i and 750Li will also be available.
Prices rise slightly, with the 730d some $10,000 above the outgoing model, but there’s $25,900 of added equipment by BMW’s calculations to balance the ledger, with even more features added as you work up through the range.
BMW isn’t about to water-down its mantra of building ‘driver’s cars’ at the executive end of the market either. It may be impressively large, and more limousine than sporting saloon, but the new 7 Series retains BMW's 'ultimate driving machine' dna.
With a new interpretation of BMW’s interior design themes, top quality finishes, impressive technological innovations, and high levels of comfort, the competition really ought to be concerned.
730d, 740i, 740Li, 750i: Nappa leather upholstery, power adjustable multi-contour front seats with heating and cooling, rear and rear side sunblinds, soft-close doors and boot lid, configurable ambient lighting, auto lights and wipers, proximity key with pushbutton start, Display Key, adaptive LED headlights, four-zone climate control, powered sunroof (panoramic roof on 740Li), colour head up display, active criose control and speed limiter, 19-inch alloy wheels
750i: BMW Laserlight headlights, night vision with pedestrian recognition, 20-inch alloy wheels.
750Li: (In addition to 750i) Massage function for front and rear seats, heated rear seats and armrests, rear seat cooling, LED-lit ‘Sky Lounge’ panoramic roof,
Infotainment: 10.2-inch touchscreen, iDrive control, Gesture Control, DAB+ digital radio, 20GB media storage, rear 7.0-inch tablet, 16 speaker Harman Kardon audio, digital TV tuner (750i and 750Li), 2x 10.0-inch rear screens, WiFi connectivity, Blu-Ray drive, HDMI input (750Li)
Cargo volume: 515 litres
Everything inside has a familiar BMW look, yet there’s an extra layer of sumptuous attention to detail.
Every button has a gloss black or metallic-film coating, there’s leather on every surface you touch, the dash, the doors, and even the back of the gear selector.
New Nappa leather seats, perforated and diamond-quilted, feature heating and cooling up front and a boggling range of electric adjustment. The steering column is also electrically adjustable, and the steering wheels and armrests are also heated.
Four-zone climate control means no-one need be uncomfortable, a sunroof is standard equipment in short wheelbase models, while the 740Li gains a panoramic roof and the 750Li will ship with a ‘Sky Lounge’ panoramic roof, with LED-lit etched glass that lights up 15,000 graphic surfaces and makes the 7 Series feel like a Dubai hotel on wheels.
Comfort, as you’d expect is brilliant, there’s no shortage of ways to tailor the front seats, and the rear is spacious, with leg and headroom aplenty. Opt for one of the long wheelbase Li models and there’s an even more generous amount of rear seat space.
All models feature iDrive Touch, a BMW staple, with a rotary controller that can understand handwritten inputs. New to the 7 Series is touchscreen capability for the 10.2 inch screen for easier operation of iDrive functions and inputs.
The real party piece is gesture control. Without the need to take your eyes off the road, you can use a range of hand actions, performed in the space above the centre console, to adjust the volume, skip tracks, answer or reject a call, pinch and pull the 360-degree camera’s point of view, and more.
Rear-seat occupants get their own Touch Command 7.0-inch touchscreen tablet, with tethered internet access, plus vehicle control functions for seats, heating and audio, it simply clips into the centre console for charging.
But the item you’ll be most easily able to show off is the new Display Key, with a 2.2-inch colour touch screen that lets you check the vehicle’s fuel level and range, service info, vehicle locking, and gives you remote control of windows, lights, and starting the car.
From next year, you’ll also be able to use it as a remote control to park your car whilst standing outside the vehicle. As well as the Display Key, two regular keys are also included, if you’d like to carry something more compact.
Head for the boot - electrically operated with hands-free opening, of course - and there’s 515 litres of space, with a through-loading hatch for long items. Automatic soft-close is included on the boot and all four doors.
