BMW back to its best
The 7-Series is a driver’s delight, writes PAUL GOVER
IT FEELS good to be behind the wheel of the new BMW 7-Series. It’s a car to drive and enjoy, as well as a technology flagship and styling pacesetter.
A lot of what was lost or misplaced in the previous Seven — a brutal battleship on many fronts— has come back and that is good news. The styling, too, has been pulled back from confrontational to make-a-statement bold.
‘‘This is the very best of BMW. This embodies the flagship of the business,’’ BMW global sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson says.
That means it is packed with technology and engineering, from the first double-wishbone front suspension in a Seven to a user-friendly upgrade of the lacklustre iDrive system, and new safety systems including one that can read speed signs and update the driver.
It is also a little lighter yet is just as big and quick. Updated petrol and diesel engines range from an in-line diesel six, which should become the Australian favourite next year, to the twin-turbo V8 that is already a hit in the X6.
The best news for top-end shoppers is that the focus has returned to the driver’s seat, after an experiment with a car that was more enjoyable as a chauffeured ride.
The dash is now wrapped around the driver and the gear selector is back in the centre console.
All the changes reflect a return to the basics that made the Seven so good from the late 1970s, even if there is no admission of any mistakes with the previous car.
‘‘The predecessor was not without controversy. Nevertheless, it made a statement,’’ Robertson says.
And you cannot call it a failure because it sold in record numbers.
But a lot of people will welcome the new Seven, which will arrive in Australia in March with a starting price a little below $200,000. It will be available for the first time with short and long-wheelbase bodies from the start, and an 240kW in-line six for the 740 and 300kW V8 for the 750.
Final specifications are still being set, but it is fair to expect the usual combination of airconditioning and premium sound and alloys in the short-wheelbase car, and electric rear seats and a DVD entertainment package in the iL cars.
But no one knows yet about the availability of the new four-wheel steering system for the Seven, or the infra-red night vision, or the lanedeparture warning or . . .
Mechanically, BMW makes the usual claims for a new car — more power and torque for less fuel and emissions. But it has its commitment to Efficient Dynamics and the results are impressive.
‘‘The 7-Series has always been a technological spearhead with ultimate comfort and elegance,’’ chief engineer Johann Kistler says.
The 740’s six has 6.7 per cent more power with an 11.6 per cent cut in fuel consumption, down to 9.9 litres for 100km, and CO2 is cut 13.1 per cent to 232g/km.
The V8 in the 750 has 11 per cent more power, is line-ball on economy and is down a little on C02, to 266g/km.
Styling pacesetter: the new 7-Series has a dynamic and elegant body design and bigger kidneyshaped nose grilles.
Intelligent interior: the dash wraps around the driver and the gear lever is back where it belongs.