Munich: With its two-tier headlight layout featuring ‘gremlin’ lower lamps that remind us of the pre-facelift Jeep Cherokee, it’s quite possible that this will be the most controversial BMW 7 Series since the E65 fourth-generation model of 2001. You can breathe now, Chris Bangle.
But with styling being very much a subjective thing, we’ll leave you to stew on its looks because the rest of the car is technologically very impressive. And we mean very impressive.
But perhaps the biggest departure is that for the first time ever BMW’s flagship sedan will be offered with a choice of internal combustion and all-electric drivetrains and these options will differ depending on the market. South African buyers, for instance, will initially only be able to opt for the 740i petrol model or the battery-powered i7 xDrive60.
The new BMW 740i is powered by a six-cylinder turbopetrol engine with 48V mild hybrid technology and outputs of 280kW and 520Nm.
Those seeking more power will have to go all-electric, with the i7 xDrive60 twin-motor all-wheel drive model offering 400kW and 745Nm for a 4.7-second 0-100km/h sprint time. BMW reckons the i7 is good for a range of between 590 and 625km, as per the WLTP test cycle.
There are a number of other engine derivatives offered internationally, including a six-cylinder turbopetrol 735i with 210kW and a V8-powered 760i xDrive that’s good for 400kW. Six-cylinder diesel and plug-in hybrid petrol models are set to follow in 2023.
You might have noticed that none of the variants are badged ‘Li’ any more, and that’s because BMW is no longer offering a standard-wheelbase 7 Series, all models now have LWB status which means the back of the cabin is the place you really want to be.
Those lucky enough to be there will get to enjoy a fold-down 31-inch (78.7cm) BMW Theatre Screen with ultra-HD quality and 5G connectivity. BMW says this is best enjoyed with the optional 36-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System.
Passengers can control the media systems through 5.5-inch touch-controlled displays built into the rear door panels. All this while relaxing in the comfort of Executive Lounge rear seats with “significantly improved” reclining position and a gap-free leg rest on the passenger side.
As if the atmosphere inside was not already futuristic, BMW has added a Sky Lounge panoramic glass sunroof with LED light threads that create patterns.
Those in the front will get to enjoy the new-generation BMW iDrive system that promises a multi-sensory experience. Powered by the BMW Operating System 8, it features a curved display and there’s also an Augmented View function available on the information display behind the steering wheel.
BMW has cut back on the number of traditional buttons and switches in the cabin, and there’s a new ‘Interaction Bar’ that runs across the dashboard and into the door panels, combining climate control functions with interior lighting, decoration and invisible air vents. BMW is also offering automatically opening and closing doors as an option in the new 7 Series - and this function will eventually be voice controlled too.
Take a look at some of the cabin highlights in the video below:
To offer an even more personalised driving experience, the new My Modes function offers up to seven individual settings in which users can adjust everything from powertrain and chassis modes to iDrive display settings, interior lighting and more.
Of course, you could also choose to leave everything up to the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which comes with additional skills.
As before, models fitted with the Driving Assistant Professional can provide semi-automated driving assistance at speeds of up to 210km/h. In North American markets, the Steering and Lane Control Assistant will allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel completely on structurally separated carriageways at speeds of up to 130km/h.
Technologically what we’ve mentioned so far is just the tip of the iceberg and it will be interesting to see how many of these new features trickle down to smaller BMW models in the coming years.