Take a guess how long the press release for the all-new 2016 BMW 7-Series is. 3,000 words? Over 8,000 would make it longer than my dissertation. It is, in fact, 55 pages. Of A4.
Why so long? Because the new, sixth-generation 7-Series really is all-new. Probably down to some gromit in the wiring loom.
At the core of the 7-Series is a multi-material monocoque chassis – dubbed, err, Carbon Core – that makes extensive use of carbonfibre-reinforced plastic in strategic structural areas. It’s one of the first examples of technology pioneered on the eco-friendly ‘i’ cars being transferred across to the mainstream BMW range.
The chassis is one component in a weight saving of up to 130kg over the current car. Significant weight savings have also been found in the running gear, aluminium components reducing unsprung mass by 10kg at each corner.
The styling has evolved from the current model. There’s a clear link between the two, but nothing has been carried over directly. Most notably are a more steeply sloping rear end, more prominent grille – with flaps that open to increase airflow as necessary – and larger LED headlights. The laser high beam units from the i8 will be available as an option.
Four styling packages will be available, according to trim level: standard, M Sport, Pure Excellence and Individual.
As ever, there’s a choice of standard and long-wheelbase versions. The standard car measures 5,098mm nose-to-tail, the LWB model 5,238mm. Both are marginally larger in every dimension than the present car, though the wheelbase is the same.
Power comes from a range of new engines. At launch there will be a single petrol or diesel unit to choose from, both in familiar 3.0-litre, straight-six, turbocharged form, but brand-new.
The 2,993cc 730d produces 261bhp and 457lb/ft of torque. That’s enough for a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. BMW claims fuel economy of up to 62.8mpg and Co2 emissions as low as 119g/km.
Meanwhile, the 2,998cc 740i produces 322bhp and 332lb/ft of torque. 0-62mph passes in 5.5 seconds, with a top speed of 155mph. Up to 42.8mpg and 154g/km of Co2 are quoted.
In 2016 the range will expand with addition of the hybrid-powered 740e, using a powertrain already seen in the X5. It twins a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an electric motor for a combined 321bhp, 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds and 149mph flat-out. 134.5mpg and 49g/km of Co2 emissions are claimed. On electric power alone, the 740e has a range of 25mph at speeds up to 75mph.
The V8-engined 750i will also join the range in 2016. There are rumours of a c.600bhp ‘750i M Performance’ and a V12 version being added at some point, as well.
Every 7-Series come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel-drive as standard; xDrive four-wheel-drive is available as an option on diesel and hybrid.
Chassis systems include a rejigged Driving Experience Control with a new Adaptive mode, which adapts the settings to driving style and road conditions. The suspension now features air springs on both axles, with variable damper control, self-levelling and adjustable ride height.
Hydraulic anti-roll bars are available as an option on the 730d, giving better ride quality. Rear-wheel-steering as also available, the electro-mechanical system providing a small amount countersteer for better manoeuvrability around town, and parallel steer for greater agility at speed.
The interior is chock-full of new technology, centred around the fifth-generation iDrive system. The top-spec satnav can be operated with smartphone-like swipe and point commands, but the big news is the industry-first gesture control system.
The system uses a headlining-mounted sensor that detects a defined set of five gestures to control function including stereo volume control, and accepting or rejecting calls.
There’s the usual laundry list of standard and optional equipment including a thumping Bower & Wilkins stereo; panoramic glass roof that can be switched between six colours; wireless phone charger; bigger head-up display and an interior heating package with heated heated centre console and armrests. The list of driver assistance aids is just as long.
Impressive though all this is, there’s a killer party trick up the 7-Series’ sleeve: remote parking. The driver literally steps out, presses a button on the keyfob, then the car finds a parking space and slots in. There’s no word on the range.
The 2016 BMW 7-Series is due to go on sale this October, with prices starting around £60,000.
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By Only Motors