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Facelifted BMW 7 Series here soon

Leccy limo: The hybrid BMW 7 Series can travel for up to four kilometres on electricity alone.

Mid-life update to BMW’s 7 Series limo to arrive here just weeks after global launch


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23 Jul 2012

BMW Australia is on countdown to the showroom arrival of its facelifted 7 Series following the big limousine’s global launch this week, just a couple of months before going on sale here in October.

It will also become the Bavarian luxury brand’s third model to be offered with a hybrid variant during the first quarter of next year as the previous left-hand-drive-only V8-based petrol-electric system has been replaced with one built around a turbocharged straight-six.

Not on the agenda for Australia is the new all-wheel-drive 750d variant – powered by the same triple-turbo straight-six diesel engine as the recently launched hot M50d variants of BMW’s X5 and X6 SUVs – because, like the equivalent 5 Series, it is not built in right-hand drive.

BMW Group Australia head of corporate communications Piers Scott told GoAuto that, with the exception of the new hybrid, the local line-up of four engines on the 7 Series will remain the same and no “substantial uplift” in pricing is expected.

Subtle styling tweaks hide some significant technical and equipment upgrades compared with the 2009 original, including the latest iteration of BMW’s ConnectedDrive internet-enabled infotainment system, a new rear-seat entertainment pack, better ride comfort and reduced cabin noise.

Engine revisions, a move to electric power steering and eight-speed automatic transmissions across the range have improved performance while significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions by up to 25 per cent.

Eco Pro mode has also been added to the ‘Driving Experience Control’ selector on all variants except the flagship V12-powered 760Li, altering throttle and transmission response, decoupling the engine when coasting, reducing the power consumption of systems such as seat heaters, coaching the driver into an economical driving style and selecting the most efficient navigation route.

New high-tech options include a digital multi-function instrument panel and full-LED adaptive headlights.

With maximum combined power and torque outputs of 260kW and 500Nm, the powerful yet efficient petrol-electric ActiveHybrid7 produces 10kW and 50Nm more than the hybrid 3 Series and 5 Series, both of which are due to arrive in Australia this year.

Combined fuel consumption is 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres, 1.1L/100km lower than the six-cylinder 740i from which the 235kW/450Nm petrol engine is sourced, while acceleration from 0-100km/h takes an identical 5.7 seconds due to the extra weight of its Li-ion batteries and 40kW/210Nm electric motor.

The ActiveHybrid7 can drive for up to four kilometres at up to 60km/h using only the electric motor, which is sandwiched between the petrol engine and automatic transmission, and can coast at up to 160km/h with the petrol engine switched off and decoupled from the transmission.

Its satellite-navigation system can also read the topography of the planned route to predict and optimise the battery’s charge level for various scenarios, such as driving up hills, or to maximise zero-emissions driving in urban areas.

Inside the facelifted 7 Series are new seats with boosted side support and improved long-distance comfort, while additional sound insulation plus improved door and window seals make for a quieter ride.

Suspension revisions including updated joints, bushes and dampers plus self-levelling rear air suspension are designed to provide occupants with plusher ride comfort without compromising the car’s dynamics.

Further aiding refinement is the eight-speed automatic transmission, its tall top ratio enabling low engine speeds while cruising and, depending on the selected Driving Experience setting, can provide smoother gearshifts.

A new ambient lighting set-up illuminates the footwells and headlining in a range of selectable colours.

The new optional multi-function instrument cluster uses a 10.25-inch screen that replicates the standard four analogue dials and can prioritise and alter the information displayed depending on the driving situation and selected Driving Experience setting.

It can display a night vision image from the front-mounted thermal imaging camera, which identifies pedestrians, cyclists and animals before they become illuminated by the headlights.

The night-vision system can also determine whether the vehicle is on a collision course with a pedestrian and warn the driver, and use the adaptive headlights to point the beam in the hazard’s direction.

BMW’s latest ConnectedDrive system integrates the company’s latest navigation technology, with a high-powered processor and dedicated 3D graphics technology to provide improved visuals and ease of use.

Two phones can be simultaneously linked via Bluetooth, for example providing both chauffeur and passenger with hands-free calls, music streaming or internet access.

Rear-seat entertainment has been boosted with a new optional pack comprising twin slimline 9.2-inch screens designed to appear as though they are “floating” behind the front seats rather than being integrated to the head restraints.

A new 1200-watt, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio system features illuminated speaker grilles and a centre speaker that rises from the dashboard.

BMW claims the diesel-powered 730d, sold as the entry-level 7 Series in Australia, is now the cleanest in its class, with fuel consumption and CO2 emissions dropping 17 per cent to 5.6L/100km and 148 grams per kilometre.

At the same time, power has increased 10kW to 190kW and torque has jumped 20Nm to 560Nm, resulting in the 0-100km/h time dropping from 7.2 to 6.1 seconds.

The 3.0-litre petrol 740i, which tends to be the volume leader in Australia, is now 21 per cent more fuel efficient, consuming 7.9L/100km, while two-tenths have been shaved off the 0-100km/h time, bringing it down to 5.7 seconds.

Fuel consumption is down 25 per cent to 8.6L/100km for the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 750i, which has received updates to the fuel injection and valve-control systems and now produces 10 per cent more power at 330kW and 8.5 per cent more torque at 650Nm, shortening the 0-100km/h sprint by four-tenths, to 4.8 seconds.

Performance of the 400kW/750Nm twin-turbo, V12-powered 760i, sold only in long-wheelbase format here, remains the same, catapulting to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds and consuming around 13L/100km on the combined cycle.

Last year, BMW topped the segment for upper-large sedans priced above $100,000, with 50 7 Series sold compared with 34 sales for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

In the first half this year, the tables have turned in favour of Benz, which has sold 12 S-Class, while the 7 Series is line-ball with the Audi A8 and Porsche Panamera at nine units.

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