Stay in downtown Manhattan, check. Use a chopper for commute, check. Enjoy a day driving at a private race track. Check. The new BMW 7 series’ first drive experience was exactly like living the life of a premium luxury car owner. The hotel and chopper acted as spoilers as we got set to get behind the wheels of the all new 6th generation BMW 7 series at the lovely Monticello racetrack on the outskirts of New York. We were there to test the German car makers’ claims that this new 7 is an improvement on design, features as well as drivability. The new S-class from Mercedes has set the benchmark very high, and even though BMW may be the highest selling luxury car maker in the world in India, this new car will have a tough act to follow.
In terms of design, the changes when compared to the predecessor are minimal but significant. From the front as well as the rear, there are some features that make this one distinct. The signature kidney grille is now bigger and it’s not just eye-catching, but functional as well. Depending on the temperature, the clovers on the grille open and close to improve airflow to the radiator. The attractive chrome bar on the profile stretches all the way up to the front and also houses the air curtain. Another highlight on this new 7 series is the laser headlamps that come as an option. But what has really created magic is the use of carbon fibre that has both reduced the weight of the car and also taken the centre of gravity further down. Th einspiration has come from BMW electric cars the i3and i8.
The car is big on features as well as comfort. Unlike earlier, the controls are simple to use, and not so heavy on design. The Nappa leather seats are as luxurious as it can get and wood on the dash gives a premium feel. The dashboard itself is new and so is the next generation idrive system that can be now used with more Smartphone-like features such as pinch and swipe. Buttons that look metallic are indeed metallic which means they will be cool on cold days and warm on hot days. The Bowers and Wilkins sound system rounds off an extremely premium cabin. BMW has come up with something called gesture control that enables the occupants to control various functions merely by using hand signals. These include answering or rejecting phone calls and changing stations merely by swiping or waving your hand. There is also a customized gesture control for your liking. There’s also a wireless charging socket that charges only Android phones. Eight different perfume options give you a fresh ambience when you enter the car. And then there’s the dynamic lighting according to one’s liking.
The luxury rear seating pack adds heated and ventilated seats in the back, as well as heated armrests, an eight-program massage function with three intensity levels. In addition to this, the footrest comes out from behind the front seat, a tray table is pulled out from inside the rear armrest and the rear seat reclines by around 45˚after which you almost forget you’re sitting inside a car, and instead spend some quality time in a business class seat of a luxury airline. There’s also the BMW vitality program with a series of seat exercises that help you stay more agile on long trips. This is the long wheelbase version that will make its way to India. It is an inch longer that before and translated into a more generous interior space on the car.
One of its most startling features is that the driver of the car can use the key to parallel park the car by itself. After that, the ignition is switched off automatically. When the time comes to leave, the car again pulls itself out seamlessly. The key can be used for many such things on the new including checking fuel levels and service requirements; it’s one of the better utilities the new 7 series comes with.
One of its most startling features is that the driver of the car can use the key to parallel park the car by itself. After that, the ignition is switched off automatically. When the time comes to leave, the car again pulls itself out seamlessly.
A race track for a luxurious long wheelbase car? Were BMW sure of what they were doing? Well they are not the largest premium car maker for nothing, and we got to know that once we hit this private racetrack. Most of the six-and-a-half kilometer long racetrack was available for testing and that gave us ample opportunities to understand the driving dynamics on the car. The sport mode is apt for hard driving where the air suspension is dropped by 10 mm and makes it stiffer. Taking corners at high speeds was a breeze in this beamer.
The 750i M sport that we were driving comes with a very capable all wheel drive system. Those 445 horses make the car pure joy to drive, a definitive word for the Bavarian car maker. The other luxurious feature rich X idrive package makes sure that this is actually two cars wrapped into one.
A drive on the coutryside enforces the belief that the 7 series is a car that’s made for the passengers more than ever before. The comfort mode comes in handy here and even though we didn’t really have any bad roads here, the small bumps we were approaching while driving weren’t really felt on this car.
Ride & Handling
There are different driving modes here. Apart from Comfort and Eco pro there’s adaptive suspension setting that adjusts the suspension according to the roads youre approaching. This is done with the help of satellite data. It also adjusts the settings based on the past driving styles of the driver. The suspension has received air springs at both the axles that are adjustable with both the shock absorbers. In addition to this active cruise control the car is loaded with loads of features that are there to make your 7 series experience as safe as possible. These include collision warning, blind spot monitoring, active steering assist and speed
The flagship premium sedan segment in India has had a clear leader in the last 12 months. This new generation 7 series is coming with the entire armory to take on the might of the Mercedes S Class. The big question is in a segment where most buyers take the rear seat and want utmost comfort will this new BMW flagship be able to win the hearts of these cash rich souls. It certainly did ours.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars.