Grilling new 7 Series revealed
Controversial new face fronts BMW’s luxury flagship sedan
BMW loves the barbecue culture of South Carolina, its second home, so much that it is now slapping beef burners on the front of its cars.
In a move to bring the 7 Series into line with the upcoming X7 giant SUV, the flagship limousine scores a bunch of new technology, but few people will be able to initially go beyond the double-barbecue grill, er, grille.
BMW launched the facelift of its sixth-generation flagship at the Detroit motor show. After posting record sales in 2017 in its pursuit of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, hopes are high at BMW that the limousine will pair up with the X7 to make a class-crossing luxury front line.
There are upgrades inside as BMW moves to its latest software system, and its driver-assistance tech has also received a boost beyond its already impressive suite, which includes self-parking into garages.
It’s arriving just in time, too, with the chief competition in the segment, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, also in line for an upgrade this year.
Headlined by both its 6.6l, V12 powerplant in the 760i and the 750i’s upgraded 4.4l V8, the 7 Series has seen its performance boosted and its emissions reduced.
With a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers, the 4,395cc V8 now has 60kW more power, at 390kW. It’s torquier, too, with 750Nm available from just 1,800rpm through to 4,600rpm and though it’s limited to 250km/h, BMW insists it will hit 100km/h in 4 seconds flat.
Then there’s the V12, which only comes fitted inside the long-wheelbase version of the 7 Series and it’s only hooked up to the all-wheel drive system. It plunders 430kW and 850Nm from its 6.6l, twin-turbo capacity, which is good enough for a 3.8-second burst to 100km/h.
But there will be a fleet of other powertrains, including the plug-in hybrid 745e, 745Le and 745Le xDrive variants of the in-line turbo petrol six-cylinder 3.0l engine. BMW claims a total system power of 290kW and 600Nm.
The hybrids will reach a claimed maximum of 54km of pure electric running, with a 140km/h top speed, though that jumps to 250km/h with both motors running.
It sprints to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds (or 5.1 for the heavier xDrive long wheelbase), yet registers a WLTP claimed consumption figure of only 2.2l/100km, for 52g of CO2 emissions per kilometre.
All of the diesels share the same 3.0l, in-line, six-cylinder core, rising from the 730d’s 195kW to the 740d’s 235kW and the 750d’s thumping 294kW of power.
To make it easier, the “30” models all use a single-turbo version of the engine, the “40” motors all have two turbochargers (high pressure and low pressure) and the “50” is scary tech-rich, with four turbochargers in all.
They’re all torque-rich motors, with the base hitting at 620Nm, rising to 680Nm for the 740 versions and topping out at 760Nm in the 750d.
The unusual news for a facelift is that the body has been stretched and pulled. Both the standard and long-wheelbase versions have been pushed out by 22mm overall, with both models scoring an extra 14cm in the wheelbase.
Like its predecessor, the body structure combines high-strength steels, aluminium and some carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), which BMW claims raises the body stiffness and safety while lowering the weight.
The stock headlights have been thinned, so the grille looks even bigger, and they’re Adaptive LED units that combine variable light distribution, cornering lights and anti-dazzle. There’s a Laserlight option, too, with up to 560m of visibility on high beam.
The optional head-up display (HUD) now ties in to the equally optional thermal-imaging Night Vision system that integrates pedestrian and animal detection and feeds the display into the HUD, along with spotlighting the object.
At the rear, there are full-width lights (it’s the latest design trend out of Germany, with Volkswagen and Audi committing to it, too).
Like Audi’s A8, one of the key areas BMW worked on to match the class-leading S-Class was interior noise levels, with more use of laminated acoustic glass and shielding the rear wheel arches.
The long-wheelbase cars are not only fitted with reclining rear seats, but each front-seat headrest contains a 25cm HD screen, complete with a Blue-ray player.
Rear-seat passengers can also dive in to the car’s navigation, entertainment and online functions and the screens can be adjusted for their angle.
The Touch Command unit (fancy BMW talk for a remote control) is an 18cm tablet that can be used from any seat and even from outside the car.
It uses rear-axle steering, its air suspension feeds air to each wheel individually, and the dampers are electronically controlled and variable. There’s a Driving Experience Control to change its stiffness and it can even be raised 20mm to climb up steep driveways.
The new BMW 7 Series will be available in SA from the second quarter of this year. Only the long-wheelbase models will be offered (BMW 730Ld, BMW 745Le xDrive, BMW 750Li xDrive and BMW M760Li xDrive. Prices will be announced soon.