BMW 7 Series 2013 review | Business Line

8 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on BMW 7 Series 2013 review | Business Line
BMW 7-Series

BMW 7 Series 2013 review

BMW#8217;s flagship saloon has been very popular for its stately looks and unflappable ride quality. A perfect symbol of status for the many buyers who have wanted to announce their arrival, the 7-Series has managed to deliver on that promise of understated opulence. It has grown in size, gotten more loaded with tech and creature comforts and there was already enough legroom at the rear to play footsie with ease.

So what can a new 7-Series bring to this already luxurious equation? Apparently there were other areas of improvement for BMW#8217;s engineers to consider, most significantly in the powertrain department. But, if you walked up to the new 7 Series there would be very few changes that you can spot that are spectacularly different.

If you are a fanboy (or fangirl), then maybe some of the subtle exterior design changes, like the LED indicator lights moving from the middle of the door mirrors to the bottom of the door mirrors maybe all too easy to spot.

Tweaked exterior

But, the other design changes are a bit less subtle, make the new 7 Series sedan look more aggressive and agile, and yet retain its stateliness. The first to strike you is the more vertical kidney-grille design, which also features fewer, but chunkier chrome slats (nine instead of the earlier twelve).

There is the new optional all-LED headlamp package, which together with the integrated, trademark corona rings and the new accent strip at the top make it unmistakably BMW even from afar. The air dam at the bottom half of the front fender also sees changes with the addition of chrome bits and a three-way split to improve air flow around the wheels.

In fact, bettering the aerodynamic profile of the new 7 Series has also meant that the height has been lowered by about 8 millimetres, giving it a more coupe-like silhouette. The front retains its strong, purposeful profile with the long, broad bonnet slab and the short overhang.

At the rear, the changes are equally subtle and mostly involve more chrome detailing. A thick metal chrome strip that connects the two L-shaped tail-lamps is the only noticeable addition. The LED tubes within the tail-lamps now glow in differing shades of red.

Overall, the boot seems to be visually wider and lower than the previous model, though the dimensions remain exactly the same.

Interiors

Step into the new 7 Series and the cabin looks pretty much like the predecessor in terms of the overall design and layout. But, clearly the interior looks, feels and even sounds plusher than before. The seats have been made a bit narrower and cosier.

The usual complement of leather, piano-lacquered wood panels and inserts, and chromed accents are all there.

The addition that will make the new 7 Series more expensive, but will have no one complaining is the new 16-speaker Bang Olufsen audio system. I travelled to BMW#8217;s press fleet centre in Munich to test drive the new 2013 BMW 7 Series. While fiddling with the settings for the great sounding 1,200W BO system, I observed that unlike the twin retracting acoustic lens in the BO system of the Audi A8, the new 7 Series features a single larger, retracting centre speaker topping the centre stack.

The lens makes sure that the audio system sounds equally impressive wherever you sit in the car.

Combined with the new, more effective insulation around the B and C pillars and the noise isolation tech, the audio system is quite a delight. To pamper more of your senses, BMW engineers have also added LED accent lights at all the right places and they can be customised for intensity and colour. The centre stack is now wider, the in-dash display has a few more options and there are changes that have been loaded into the iDrive too.

The other obvious change is in the instrument cluster, which optionally houses a 10.25-inch LED display including digital needles instead of the usual anolog/ digital gauges. The LED display offers a digital readout of the traditional four-ringed instrument cluster, but in addition to this it can be customised to offer additional information and also changes colour and information on offer depending on the driving mode #8211; Comfort, Sport or ECO PRO.

BMW India is planning to launch the new 7 Series soon and while many of the new interior features could make it to the India-spec model, the one that may not make it is of course the quality of the ride. Driving this class of cars on European roads is a whole different in-cabin experience compared to driving on Indian roads which are typically more uneven tarmac. Thankfully, you can choose the new rear seat entertainment package including new, floating 9-inch screens to keep yourself distracted on long trips.

Performance

The big changes to the new 7 Series have been reserved for the powertrains department. The big reason for the engine overhaul and addition of new hybrid tech could also be due to new European emission legislation. There also the new eight-speed steptronic automatic transmission and the new ECO PRO driving mode for optimised fuel efficiency.

There are other aids for saving fuel and reducing average consumption including the auto Start-Stop function and the brake energy regeneration.

By the time the new 7 Series makes it here, the engine options list may be a bit restricted for the Indian market and could possibly include just one each of petrol and diesel engines. The model I test drove was the 750d xDrive, which features the top-of-the-line M Performance, all-wheel drive technology. Said to be the world#8217;s most powerful six-cylinder, in-line, diesel engine, the 3-litre engine features a variation to BMW#8217;s TwinPower Turbo technology.

BMW 7-Series

It sports a three-stage turbocharging process that combines a variable geometry turbine and a tweaked common rail injection system. A carefully orchestrated process with the entire set of technologies ensures that the engine deliver complete combustion and makes available the optimum power and torque under all conditions. The three turbos kick in at various stages of the engine#8217;s rpm range starting from just above idle to about 2,700 rpm.

This not only ensures that there is no turbolag, but also enabling most of its 381 horses are available on demand for the driver at any point in the rpm range. Peak torque is an even more impressive 740 Nm.

My test drive from Munich to a small hill town in Austria took me through some windy, narrow hill roads and some sections of the highway. The 750d xDrive#8217;s remarkable amounts of thrust and easy driving character came through easily along the route. The large sedan is so calm at high speeds and powers so effortlessly that you don#8217;t even notice the needle going past the 200 kmph mark.

The 0 to 100 kmph run clocks in at 4.9 seconds.

This engine is however, very unlikely to make it to India, given the pricing disadvantage that it might suffer from. The engine variants that are more likely to make it here are the 740d or the 730d and the 730i. The 740d is powered by the 3-litre diesel with a regular TwinPower Turbo. Peak power delivered is 313bhp and the peak torque is 630 Nm.

This engine is mated to the 8-speed tranny. The 730d married to a six-speed automatic gearbox is the cleanest diesel in the line-up. It puts out 258bhp of peak power and 560Nm of torque and delivers a 17 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.

The entry petrol engine is the 730i which sports the 3-litre straight-six and generates the same 258bhp of peak power and 310 Nm of peak torque. The engine is paired with the new 8-speed auto gearbox.

The top of the line is the 760i with its refined 12-cylinder, direct injection, TwinPower Turbo petrol engine. The six-litre engine generates a peak power of 544bhp. There is also the BMW Active Hybrid 7 with the second generation Hybrid system.

This combines the 740i#8217;s petrol engine and a 55HP synchronous electric motor.

Bottomline

The new 7 Series also manages to better the ride quality for the rear seat occupants. The key mandate for most users of the car wordwide, the ride quality has been improved by increasing the level of isolation from the road and by reducing vibrations. The use of modified ball joints, stiffer hydraulic dampers, new rubber bearings and a carefully tuned self-levelling air suspension manages to offer that ride quality boost.

The new 7 Series will be launched in India within the next few weeks. The changes and improvements though not immediately visible to the naked eye, will certainly be evident when you sit in one. How many of these improvements and new bits BMW decides to bring to India is something we have to wait to see.

Expect prices to be higher too. But, if the fight has to be truly taken up with its competitors like the Audi A8, at least the new 7 Series now has the right ammunition.

(This article was published on December 24, 2012)

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