BMW back to its best

The 7-Se­ries is a driver’s de­light, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

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.

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