11:08 | 12/06/2015 Society
BMW is finally pulling the wraps off its sixth-generation 7 Series. The flagship boasts a ton of improvements for 2016, including a smattering of onboard tech and weight reduction of 190 pounds.
The 7 Series uses a new internal structure called Carbon Core. Derived from the i sub-brand, Carbon Core uses a mix of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic and ultra-high-tensile steel for the 7's major structural components. It's largely responsible for the 190-pound weight reduction, along with the aluminum doors and trunk lid. The weight savings has allowed BMW to maintain a fifty-fifty weight distribution.
That new structure underpins the largest sedan BMW has ever produced. At 206.6 inches in total, the long-wheelbase-only 7 Series is over an inch longer than its predecessor. Its 124.6-inch wheelbase and 74.9-inch width, though, remain unchanged. Even with such a modest increase in size, BMW is claiming best-in-class rear legroom, at 44.4 inches – a tenth of an inch more than the current 7. Unlike the old car, though, this new 7 Series gets with the times in terms of chauffeur equipment. The front passenger seat can be slid forward and folded, allowing a lucky rear passenger to take advantage of the new pop-out footrest and optional 42.5-degree seat incline, available as part of the Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package.
The 7 Series will debut here in the United States with two engines, both of which should be familiar to BMW consumers. There's a 320-horsepower, 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder in the nose of the 740i, and a 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 with 445 hp on tap in the 750i xDrive. 60 miles per hour arrives in a relaxed 5.4 seconds for the 740i and 4.3 seconds in the V8 model. Once again, ZF provides the eight-speed automatic transmission used with both engines.
Joining the 740i and 750i is the new 740e xDrive. The plug-in-hybrid sedan is motivated by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder and an electric motor, and is capable of 23 miles per charge and speeds of up to 75 miles per hour in pure electric mode.
Tthere's no shortage of tech on the latest 7 Series. While we're familiar with some items, like active grille shutters and BMW's Air Breather system, it's items like the gesture-control-equipped iDrive 5.0 that pique our interest. Alongside the new and standard touchscreen, iDrive now adds a number of 3D sensors that respond to pre-programed hand motions. While we'll reserve judgment until we actually try it out, we admit, it sounds like a rather silly and unnecessary technology. That's doubly true for the new and thankfully optional Display Key. BMW doesn't say much about the oversized key fob – judging by the photos, it looks only slightly smaller than one of Nokia's candybar phones from the early 2000s – but we're expecting it to show simple information about the vehicle. You know, kind of like a smartphone app.
Perhaps the most exciting thing we can say about the new 7 Series is this: we won't be waiting long to get behind the wheel. BMW claims the new sedan will arrive in dealers this autumn, and has even announced pricing. The 740i starts at $81,400, or about $3,300 more than the current 740Li, while the new 750i xDrive gets a similar price bump, ringing up at $97,400, or $3,400 more than the current model. Neither price hike seems unreasonable, based on everything we're seeing here./.