All senses are stirred by The BMW 7 Se­ries.


Esquire (Philippines) - - CONTENTS - BY JA­SON K. ANG

LUX­URY IS ALL ABOUT THE EX­PE­RI­ENCE. Spec­i­fi­ca­tions, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and, yes, cost, are all the means to de­liv­er­ing some­thing sub­lime. And yet, lux­ury is an ever-chang­ing con­cept in the au­to­mo­tive world. Years ago, power win­dows and re­mote en­try would have been con­sid­ered lux­ury fea­tures, but to­day, even ba­sic sedans would not be able to sell with­out them. The chal­lenge to lux­ury car­mak­ers is to de­liver not just a sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but also some­thing unique.

Push­ing the bound­aries of lux­ury is what the new BMW 7 Se­ries is all about. The lux­ury sedan was launched at Singapore’s Gar­dens by the Bay, where BMW demon­strated some of the fea­tures that make this car unique.

It wasn’t sur­pris­ing that the sixth-gen­er­a­tion 7 Se­ries seems to have been de­signed from the in­side out. A suitably roomy cabin is part and par­cel of the pack­age. Mak­ing it stand out are seats that pro­vide mas­sage func­tions not just for the front, but the all-im­por­tant rear seats as well. The front pas­sen­ger seat can move for­ward an ex­tra 90mm for greater rear legroom, while the back­rest can re­cline quite a bit, to pro­vide a suit­able place for a mid-traf­fic power nap.

For work­ing, there’s a fold-out ta­ble. Cabin func­tions are con­trolled via a seven-inch tablet com­puter that can be re­moved from the front seat­back. The tablet con­trols cabin tem­per­a­ture and rear seat func­tions in­clud­ing the mas­sage. It can act as a games con­sole and can play back files through the car’s au­dio sys­tem.

The au­dio sys­tem is pro­vided by Bri­tish au­dio spe­cial­ist Bow­ers & Wilkins. Uti­liz­ing its di­a­mond tweeter tech­nol­ogy, B&W has tuned the sur­round-sound sys­tem specif­i­cally for the acous­tics of the 7 Se­ries cabin.

BMW took a page from its up­per-crust sta­ble­mate Rolls Royce for a lit­tle bit of am­bi­ence. The Sky Lounge op­tion fea­tures a panoramic glass roof that in­cor­po­rates LED mod­ules and an im­printed graphic. The re­sult is a night sky mo­tif with scores of il­lu­mi­nated “stars.”

Then there’s the scent. Whereas Eau de Poltrona Frau is the aroma we usu­ally as­so­ciate with a BMW cabin, thanks to the leather in­te­ri­ors, the 7 Se­ries of­fers some­thing dif­fer­ent. The Am­bi­ent Air pack­age ion­izes the in­te­rior air to help neu­tral­ize harm­ful micro­organ­isms and pro­vide a health­ier at­mos­phere. It also re­leases one of eight avail­able aro­mas to make one’s drive more stim­u­lat­ing. For ex­am­ple, the scent called Au­then­tic Suite No. 2 fea­tures, among oth­ers, pome­gran­ate, berg­amot, lemon, and worm­wood. Nat­u­ral leather can of course of­fer its own heady scent. BMW crafts the in­te­rior from no less than 35 square me­ters of leather.

Un­lock­ing the 7 Se­ries is an event in it­self. You could be for­given for mis­tak­ing the Dis­play Key of the 7 for a minia­ture smart­phone. After all, it has a small touch­screen that can fa­cil­i­tate mon­i­tor­ing of the car’s sta­tus, in­clud­ing charge level for hy­brid models, and re­mote en­gine start. The Re­mote Con­trol Park­ing op­tion al­lows the driver to ma­neu­ver the car into and out of tight park­ing spa­ces while out­side the car. The re­mote-con­trol tech that was then fan­tasy in the Pierce Bros­nan-era James Bond film To­mor­row Never Dies is now, sans the road spikes and mis­sile launcher, a re­al­ity.

Aid­ing safety is the 360- de­gree bird’s-eye view pro­vided by the ex­te­rior cam­eras. The sys­tem is ex­tremely re­li­able, such that we were able to ma­neu­ver the 7 into and out of a park­ing space with the win­dows com­pletely cov­ered.

There’s an­other sur­prise fea­ture for the driver in BMW’s ges­ture con­trol tech­nol­ogy. BMW rev­o­lu­tion­ized the switchgear for lux­ury cars with its iDrive sys­tem. This uses a wheel and few but­tons to con­trol a menu-based sys­tem. Now, there’s no need for even the iDrive wheel for some fea­tures. Ges­ture con­trol al­lows the driver to sim­ply use his hand to gen­er­ate cer­tain com­mands. Pinch­ing your fin­gers in midair and mak­ing a vol­ume in­crease ges­ture ac­tu­ally makes the au­dio louder. Phone ring­ing while driv­ing? Sim­ply point for­ward to take the call, or, if it’s the of­fice, wave your hand to dis­miss the call.

All of these were just the jewel-like ic­ing on a very tasty cake. The core of any BMW is the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. On a short course around the Ma­rina Bay area, the BMW 7 Se­ries de­liv­ered the re­spon­sive­ness and agility that makes it the sports car among lux­ury sedans.

There’s a choice of in­line-six and V8 en­gines, mated to an eight­speed au­to­matic. The 3.0-liter in­line-six in the 740Li de­liv­ers 326 tur­bocharged horses, and 450Nm of torque, start­ing at just 1380 rpm. All-wheel drive is an op­tion, and the 740e plug-in hy­brid can rack up to nearly 48 km/ liter. Front and rear air sus­pen­sion com­bat dive and roll, giv­ing the driver more con­trol.

The 7 Se­ries is a re­mark­able 130kg lighter than its pre­de­ces­sor thanks to its Car­bon Core tech­nol­ogy, and just 120kg heav­ier than the smaller 5 Se­ries sedan. Us­ing knowl­edge gained from its car­bon-fiber plug-in hy­brid ve­hi­cles, the i8 sports car and the i3 com­pact, BMW has in­te­grated the light­weight and ex­treme rigid car­bon fiber ma­te­rial into the chas­sis of the 7 Se­ries. The pay­off is a car that is re­spon­sive and nim­ble on the road. The 7 feels much smaller from be­hind the wheel.

From in­side the cabin, it’s a much big­ger car. The sooth­ing mas­sage, sump­tu­ous in­te­rior ma­te­ri­als, thun­der­ing au­dio sys­tem, and yes, even the pleas­ant scents can make even a jour­ney in heavy traf­fic more than tol­er­a­ble. When the road opens up, and when you plant your foot and grip the steer­ing wheel tighter, a dif­fer­ent kind of plea­sure awaits.

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