All senses are stirred by The BMW 7 Series.
TOUCH, SIGHT, SOUND, AND EVEN SMELL ARE ALL IN THE NEW BMW 7 SERIES
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.