The new BMW 7-Series is finally upon us and at long last, it finally looks [almost] as good as it did before the E65 version, which replaced the super stylish E38. Nope, this is not a reference to food additives but rather BMW’s in-house nomenclature.
The latest version of the lengthy saloon car features a plug-in hybrid variant for the first time. This new model effectively replaces the rather undersold ActiveHybrid7, itself a hybrid albeit ‘mild’. Officially titled the BMW 740e, BMW are keeping this plug-in hybrid as part of their main brand, instead of passing it off as an evocative ‘BMW i’ machine. An i7, this is not.
If numbers and letters are your thing, then you won’t be dissapointed as BMW haven’t just stopped at the fifth alphabetical character. Added to the list are the 740Le – a long wheel based version – and 740Le xDrive – an all wheel drive variant of the long wheel base version.
Efficient Four Cylinder with Plug-in
An intriguing choice of engine has been made with the new PHEV, in the form of a four-cylinder petrol engine. Mated with its helpful electric motor friend, total power output is a healthy 326hp. Official fuel consumption figures are an average of 134.5mpg, as calculated by the EU test cycle. Naturally, this is a distorted value based on a fixed test. In reality, it could be far higher, if more reliance on electric range is made, or much lower, if the petrol unit is used and longer distances are frequent.
Electric Range & Emissions
Electric range is reported as 25 miles and in this mode a top speed of 75mph can be attained before the petrol unit kicks in. CO2 emissions are a lowly 49g/km, meaning the car will be tax free. Power is provided by lithium-ion batteries, courtesy of the developments made with both the i3 and i8.
Carbon Fibre Weight Loss
As is the usual case with BMW’s 7-Series, it has been used to showcase their latest technology. This new model is no different and features an innovative blend of a carbon-fibre core, steel and aluminium for the construction of the body. This combination of materials reduces weight by a considerable 130kg over the out-going model. Although this technology is new to the 7-Series, it is as a direct development of the BMW i cars.
Also taken from the i8 are laser high-beam headlamps, but although many a super villain might wish for them to cut their way through traffic, instead they only use lasers to excite a gas that in turn produces a pure white light to illuminate the path ahead. The effect is uncanny though and the light emitted is powerful enough to shine up to 600 metres ahead.
Remote Control Parking
If you were impressed by James Bonds 7-Series remote control in the 1997 film Tomorrow Never Dies, you’ll be pleased to learn the new 7 has a fancy trick up its sleeve – halfway towards Bond’s driving antics becoming a reality. Remote Control Parking is now possible as the 7 can be controlled by the key fob (BMW Display Key) to park in a small space without a driver inside. Picture the situation, you buy a house that has a garage, which is big enough to fit a car in, but not to open the doors – a common problem in the UK! With this new system, the driver and passengers can drive up to the front of the garage, exit the car and then tell it to park inside the garage all at the touch of a button. The same trick can be used in other forward-parking spaces, but sadly not parallel parking situations… at least not yet! BMW are quick to mention, however, that while the car is carrying out the semi-automated manoeuvre, the driver should watch out for obstacles.
The BMW 750Li xDrive, BMW 740Li, BMW 730Ld and BMW 730Ld xDrive models can be specified with the Executive Lounge option. This equipment package includes automatic air conditioning with 4-zone control, electrically adjustable comfort seats with massage function in the rear and active seat ventilation for all seats, plus the again optional Executive Lounge Seating, Executive Lounge rear console and rear-seat entertainment experience with BMW Touch Command.
The massage function now also includes the Vitality Programme, which allows rear passengers to engage in active physical exercise for recuperation purposes. The Executive Lounge Seating option increases comfort in the rear seat behind the front passenger seat, which can slide forward by an additional 90 millimetres and has an electrically extendable footrest integrated into its backrest, much like is available in Mercedes’ competing S-Class. The rear passenger can then unwind into a relaxing position, thanks to a reclining backrest that can come impressively close to horizontal if desired.
The Executive Lounge rear console houses a fold-out table, additional cupholders and the Touch Command system. This removable 7-inch tablet computer allows the user to control the infotainment and comfort functions available in the rear of the new BMW 7 Series and can also be used to play back external audio and video files, as a games console or to surf the internet.
A panoramic glass roof can also be specified, which comes complete with starry sky effect and plenty of mood lighting.
A new addition to the iDrive system’s functionality is BMW gesture control, which is being introduced for the first time. Hand movements detected by a 3D sensor can be used to control infotainment functions. The gestures can be used for a number of operations, including controlling the volume in audio applications and accepting or rejecting incoming telephone calls. There is also the option of pairing a specific gesture with an individual choice of function. Also joining the fray is a new smartphone holder integrated into the centre console, which allows wireless, inductive charging for mobile phones.