BMW 7 – A peerless symbiosis of comfort and luxury
A hugely important car for BMW, is this all-new 7-Series. BMW reckons its big-limo buyers run a mile from anything radical-looking (and it would know: remember the Bangle-era car?), which is why the big 7 looks, well, pretty much identical to the old one. It’s beneath the bodywork where things get properly interesting…
The highlight is the bodyshell. BMW made use of techniques and production methods devised for the i3 and i8 to trim 40kg from the 7’s chassis, which incorporates bits of carbon fibre (some as long as a normal-sized bloke is tall) for added stiffness, strength and lightness. All told, the new 7 is some 130kg lighter than the old car. A net 200 if you factor in all the added kit, which weighs 70kg by itself.
The straight-sixes on the 730d and 740i are all-new, from today’s modular family. And the diesel at least (we haven’t yet driven the petrol) is a lot quieter and smoother than before. On the road, the 7 is tremendously isolating. The ride is terrific, soaking up bumps of all sizes, and keeping body heave well contained. Air suspension and adaptive dampers are fitted as standard, which help, as does the lightness of the chassis.
Option ‘Executive Drive Pro’, and you get a pair of variable anti-roll bars which, along with the dampers and optional all-wheel steering, use GPS & cameras to anticipate the road ahead. It really can attack tight and twisty corners like a much smaller car.
But in spite of that, with its whispy-quiet and ultra-light steering, it all feels a bit remote. Bit of a pity, that, given that it’s a BMW and is meant to be all about being the ultimate driving machine and everything.
You can control the main screen via the iDrive knob, or by voice command, as before. But BMW has newly added touch sensitivity, which is super-handy for map zooming and scrolling. And there’s a new party trick: a camera looks at your hand movements near the screen, so by simply waving or swiping or jabbing or twisting in its general direction you can perform certain infotainment functions. And if you don’t feel like waving your hand about like a loon, all the buttons have a nice new brushed-metal finish.
Oh, and the back is predictably limo-y. Particularly in LWB form: you can have electrically-adjustable, heated ‘n cooled lounging-style seats, touchscreen infotainment connectivity and more 4G wifi hotspots than you’re ever likely to have devices.