Ask an Auto manufacturer and they’ll say it is probably the hardest to make a flagship vehicle even more appealing. To give it a fresh design, to make it more fun to drive and to load it with more features every few years is quite a task. German luxury car maker BMW has been doing exactly that with their luxury benchmark the 7 series for the last four decades. The 6th generation of the sedan recently got a mid-life facelift that has now been brought to the Indian market. The company says the new 7 series portrays the unique strengths of “x”, “m” and “i” sub-brands. “Xdrive” means all that luxury can take on the difficult terrains with an all-wheel drive while “m performance” means the car reaches new peaks of power and speed. And then there’s “iperformance” leading the way to a sustainable future. For the first time the 7 series is also available in a plug-in-hybrid option in India.
Design & Features
The biggest distinction when compared to the earlier car is the enlarged double kidney grille which has been a big talking point. The slender headlight gets adaptive LEDs with laser light technology that adds to the commanding look. Number of lines though has gone down and that makes the car look a little less sporty. But the coupé-like roof line and chrome trim at the bottom make up for that quite well.
A car like the 7 is all about how it is from inside. Space is really generous and bespoke leather upholstery along with ambient lighting and panoramic glass roof sky lounge with LED light graphics create the great ambience. The rear seats where almost all owners will sit get a long feature list. It starts with four-zone automatic climate control, massager, seat ventilation and refuses to end as features galore. These include two 10.2-inch full-hd touch displays with a blu-ray player. The 7-inch tablet with touch function, which is integrated into the centre armrest and connected to the vehicle systems, can also be used outside the vehicle.
Usual suspects like gesture control, display key, wireless charging and remote control parking are all there. The cockpit includes 3D navigation, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display behind the steering wheel and a 10.25-inch control display. The Harman Kardon surround sound system is there along with the option of putting Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system.
In all there are 3 diesel, 2 petrol and 1 plug in hybrid variants on offer. In the hybrid the electric drive is powered by a lithium-ion battery producing 108 hp and a maximum torque of 265 Nm. In addition a 3.0 litre, 6-cylinder petrol engine produces 286 hp and 450 Nm. So together what you get is 384 hp, 600 Nm and up to 39.5 kmpl. 0-100 kmph in achieved in 5.3 seconds with a top speed of up to 250 kmph. Running on battery power alone, the car achieves a top speed of 140 kmph with a drive range of 53 kms. Charging time ranges from 4-12 hours depending on the supply and charger. The 3.0 litre, 6-cylinder diesel produces 265 hp and 620 nm while the 3.0 litre, six-cylinder petrol churns out 340 hp and 450 Nm. Finally the massive 6.0 litre, 12-cylinder M performance petrol engine produces a whopping 609 hp and 850 Nm and accelerates from 0-100 kmph in just 3.8 seconds. The car gets an 8-speed automatic transmission and features auto start-stop, Eco Pro mode, brake-energy regeneration, electronic power steering and a driving experience control switch.
Ride & handling
According to BMW the all-wheel-drive system monitors the driving situation constantly and is quick to respond. The dynamic damper control improves ride quality and suspension by stabilizing all irregularities of the surface. The car also gets an adaptive 2-axle air suspension that enables raising and lowering of vehicle at the touch of button and automatically adjusts the height of the car to suit any given driving situation. In terms of safety the car gets 6 airbags, attentiveness assistance, dynamic stability control including cornering brake control, dynamic traction control, electric parking brake with auto hold, side-impact protection, electronic vehicle immobilizer and crash sensor, isofix child seat mounting and integrated emergency spare wheel under the load floor.
Prices of the new 7 stay approximately the same. The 3 diesel variants are the most affordable with 730Ld design pure excellence starting at Rs 1.22 crore (ex-showroom). The signature costs around Rs. 10 lakh more and the 730Ld M sport is priced at Rs. 1.34 crore. That is also the cost of 740Li design pure excellence and these 4 trims are locally produced. The two remaining are imported with the plug in hybrid costing Rs 1.65 crore while the range topping M760Li xdrive will set you back by Rs 2.42 crore (ex-showroom).
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars