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Why the 7-Series is BMW's crystal ball
Made of carbon and aluminium, parks all on its own: all-new flagship limo is the future of BMW
This is the brand-new BMW 7-Series, the sixth generation of Munich’s luxury flagship saloon.
But, more importantly than that, it’s a crystal ball for the future of nearly all things BMW. Everything in this car will filter down through the family tree to the 3- and 1-Series, Minis and the rest.
But let’s start with the headlines, which run as thus. The all-new 7-Series features better crash resistance than ever before. It’s stiffer. It’s lighter. There’s lots of carbon fibre and aluminium in the construction. The suspension is new. It’ll even park itself.
At its very core, the new 7-Series features a, um, ‘Carbon Core’, which uses technology transferred from the i3 supermini and i8 supercar. It’s a monocoque formed from carbon fibre reinforced plastic, ultra high-tensile steels and aluminium. Expect this to make its way onto smaller mainstream Beemers.
Thanks to the use of CFRP and aluminium, the new 7-Series is up to 130kg lighter than the model it replaces, weighing as little as 1725kg. That’s flyweight by the standards of five-metre-long limos.
With less to hustle around, the 7-Series is faster than ever before. Enter the Big BMW V8. With weight distribution at a perfect 50:50, Munich’s twin-turbo 4.4-litre leads the charge as the range-topper, here badged 750i (and 750Li for the long-wheelbase version).
It produces 444bhp, and features turbos fitted in the ‘V’ of the cylinder banks, new intake and exhaust manifolds, and a new coolant pump. The 750i, in xDrive form, will accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and top out at a limited 155mph. Not slow.
There’s also a 322bhp 3.0-litre straight-six in the 740i - derived from the same family of engines as the Mini and i8 three-pots - that’ll manage 0-62mph in 5.5s.
Want diesel? You’re looking at a 3.0-litre straight-six with 261bhp and a handy 457lb ft of torque. That one is badged 730d. Tick the box marked ‘740e’ (or 740Le xDrive) and you’ll get a hybrid 7-Series.
The petrol-electric 740e gets a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine with an electric motor bolted to the auto ‘box, fed from a battery hiding under the rear seats. Combined, they produce 322bhp, with the 740e officially returning 134.5mpg and emitting just 49g/km of CO2. If you drive it on e-power alone, you get 25 miles of range and a 75mph top speed. Not at the same time.
All engines come with an eight-speed auto, and there’s new air suspension on board as standard, which adjusts the ride height depending on the mode selected (higher for standard, lower for ‘Sport’), or via a camera which scans the road ahead for, um, smoothness. Or lack thereof.
Inside, it’s all business. The new iDrive is a touch-screen (though a rotary knob is still there), and there’s the option of gesture control, too, for example controlling the audio, or answering a call.
And, of course, there are plenty of sensors to tell you about traffic and other cars, and plenty of assistance to make sure you don’t join them in a tangled mess.
The seats are new (and massaging, if optioned). There’s a panorama glass roof (again, if optioned). There’s even the option of a ‘remote control parking’ mechanism, whereby you can manoeuvre the 7-er into and out of a tight spot from outside the car, using just the key. Superb, right?
Sure, it looks like a conservative refresh of BMW’s trademark big saloon design - in some angles like a 3-Series on steroids, no? - and that remote parking is indeed a cool trick. But as TG’s Paul Horrell noted on his first drive of a prototype new 7-Series BMW, it’s the fundamentals on display that are of note.
Make no mistake, if you like your Bee-Ems, this one matters.