New BMW 7 Series luxury liner docks in SA
Share this article:
By: IOL Motoring Staff
Midrand - More than almost any other class of car, building a luxury sedan is a juggling act.
In the old days when petrol was cheap and neither trees nor bunnies needed hugging, you piled on the luxury with full-hide leather, deep pile carpets and solid chunks of timber, built it strong and used a big, lazy engine to lug it around.
In 2016, however, that won't fly; even plutocrats nowadays often drive themselves, so ultra-luxury sedans must be pleasant to drive, light on fuel, and connected to the universe in ways that the old-school coachbuilders would have been unable to imagine.
Which leads us to the sixth-generation BMW 7 Series, released in South Africa this week in a four-model range, with a level of luxury that would have earned a nod of approval from those craftsmen.
But what's more important is that they use sports-car technology to lose weight. Each model is about 130kg lighter than the one it replaces, thanks to intelligent use of high-strength steel, aluminium and structural carbon-fibre.
And up the sharp end you'll find either one of BMW's signature three-litre straight sixes or a 4.4-litre V8, each sporting at least one turbocharger and driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission.
The 2993cc turbodiesel in the 730d cranks out 195kW at 4000 revs, backed by a muscular 620Nm from 2000-2500rpm. BMW quotes 0-100 in 6.1 seconds, 250km/h flat out and nominal fuel-consumption (under laboratory conditions) of five litres per 100km.
The 740i, despite its nomenclature, is blessed with the Blue Propeller's iconic three-litre petrol six, fed by a twin-scroll turbo and delivering 240kW from 5500-6500 revs, with 450Nm available from 1380-5000rpm, taking it from standstill to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds, and on to a (limited) 250km/h, all at a nominal cost of 6.6 litres per 100km.
But the Daddy Warbucks of this crew is the 750i - available in either standard-length or long-wheelbase Li format - with a 4395cc twin-turbo petrol V8 that churns out 450kW from 5500-6000 revs and 650Nm from 1800-4500rpm.
Zero to 100km/h takes all of 4.7 seconds, V-max is held to 250km/h and it depletes the world's fossil-fual reserves at the rate of 7.9 litres per 100km (eight for the long-wheelbase Li) under laboratory conditions.
STANDARD AIR SUSPENSION
The new Seven rolls on standard air suspension front and rear, with automatic levelling, dynamic damper control and electromechanical anti-roll bars to reduce body roll in fast cornering, while the adaptive damping smoothes out the bumps and ruts of 21st century motoring.
Available for the first time is a data-based predictive function that combines input from the navigation system, the driver's inputs and front cameras to anticipate sudden bumps and sharp turns, softening the damping, one wheel at a time, to soak up the former and stiffening the damping on the outside wheels to compensate for the latter.
'Drive mode' was simply not snooty enough for this car, so a new 'Driving Experience Control' switch lets you chose between Comfort, Sport, Eco Pro and Adaptive modes.
Also available as an option is integral active steering, which turns the rear wheels in ether the same direction as the front for tighter turns around town or in the opposite direction for smoother lane changes and turn-in at highway speeds.
Standard kit includes full-LED headlights with dazzle free selective beam laser lights, as seen on the i8, as an optional extra.
Also available to order from March 2016 for delivery in mid-year, for the first time on a production car, is remote-control parking in garages and end-on parking bays with nobody at the wheel, using a special 'display' key - although BMW insists that you stand by to keep an eye out for obstacles.
The iDrive display has been extended to include both touch and programmable gesture control for the first time, and there's a cellphone holder in the centre console with a built-in inductive charging pad.
Lane control and active side collision assistance are now standard, as are rear collision prevention and crossing traffic. The Traffic Jam function, meanwhile, which maintains a safe distance to the car in front, can now be used on any type of road, while a new, switchable, function on the active cruise control reads speed-limit signs and adjusts the cruise control setting to keep you legal.
The two rear passengers are cosseted in individual seats with their own climate control and inductive-charging smartphone holder.
The Executive lounge option, however, takes it up several notches with four-zone climate control, active seat ventilation, massage function with vitality programme, a luxury rear console with fold-out table, additional cup holders, and (on long-wheelbase models only) a seven inch removable tablet that controls the infotainment and comfort functions and can be used to play back external audio and video files, as a games console or to surf the internet.
Further options include a panoramic glass roof that becomes a starry sky at night, an air ioniser that generates a selection of eight aromas and a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system specifically tuned to the interior of the new 7 Series.
730d - R1 366 629
740i - R1 342 488
750i - R1 761 566
750Li - R1 900 374IOL