ON THE ROAD
730d: 195kW/620Nm 3.0 litre in-line six-cylinder turbo diesel
740i, 740Li: 240kW/450Nm 3.0 litre in-line six-cylinder turbo petrol
750i, 750Li: 330kW/650Nm 4.0 litre V8 twin-turbo petrol
Transmission: Eight speed automatic, rear wheel drive
Suspension: Front and rear adaptive air suspension type, double wishbone front axle
Brake: four-wheel ventilated disc brakes
Steering: electric power steering
Out on the highway the new 7 Series is as serene as you’ll find, able to effortlessly eat up big miles in total and absolute comfort.
To that end, there’s now two accessible Comfort modes for the 'Driving Experience Control': a standard 'Comfort' and even more gentle 'Comfort+' mode.
The ride is one of absolute grace - smooth and quiet on mind-numbing freeway sections, the air suspension able to blot out and banish any road surface imperfections.
Find yourself on a more challenging section of road, and Sport or Sport+ modes firm up the suspension, sharpen the shift points for the eight-speed automatic, and gives the big beast a level of dynamism that belies its size.
The cars we drove were fitted with Executive Drive Pro, a chassis control system that includes electromechanical roll bars and a stereoscopic camera that detects road imperfections and can adjust the suspension to counter them. It’s standard on the 750 models, but optional on all others.
Much of our time was spent behind the wheel of the 740i, BMW’s new 3.0 litre straight-six turbo engine. With 240kW of power and 450Nm of torque, that’s plenty of oomph to get the big sedan moving, with a claimed 0-100km/h time of just 5.5 seconds.
You’ll find the same motor in the recently updated 3 Series (and it will spread across the BMW range) but in this application it is more hushed, and civil, befitting the 7’s nature.
Entry to the range is courtesy of the 730d, and a 3.0 litre diesel six-cylinder capable of 195kW and a lush 620Nm of torque. In this application you can barely pick the diesel engine up front.
Not only is it near-silent on the inside, but even standing next to the idling engine the diesel tick has been minimised. Jump on the throttle and it can sprint to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds, with a fantastically deep and gravelly engine note to make itself known.
The steering provides a decent level of in-tune feedback as to the road surface underneath, with a solid weighting on the open road while almost effortless to wheel around in tight city confines.
Our fuel consumption in the 730i for the introductory drive settled on an indicated 6.9 l/100km - just a touch below the official 7.0 l/100km factory figure, but helped slightly by the mostly freeway miles covered.
ANCAP rating: The 7 Series is yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Six airbags, front active head restraints, force limiting three-point seatbelts in all seats, with front pretensioners, Active Protection which closes the windows and sunroof, and adjusts the passenger seats if it detects an imminent crash, Traction and stability control, 360-degree camera.
Driver assistance technology includes active park distance control, lane change and lane departure warning, steering and lane control assistant, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection with light city braking, active cruise control with stop and go function, rear collision prevention, front and rear cross traffic alert.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The obvious rival - and the one that should start to show some fear, is the Mercedes-Benz S-class. Thanks to new materials and a high level of spec, the 7 comes very close to matching Merc’s impressive interior.
Other executive limos, some of which are really starting to show their age include the Jaguar XJ, Audi A8 and Lexus LS. All try very hard to offer the kind of dynamics of BMW, but the flagship 7 still rules.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
While the outgoing 7 Series was well-finished and impeccably assembled, it lacked a little wow factor inside.
But no such shortcomings with this new model. From the cool touch of the metallised start-button, to the slick touchscreen climate control panel, all the fine details are in place.
Subtle LED lighting, gorgeous quilted leather seats - the finishes are the very definition of sumptuous modern luxury.
And the technology? Just brilliant. The Gesture Control interface is easy and intuitive to learn, and the Display Key too points the way to the future of smart systems integrated with your vehicle.
But, for all the tech, and all the luxury on offer, the 7 Series hasn’t lost its dynamic prowess on road or that elusive feel of 'the driver’s car'. While it may make fantastic sense as corporate transport during the week, it won't be afraid to show its sporty side on the weekend.
To top it off, the 7 Series range now includes three-years free servicing (condition-based), including all parts and labour with the exception of wear items like tyres, brakes and wipers.
That’s something that even the most demanding of customers is sure to appreciate.
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