BMW Asia launches tech-laden new 7-series

BY Burnpavement

The sixth generation of BMW’s flagship sedan is here, and it’s lighter, cleverer and more luxurious than before.

Think of the term ”luxury sedan” and chances are the BMW 7-series will be one of the first cars to spring to mind. It, together with its arch-rival from Stuttgart, the Mercedes S-class, have some of the longest histories in the segment, with their nameplates dating back to the 1970s and beyond. 

Over its nearly four decade history, the 7-series was the first to feature some of the technology we take for granted in cars today, such as HID headlamps, and a centrally-controlled entertainment system (iDrive), just to name a few. Sadly though, the tyre spikes, sunroof-mounted rockets and remote control system found on James Bond’s E38 7-series in Tomorrow Never Dies still haven’t made it to production yet…

Anyway, on to the new car. This sixth generation 7-series’s chassis codes are G11 for the regular model and G12 for the long wheelbase one, and will come to Singapore in two flavours as standard: the 740Li with a twin turbo six-cylinder engine, or 750Li with a 4.4-litre V8. The latter will only be available from March 2016 onwards though. Also available are the more compact 740i or more frugal 730d turbodiesel, but these two are on an indent basis only.

With a car of this type, comfort, convenience and luxury are the core attributes buyers look for. With the new 7, BMW has gone one further and combined those three traits with an astonishing amount of gadgetry and technology. As such, there is no shortage of toys to play with in the interior.

The most innovations with this car can be found in the enhanced iDrive system. The graphics and visual clarity have been massively enriched, processing speeds increased, and touchscreen capability has been added. The system also incorporates Surround View, which utilises cameras around the car to provide a 360° 3D view of the surroundings, even from the perspective of someone standing beside the car (no excuses for not being able to get into a parking lot now)! Another nifty feature making its debut is Gesture Control, which allows the driver to intuitively and safely adjust the volume, switch songs/radio stations or control the 3D camera display, etc, by making specific hand movements in front of the dashboard, all without touching any buttons!

In addition to the acres of legroom granted by the generous wheelbase, occupants will be able to relax even further thanks to electric adjustability, ventilation and a massage function (with eight different programmes) across all seats. With just the touch of a button, the front passenger seat can also be fully folded forward and a footrest folded down from the seatback, for the ultimate in rear spaciousness.

Interior illumination is another new advancement, bathing the entire cabin in a soft, atmospheric glow. LED strips across the doors and dashboard can radiate six different colours to suit your mood, the panoramic glass roof can be lit up like a star-studded sky, and a Welcome Light Carpet illuminates the ground beside the car with eye-catching graphics to help you watch your step.

All of these comfort, infotainment, lighting and air conditioning features can be controlled from the back seat via BMW Touch Command, a 7-inch removable tablet embedded in the rear armrest (standard on 750Li, optional on 740Li). Think of it as an extension of the iDrive system up front, with the added ability to watch movies, play games or surf the internet while on the move.

It is on the move where the 7-series really shines. Firstly, innovations from the i-car project (that is, the i3 and i8) are now being transferred over to BMW’s conventional models. The 7-series’ body incorporates carbonfibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP) into its structure; BMW calls this the Carbon Core. This has the dual benefit of not only significantly reducing weight (up to 130kg compared to the outgoing model), but also increasing body rigidity, which aids the suspension in maintaining handling integrity and ride comfort.

To that end, the car comes with self-levelling air suspension across both axles, allowing the ride height to be raised or lowered automatically to ensure the body remains level while in motion. A system called Executive Drive Pro (standard on 750Li, optional on 740Li) further enhances ride comfort by adjusting the dampers and anti-roll bars continuously, and, in the Adaptive driving mode (in addition to the usual Sport and Comfort), can take information from the Navigation system and the current driving style to anticipate the route ahead and adjust the car’s setup to suit the conditions.

With a launch price (at press time) of S$456,800, the new 7-series is positioned in the market identically to the Mercedes S-class. Though historically not quite as hot a seller as its other Teutonic rival, the 7-series is no less capable a performer in the real world. Long may this rivalry continue on for years to come.