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Future models - BMW - 7 Series

BMW details all-new 7 Series

Switched on: In its sixth-generation, the BMW 7 Series is being offered for the first time as a plug-in hybrid, borrowing electrifying technology from its i8 and i3 siblings.

Next-gen 7 Series uses carbon-fibre Core to shed 130kg from BMW's flagship

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BMW logo11 Jun 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

BMW's lightweight EfficientDynamics carbon-fibre technology is cascading down from its advanced 'i'-car range to higher-volume models, allowing the all-new sixth-generation 7 Series to drop 130kg over the outgoing version.

The composite material replaces previously metallic structural members in the roof, A- and C-pillars, parcel shelf and the transmission tunnel to create a strong and safe passenger cell, while reducing the vehicle's overall weight.

With a lower centre of gravity, BMW says its large luxury sedan has improved handling with uncompromised Carbon Core passenger compartment protection, while a range of new engines combine with the weight reduction for greater fuel efficiency.

Headlining the new powertrain line-up is more i-car technology with a plug-in hybrid system available for the first time in a BMW 7 Series.

The 740e matches a 190kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 70kW electric motor for a combined output of 240kW and a hearty 650Nm of torque, allowing the hybrid to hit 100km from standstill in about 5.5 seconds.

Under electric-only power, the 740e has a top speed of 120km/h and a maximum range of 40km drawing charge from its lithium-ion battery, and when the eDrive system is in hybrid mode, fuel consumption can be as low as 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres.

With impressive levels of equipment and a some segment-first technology, the 7 Series will go up against its natural rivals, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Audi A8, but BMW Group Australia corporate communications manager Lenore Fletcher would not specifically name targets.

“We don't comment on our competitors but what we do try to do is put our best foot forward with all of our products,” she said.

“The 7 Series is the showcase of the technology and innovation that BMW currently can bring to the market and, as the halo vehicle of the brand, we will be looking to include as much of that innovation as we can.” Ms Fletcher confirmed that the sixth-generation 7 Series would make its Australian debut in the fourth quarter of this year, shortly after the global launch.

In the official release, no mention is made of a replacement V12-powered variant, and for now the 750i represents the performance hero of the new 7 Series range, with a 330kW/650Nm 4.4-litre turbocharged V8.

Fuel consumption for the V8 has been reduced from 8.6L/100km to as low as 8.1L/100km depending on the variant, thanks to a increased compression ratio and revisions to the twin-turbo layout and manifolds.

Two 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo engines are offered with a 240kW/450Nm petrol unit under the bonnet of the 740i and a 195kW/620Nm diesel powering the 730d. Both engines now produce an extra 5kW over their outgoing equivalents, but have cut fuel use by as much as 0.8L/100km for the diesel and 1.3L/100km for the petrol.

In Europe, all variants will be offered with a long-wheelbase option, all but the 740i have the option of BMW's xDrive all-paw transmission, while the top-performing 750i is only available with four wheel drive.

Exact model designation is still under consideration for the Australian line-up, but historically, only the range of X-model SUVs have been offered here with the traction-boosting transmission, and all-wheel drive 7 Series variants are unlikely here.

All versions send power through an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with wider ratios and reduced internal losses for better fuel consumption, while operation is further enhanced by environmental information from the satellite navigation system.

The transmission also incorporates gear-shift paddles on the steering wheel and a launch-control function for maximum acceleration from a standstill.

In width, the new 7 Series is unchanged at 1902mm but length has grown by 19mm to 5098mm (5238mm for long wheelbase), while height is up by 7mm to 1478mm (1485mm LWB) making the sixth-generation 7 Series is the largest car BMW has produced to date.

The BMW luxury limousine has become synonymous with the company's latest innovations and technology, and the 2016 7 Series is no exception, bringing a range of comfort and convenience equipment not seen from the German car-maker.

