We check if the latest edition of the BMW flagship, the 2016 BMW 7 series, stands true to its heritage and lives up to the expectations of its fans.
I very clearly remember the first time I saw the E66; I was testing the top speed of my bike on the highway. At that moment of nirvana when I was trying to fuel my under-age adrenaline with the tiny twin spark 180 cc engine, a metallic silver E66 passed me by as if I had been standing still. Driven by a rush of anger and curiosity, I followed the car to its home and gave it a good look, noting its every detail. It was love at first sight, and the E66 became my must-drive car. I loved the E38 too, the Transporter series had made it look so cool that often I would imagine my head shaved, drifting the car on the streets of Delhi!
The F02, the last BMW 7 Series, was the first generation to change the internal alphabet code. In my opinion, it also changed a lot for its buyer audience. There was a huge improvement in the range of engines offered but I think this was the generation of the 7 Series when BMW was planning and making cars to appeal to a wider audience. I have always been a BMW fan because of the abnormal and unexpected things they do to their cars. The suspension was hard, designs elicited extreme reactions – people either loved it or hated it. The dashboards were driver centric and its gizmos were so complex they made many feel illiterate. But I loved it all. It was the complex and over the top engineering that made it stand out.
The sixth generation
With the new generation BMW 7 Series officially unveiled, it is a revelation to see where the Bavarian giant is heading with the new car. The front of the car looks very sporty for a limousine, the new active kidney grill and headlight are connected to each other, which speaks of the pattern we can expect in all the upcoming launches. From either sides, the car has air breathers behind the front wheel along with a running metallic accent on the bottom. The rear looks very understated with again a very thin line of chrome meeting both the tail lamps. Overall, the car looks in sync with the current sedan line-up, which honestly isn’t very exciting. The current 3 and 5 are a generation old and should be due for a change soon, and I don’t see any reason why anyone would be very excited with the transfer of design genes into the bigger 7 Series.
On the inside, again it feels like an evolutionary change. Guiding one inside the 2016 BMW 7 Series is the Welcome Light Carpet, which beautifully illuminates the floor. The centre of the dashboard is dominated by the 12.3 inch, 5.0 version of the new idrive, which is now touch screen and will understand hand gestures. I am not sure if the hand gesture is really required, but BMW claims it will make the car safer. There are 5 different ambient lighting and even the sunroof gets the LED ambient treatment. There is wireless charging and Wi-Fi hot spot standard in the car to improve connectivity.
The rear seats will be offered with the option of executive lounge seating, which gives extra space, reclining back rest, pop-out foot rest on the back of the front seats and fold-out table. There is also a touch screen tablet in the rear armrest to give better control of the car to the rear occupants. The music system on option is a fantastic, 1400 watt, 16 speakers, Bowers and Wilkins. This should definitely make it a cinematic experience on the wheels.
There is a lot of talk on the technology and innovation that comes with the 2016 BMW 7 Series. The company has taken weight saving to another level with extensive use of carbon fibre at critical points of the body; they like to call it carbon core, which is derived from their i sub-brand. The car weighs 190 pounds lesser than the outgoing car and maintains 50-50 weight distribution; apparently the lightest car in the segment.
The active kidney grill can close and open flaps to feed air to the engine as per the requirement. The self-leveling air suspension is standard along with dynamic damper control. This should take care of the much-needed improvement in the ride quality from the current car standards.
An intelligent, though optional, feature is the BMW Laserlight, which uses BMW Selective Beam to ensure the bright white light is dazzle-free despite offering a high-beam range of 600 m.
The head display offers up to 75% larger projection on the windscreen for more data. But the coolest feature of all is the new remote with an integrated LED screen, which gives information on the fuel level, door lock position, range left in the car etc. There is an option of parallel garage parking with the remote, but it remains to be seen whether we will get this in India or not.
The engine in the entry-level models would be the 3.0L six-cylinder diesel and petrol for the 730Ld and 740 Li. But there is a substantial improvement in the performance. The 730Ld produces 265 Ps and 620 NM of torque with a claimed 0-100 of 5.8 Seconds. The 740 Li produces 326 PS and 450 NM of torque, which gives it a very respectable 0-100 of 5.4 seconds. There should be a plug-in hybrid also on offer at a later stage. But, looking at the past record, the first variant to be launched would be the 750Li, which carries over the same 4.4 twin turbo V8, producing 450 PS and 650 NM of torque, with a sports car matching 0-100 of 4.3 seconds.
As a piece of engineering there is a lot of charisma that the 2016 BMW 7 Series carries. I wouldn’t say there is a huge leap of innovations in the car. The engines are more powerful and updated, but the last generation saw the bigger change. There are a lot of cool gizmos and additions, but the usability can only be checked with time. There is also a substantial improvement in the quality of the interiors. I have no doubt in saying that the new 7 Series would be brilliant to drive, the ride issues have been taken seriously, there is a lot of emphasis on the chassis control and dynamics. But for some reason I get the feeling that the designers were strictly put on a limited imagination mode. The first impressions failed to excite me, it looks better than the outgoing car, but I have never considered that as a good design. Mercedes did manage to make everyone notice the new S-Class, however for the 7-Series, I see only the serious drivers giving that attention.
If the 2016 BMW 7 Series has captured your attention, then view the video below for more details.