After teasing us with the promise of a number of high-tech firsts, BMW has finally taken the wraps off its new flagship. The 7 Series will go into battle with Mercedes' and Audi's finest long-wheelbase warriors armed with a lightweight, supercar-inspired body and a gesture-controlled iDrive system.
In its quest for large car enlightenment, Bavaria's finest engineers have drawn on the lessons learned in producing the carbon-rich i3 and i8 to try and save weight in the 7 Series. The new car's Carbon Core body construction integrates carbon fiber with aluminum and high-tensile steel for greater structural rigidity – important structural components like the B-pillars are made from high tensile steel, while the car's trunk lid and doors are made up of aluminum.
These weight-saving measures, combined with lightweight components in the wheels, suspension and brakes, contribute to weight loss of up to 130 kg (286 lb) over the old 7 Series, as well as a lower center of gravity and a 15 percent reduction in unsprung mass.
While many owners may not even notice all the effort that's gone into saving weight in their 7 Series, they will definitely notice the improvements made to the interior. Having introduced iDrive in the fourth generation 7 Series, BMW has used its new flagship to debut gesture control, which allows drivers to control infotainment functions like audio volume or phone calls with just a wave of their hand.
Gesture control is something that manufacturers like Volkswagen have toyed with in their concepts, but BMW is one of the first to integrate it into its production models.
BMW is also offering buyers a raft of high-end customization options. All of the buttons on the center console are framed by aluminum or wood, and particular attention has been paid to improving the quality of the driver's touchpoints.
Rear passengers have been well catered for in the new 7 Series, too. An optional four-zone climate control system should eliminate any complaints from fussy rear-seat passengers, while the Executive Lounge option is perfect for cashed-up buyers who prefer to be chauffeured everywhere.
The passengers in the back are treated to a folding table, footrest, massage seats with three levels of intensity and an animated in-seat training program. BMW has included a removable 7-inch Touch Command tablet to control the functions and programs, which works inside and outside the car.
Fans of James Bond will be particularly excited to know that the new 7 Series can now be parked by remote control. Not content with auto-reverse parking or parking sensors, BMW's new 7 Series lets owners get out of their cars and press a button on their key, resulting in the car driving itself straight into (or reverse straight out of) the spot.
To stop the 7 Series being turned into a giant, expensive remote control car, BMW's system will only allow it to move a few meters out of the spot before the driver has to jump in and take control.
The new 7 Series is also loaded to the gills with features designed to make the driver's life safer and easier. BMW's optional adaptive LED headlamps mold the beam around oncoming traffic, and works in tandem with the Night Vision system to spotlight any objects that may be hidden. Night Vision also shows an image of heat-radiating objects on an in-dash display. i8-like anti-dazzle laser lights are also available.
The 7 Series range kicks off with the all-wheel drive 730d xDrive, which produces 195 kW (265 hp) and 620 Nm (457 lb.ft) of torque – enough to propel the 5.1-meter long (16.7 ft) luxury barge to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 6.1 seconds. If you prefer your BMWs with a petrol engine, the range starts with the 740i, which hits 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds thanks to its 240 kW (326 hp) and 450 Nm (332 lb.ft).
For those in search of a more economical option, BMW has continued the expansion of its hybrid range with the 740e plug-in hybrid. Despite its impressive 240 kW (326 hp) of power, the 7 Series hybrid will return a scarcely believable 2.1 l/100km (135 mpg) on the combined cycle. With a claimed maximum range of 40 km (25 miles) in pure electric mode, the 7 Series' range is 10 km (6 miles) more than the Mercedes S500 Plug In hybrid.
The most powerful option in the 7 Series range will be the V8 750i, which is putting out 330 kW (450 hp) and 650 Nm (479 lb.ft).
All 7 Series' will be built at BMW's plant in Dingolfing. Each 7 Series model is available in regular or, more expensive, long-wheelbase versions. BMW is yet to release details about pricing.
You can see BMW's official launch film below.
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