Its Driving Experience Control has previously featured on other models, but for the new 7 Series, an extra Adaptive mode has been added, which uses traffic and terrain information to plan the quickest and most fuel-efficient route.

Dynamic Damper Control alters the height of the all-round air suspension, allowing a constant ride angle with differing loads and gradient. Ride height can be raised 20mm for negotiating rough surfaces or steep angles, while a Sport mode drops the suspension 10mm.

All versions, except the 740e, also benefit from the new Executive Drive Pro system, which continually alters the suspension settings according to information received from the forward-facing camera, navigation and chassis sensors.

BMW's iDrive information and entertainment system was first introduced with the E65 7 series, two generations ago, and for the latest iteration, a touchscreen and gesture control has been included.

A 3D sensor recognises the hand gestures of occupants to control various features in the system such as volume, display options or phone call management.

An 8.8-inch instrument cluster is standard fare but it can be upgraded to an optional 12.3 inch version, with variable display which provides different information depending on the Driving Experience Control mode.

A more traditional four-dial display accompanies Comfort mode, An EfficientDynamics gauge is displayed in Eco Pro mode, while the Sport setting displays just the selected gear, vehicle and engine speed.

Depending on the variant, the new 7 Series introduces a wide range of climate control options including heated door armrests, steering wheel, cooled and heated seats in both rows, with separate touch sensitive control panel for the rear passengers.

Comfort for all occupants is further enhanced with electrical seat adjustment and a massage function, while the optional rear-seat entertainment screens offer a Vitality Program active training exercise routine for long journeys.

Executive Lounge seats allow the rear passengers to recline to 42.5 degrees with an unobstructed view forward by folding the front seat out of the way, and comfort is enhanced with a folding foot rest and fold-out table.

The cabin air can also be freshened with an optional interior automatic ionising fragrance dispenser and an inductive charger allows mobile phones to be charged without cables or connections.

BMW's Touch Command allows users to control vehicle comfort and entertainment systems via a cordless 7.0-inch tablet from anywhere inside the car or even nearby outside.

The screen can also be used to play games or music, whilst providing internet access via the 7 Series' moblie WiFi hotspot capability.

A Light Carpet welcomes passengers at night with a pool of light emanating from the car's sills, and once inside the lighting tricks continue with colour-changing ambient illumination.

7 Series customers have the choice of either a standard sunroof or a Sky Lounge panoramic glass version, which incorporates more colour-changing LED lights to create a starlight sky effect.

For those wanting the best on-board audio experience, an optional top-shelf Bowers and Wilkins Diamond 1400-watt sound system is available, featuring a 10-channel amplifier and 16 illuminated speakers.

Remote Control Parking is another first for the BMW 7 Series and the autonomous technology allows the vehicle to maneuver in and out of parking spaces without anyone inside the vehicle.

The driver activates the optional system remotely with the Display Key, which also displays vehicle information such as range with its full colour screen.

Its various sensors necessary for autonomous parking also provide the hardware for active cruise control with Stop & Go, city braking, lane keep and departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and rear collision protection, which tightens the seatbelts and closes the windows if an imminent rear collision is detected.

While many manufacturers have introduced speed-limit sign recognition, BMW says it is the first to send the speed and location information to a central server for the most up to date information database.

A night vision camera completes the catalogue of driver assistance kit which detects heat emitting objects at night and displays them on the Control Display, while the adaptive LED headlights aim to highlight the object.

For the ultimate in illumination, the LEDs can be swapped out for BMW's Laserlight headlights which have a 600 meter effective range, but incorporate an anti-dazzle Selective Beam assistant.

Interiors are upholstered in the highest grade materials says BMW, with hand-woven piping and quilting of the Merino and Tartufo leather. Individual door capping and sill trims complete the look with leather and wood trims.

Despite housing a hybrid system battery under the rear seats, the 740e still manages a 420 litre boot with load-through seats, while all other variants have 515 litre luggage capacity. The bootlid can be opened by waving a foot under the rear bumper.

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