In the world of über executive sedans, there are 3 main players: The Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class, and BMW 7-Series. Now, the Audi A8 to me has always been the badass, hit man mobile. You know, the thing that a certain badass *Cough* Jason Staham *Cough* would whip around in, doing various badass activities because it’s his job. The S-Class has always, and will always be the symbol of success. If you roll around in a new S-Class, you’re definitely doing something right with your life…or at least doing a great job at hiding your successful extortion/drug ring.
And finally there is the 7-Series. It really isn’t portrayed as a sporty car nor is it as a big, expensive rolling symbol of success. But don’t think that 7-Series aren’t sporty or luxurious, they are just not on the same level as the Audi or Benz. You really don’t see a 7-Series being whipped around on the TV or in movies, nor do you see a 7-Series sitting outside the Waldorf Astoria. That being said, I always had a thing for the 7-Series. The steering is tad heavy, the brakes and throttle are firm. The engine note actually seeps into the cabin (sorta). There is just something about the way they drive that even the newest Mercedes or Audi can’t touch.
Today, BMW unveiled the brand new 2016 7-Series. Having been 8 years since the last new model and considering the current competition, I was expecting a dramatic change from the last generation. This is exactly what I got. The new 7-Series, codenamed the G11, is a very bold statement by BMW and boy do they mean business.
Let’s start with the numbers. The 740i (Twin-Turbo V6) starts at $81,700 and packs about 320hp and 330 lb/ft of torque. The 750i (Twin-Turbo V8) starts at $97,400 and packs 445hp and 480 lb/ft of torque. Compared the last generation, the G11 weighs around 200lb less thanks to carbon fiber chassis elements. Power is distributed via an 8-speed Steptronic transmission, which supports launch control and navigation influenced shift points. All in all, nothing to foreign when compared to the last gen 7-Series, which I do not mind.
The exterior design is well…err… a change. The laser headlights are big, as are the kidney grills. Actually, they are huge, like too big. Now, I understand that more air equates to a cleaner burn and more power, but that doesn’t mean the extra air has to come from the same source. The bigger grills open and close according to conditions, which allow for greater efficiency, power, etc. Personally, I think it’s a lazy move on the designers’ part. There are other, more creative ways to control airflow, like lower side inlets and air channels under the grill which pre-charge the air. But hey I’m just a mechanical engineering student; what do I know, right?
Apart from the front end, I think the exterior design is actually quite good. It looks like a BMW, and invokes presence without being too aggressive or shouty. The M-Sport trim option is my favorite as it gives the car a nice, low look and the 5-spoke rims are also a nice touch.
Inside, the 7-Series has definitely grown up a bit. The leather has a diamond stich pattern, which looks absolutely boss. There is metal and wood everywhere. And speaking of the wood, it actually looks like wood, and not like the plastic feeling stuff that BMW has putting in their cars. In the rear, you can opt for an executive seating package, which gives you reclining seats with a massage function, tray tables, and a personal screen.
But the real highlight of the 7-Series interior, and the entire car in general, is the tech. The new 7-Series probably has more processors, screens, touch panels, and other techy bits than say Steve Wozniak’s wettest of dreams. For example, the iDrive screen is now touch screen, and can be controlled by just using hand gestures. You can twiddle your finger to adjust the volume, raise your hand to answer you call, and lower to decline. Hell, you probably could set the laser headlights lights to blind the a-hole who cut you off when you raise your middle finger!
The instrument panel is a giant screen, which changes according to the driving mode. The center console has a built in wireless charging system for your phone (if it supports it of course) as well as for the key FOB. There are more LED lights in the interior than an EDM concert, and yes you can change the color. The climate control is controlled via small touch screens, the rear entertainment system is controlled via a tablet, and the key FOB has a freaking touch screen. You can use the key FOB to move your 7 in and out of spots, and presumably “ghost ride the whip” as the kids call it.
Now, most people would welcome all of the abundance of technology with open arms, but me not too much. Yes, controlling the car with a key FOB is cool and useful, as is using computers to take notes in a college lecture. But, I still prefer taking my notes on a notepad with my Parker pen. It’s a no bullshit experience, and I don’t have to carry around a laptop, charger, and bag. I don’t have to fight for a seat by a power outlet, not do I have to worry about running out of power. What am I trying to get? I can’t but help but feel that the tech in the new 7-Series is a bit too much and too gimmicky. The gesture controls, for example, are cool and all, but honestly how many times would you use it? And having experienced a lot of new tech heavy cars, I know first hand that the new tech features are hone to problems, and are expensive with german cars.
That being all said, has BMW done the 7-Series justice? Is it still the honest car I’ve always known it as? Well I won’t know for sure until I get behind the wheel of one, however I will say this. After I had finished reading the press kit for the new 7-Series not only way I eager to experience it in person, I was also smiling.