1. THE ENGINE
The new engine for the 2016 BMW 7 Series, code named B58, is part of a new BMW engine family. The three Cylinder (B38) & four cylinder (B48) are used in the new Mini Copper models, while the B58 is exclusive for the BMW 7 series. The engine comes in a few variants, depending on which version of the 7 Series you purchase.
The 740i comes equipped with a turbocharged inline 6 that produces 320hp, the 750i is powered by a 445hp V-8, and the 760Li has a 545hp V-12 under the hood. There will also be 2 diesel models (a 265hp version and a 320hp version), and a plug in hybrid, powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinder and a 90-kilowatt electric motor. The hybrid model, dubbed 740e xDrive, will be able to travel 23 miles on just the electric motor at up to 75mph.
2. THE SUSPENSION
The suspension of the new 7 Series will come standard with air springs and adaptive dampners, giving a much smoother and stable ride. There will also be an optional electromagnetic anti-roll bar adjustment, which can change the level of body roll resistance by decoupling the anti-roll bars.
The 7 Series will also have stereoscopic cameras installed at the top of the windshield to detect large objects in the road such as speed bumps, and will signal the car to soften the adaptive dampers, lessening the shock taken when driving over them. Compared to the current model, the new 7 Series has perfect weight distribution; with a center of gravity that sits lower to the ground, giving a much tighter, smoother ride.
3. WEIGHT REDUCTION
BMW has put in the effort to lighten the weight of the new 7 Series without compromising the vehicle’s structural integrity. Some of the plastic parts are a lightweight carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, made here in the states and then shipped to Germany for final assembly.
The parts made of the reinforced plastic include roof cross-members, reinforcement tubes that run the length of the roof rails, and the parcel shelf. The body itself is roughly 90 pounds lighter than previous models, and should weigh around 285 pounds less than the current model with all parts installed. The braking system will use aluminium hats on the steel brake discs, four piston calipers, and smaller wheel hubs and suspension knuckles. This reduces unsprung weight by 15% over the outgoing car.
4. ADAPTIVE DRIVING MODE UPDATE
The adaptive driving mode predicts which of the three vehicle settings will be used, based on how the car is being driven, using information from it’s navigation system to proactively switch between modes. The three settings ( Comfort, Comfort Plus, and Sport) are useful in different settings. The Sport mode will firm up the dampers and sharpen the throttle response, giving (as the name says) a sports car feel.
The Comfort mode will soften the ride and reduce throttle response, giving the luxury car feel when driving. Comfort Plus will sit in between the two modes, giving a best of both worlds feel. Missing from the driving modes is the Sport Plus, which was a more aggressive mode found in previous BMW models.
5. NEW KEY FOB
The new key fob comes equipped with a color touchscreen which allows owners to remotely drive the vehicle forward into a narrow parking space, and then reverse it out. You won’t be able to use it to back into a space though, only forward. This feature will currently not be available in the United States, as laws require that the brake pedal be depressed before the car can shift out of park.
BMW is petitioning for some kind of workaround that will allow remote parking in the States. While it is a novel idea, and would make parking in tight spots easier, it makes sense that the U.S. doesn’t allow such technology yet. One glitch in the machine and suddenly you have a runaway car, or an accident in a parking lot.
6. NEW FEATURES TO IDRIVE
The new 7 Series will come equipped with the new version of BMW’s iDrive interface. The new version will have a touchscreen that responds to touch on the dash-mounted display, as well as having the standard rotary controller on the center console. The screen will also allow you to control the air vent settings or activate the heated seats; although you still need to use the knobs on the dash to adjust temperature.
Wireless charging for smartphones is available in the center console as well and the Bluetooth system has a second microphone, allowing passengers to take part in phone calls. All the features BMW owners are used to having with the iDrive interface will still be available, so you won’t feel lost when trying to learn the new system.
7. GESTURE CONTROLLED RADIO
In the new 7 Series, you can also use gestures to control the infotainment system. Using a small infrared camera mounted near the map light, the system will monitor hand movements by the shifter.
Rotate your finger to adjust audio volume, answer phone calls through the Bluetooth system by pointing at the screen, decline them by waving your hand to the right, navigate home by pointing 2 fingers at the screen in a peace sign fashion. Not only do you get to enjoy the perks of hands-free, but you get to do it like a Jedi Knight. Of course, you will be able to perform all these tasks without wiggling your fingers, so should you not want to pretend you’re magical you can just turn a knob.
8. ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL
The adaptive cruise control system uses information from the navigation system and cameras that read traffic signs to adjust speeds accordingly. The system can be programmed to drive up to 10 mph over the posted speed limit. The 7 Series also has a self-steering system that can keep the vehicle centered in the lane at speeds up to 130mph, and can prevent you from leaving the lane if it detects there is a vehicle in your blind spot. Radar scanners at the front of the vehicle constantly scan the road ahead.
As the vehicle approaches a slower vehicle, the Adaptive Cruise Control system will automatically reduce vehicle power and gently apply the brakes. The safe distance is set at a certain number of seconds, rather than meters or feet, so a safe reaction time is always maintained. Around corners the system uses data from the stability control system to decide if the speeds need to be adjusted. If sudden deceleration is required a warning sound and a visual message alert the driver.
9. THE TRANSMISSION
The only transmission available for the 7 Series is BMW’s 8-speed steptronic automatic transmission. The transmission has smooth gradations of the gears which allow optimal power development from low to high speeds, drastically reducing fuel consumption while at the same time maintaining sportiness. The extra gears reduce the number of revolutions at high speeds, resulting in less engine noise and consumption.
The 8 speed transmission is the first transmission with auto start stop function, saving fuel while driving and in stop and go traffic. With a newly developed converter clutch, shifting is more precise and comfortable, with greatly reduced background noise.
The gearshift controller takes into account current driving style, whether it’s winter or summer, a trailer is being towed, or if the road is at sea level or in the mountains. It also notes the speed and position of the accelerator, should the driver press the pedal past a certain threshold a kick-down switch changes gears for optimal acceleration.
10. THE PRICE
Currently BMW plans to sell only the long wheelbase version of the 7 Series in the U.S., mimicking the decision made my Mercedes to not bring their standard wheelbase S-Class.
The new 7 Series will be roughly 1 inch longer than the current model. BMW plans to start production in Germany late this summer and will debut the 7 Series at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. The first models should reach U.S. shores by the Fall. Pricing for the 740i is expected to start at $82,250, while the 750i xDrive will cost $98,350. While the price isn’t exactly on the low end of the spectrum, when it comes to BMW you are getting exactly what you pay for. At first look the new 7 Series looks like it’s worth every penny.