From 1978, when BMW first introduced the 7 Series, through the 2015 model year, there have been just five generations of the automaker’s flagship luxury sedan. So when BMW announced there would be a sixth for the 2016 model year, it was bound to be something special — remarkable, even — and it is.
In fact, there is so much news about the all-new 2016 BMW 7 Series that it’s hard to know where to start in describing its technological advancements. Set to arrive in the United States in the fall, the new 7 Series will remain a full-size, four-door über luxury sedan. Initially, two models will be available, the rear-wheel-drive 740i, which will carry a base price of $81,200, and the all-wheel-drive 750i xDrive at $97,400. Destination charges and handling are extra.
A high-performance M Sport package is available, while joining the lineup sometime in calendar 2016 will be the 740e xDrive plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
Now for the stuff to get technology fans’ blood pumping.
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The new 7 Series will be 190 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, thanks to the extensive use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the passenger cell and lightweight design techniques that both reduce weight and increase the overall strength and stiffness. Lighter, stronger, tougher construction lowers the center of gravity and improves handling.
BMW says this is the first time CFRP, steel and aluminum have been used together in a production automobile. The doors and trunk lid are aluminum and the weight balance of the new chassis is 50:50 front and back, again optimizing handling.
The most dramatic new technology on the new 7 Series is in the cockpit, though. BMW is introduced a breakthrough process it calls “Gesture Control,” which as the name implies allows the driver to perform certain functions with the wave of the hand. Among the functions are adjusting the radio volume, answering or rejecting phone calls or setting the navigation system to give directions home. This has the potential to be a game-changer in the luxury market.
Want more? The BMW Touch Command Tablet comes with a seven-inch screen that allows back-seat passengers to operate the infotainment, navigation and communication system, as well as adjust the seats and the interior lighting. The tablet also can play external audio and video files, surf the Internet or serve as a games console. Wireless charging is, of course, standard.
For the audiophiles in the crowd, the optional Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround-sound system provides studio-grade audio reproduction thanks to a 10-channel, 1,400-watt amplifier with no less than 16 speakers.
If you really want to go over the top, check out the optional Ambient Air package, which offers eight different scents and three levels of intensity to ionize the air and/or add interior fragrance. Good to know you won’t ever have to dash into a 7-11 for a pine-tree air freshener to hang from the rear-view mirror.
Power comes from two engines, unique to each model.
The 750i xDrive comes with a redesigned twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that produces 445 horsepower, while the 740i uses a 3.0-liter inline six that is also turbocharged and makes a respectable 320 horses. In both cases, the power is transmitted through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Another high-tech feature is something BMW calls the “Active Kidney Grille,” which has a series of bars and flaps in the lower air intake that automatically swing open when additional air is needed to cool the engine and the brakes. When it isn’t needed, they stay closed to maximize aerodynamics.
As you would expect in a top-of-the-line German luxury sedan, there an almost limitless number of options buyers can choose among to personalize their cars.
Honestly, there’s so much new and innovative in the next 7 Series that these highlights only scratch the surface of what appears at first blush to be a wholly remarkable automobile.