BMW Introduces New 7-Series
By Kevin Miller
BMW chose July 4th to break cover on the all-new 5th generation 7 Series sedan. While most Americans were eating hot dogs and watching fireworks, the rest of the world was learning the details of the latest iteration of BMW’s benchmark luxury sedan.
The 7 will be available worldwide with three powertrains at launch; a 245 HP, 3-liter turbocharged straight 6 diesel in the 730d, a 326 HP, 4-liter twin-turbo straight 6 in the 740i and 740Li, and a 407 HP, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 (shared with the X6 Sports Activity Coupe) in the 750i and 750Li. Both of the gasoline engines feature direct fuel injection, and the diesel mill employs third-generation common-rail direct fuel injection. All new 7 Series vehicles will be equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission which features quicker, smoother shifting, improved torque-converter efficiency and a new-type E-Shift driver interface.
Compared to the like-named 750i/Li predecessors’ 4.8-liter naturally aspirated V-8’s 360 HP, the new engine represents major progress in performance; and though official ratings are not yet in, it is expected to deliver class-leading fuel efficiency as well. To provide some context to this achievement: the previous 7 Series’ 6.0-liter V-12 develops 438 hp and 444 lb-ft.
The long-wheelbase 750Li of the fifth-generation 7 Series has its own roofline. This solution provides additional rear head room, as well as help maintain the dynamic proportions of the car to avoid making it look like a stretched version of the short wheel base 750i. To shave weight from the new vehicle, aluminum is used to form the roof, doors, hood and front fenders, as well as front spring towers, differential housing, and engine block.
The new 7 Series features an entirely new suspension design. It is BMW’s first passenger car (i.e. not Sports Activity Vehicle) with a multi-link double- wishbone front suspension. On the 750Li, self-leveling air suspension is standard. The suspension system features further development of BMW’s standard Dynamic Damping Control, which allows the driver to choose between four settings for shock- absorber firmness, transmission shift characteristics, engine-throttle response, and power-steering assist: Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. In Sport Plus, the traction-and-stability system Dynamic Stability Control switches to its Dynamic Traction Control setting (reduced traction intervention), which is suitable for track-style driving. Also new, and a world premiere is Integral Active Steering (in the optional Sport package), which adds speed-sensitive rear-wheel steering to BMW’s proven front Active Steering system.
Inside the car, a new generation of iDrive premieres in the new 7 Series, with larger 10.2 inch display, a more intuitive menu structure, enhanced navigation system, and audio-system hard drive (13 GB of the 40 GB hard drive may be used for music file storage). Other new iDrive details include buttons for direct selection of the Radio, CD, Navigation and Telecommunications menus, surrounding the primary controller.
More features of the all-new 7 Series include options such as Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, Head-up Display, High Beam Assistant, BMW Night Vision with new Pedestrian Detection, Side View and Back-up Cameras, and Adaptive Cruise Control. The optional Adaptive Cruise Control functions such that in addition to the speed-maintaining, acceleration and deceleration functions of the standard cruise control, ACC can adjust the BMW driver’s speed according to traffic conditions via radar sensors at the front of the vehicle. Stop-and-Go mode can bring the vehicle to a complete stop if traffic calls for it. The 7 Series’ standard cruise control adds a new function as well: the ability to apply the brakes to maintain the set speed on longer downhill stretches.
A technological tour-de-force, the new 7 series should reach North America in early 2009.
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