BMW 7 Series: 'fireworks of innovation'

* Luxury car on sale in November * Fully hooked up to the web * More 'elegant' design than existing model...

04 July 2008

BMW 7 Series: 'fireworks of innovation'

BMW will introduce a new 7 Series saloon in November, and Dr Klaus Drager, the man in charge of its development, promises it will be a 'fireworks of innovation'.

A night-vision camera that can pick out people and animals in the road, full internet access through the iDrive central control system and four-wheel steering designed to reduce the car's turning circle and improve lane-change stability head its list of novelties.

The car will also display the current speed limit either in the instrument cluster or on the windscreen, warn you if there is another vehicle in your blind spot when overtaking, and allow you to personalise the suspension settings, shift pattern of the six-speed automatic gearbox and the throttle response.

The new 7 is bigger but lighter than the controversially styled car it replaces, and is more fuel-efficient despite being more powerful.

Engine Line-up
There will be three engines at first. The 730d, powered by a new all-aluminium 245bhp 3.0-litre turbodiesel, will grab the majority of sales. It is almost 4mpg more frugal than the current 730d, with combined fuel consumption of 39.2mpg, and CO2 emissions have fallen to 192g/km.

Buyers who prefer petrol will be offered a couple of twin-turbo models - the 740i, with a 3.0-litre 326bhp straight-six engine, and the 750i, with a 4.4-litre 407bhp V8. Both will be available with standard- or long-wheelbase (+140mm) bodies.

BMW is making no secret that there will be a V12 available next year and a hybrid further into the future. Don't be surprised if there is also a non-turbo petrol engine, aimed primarily at Far Eastern markets, and a more powerful diesel down the line.

On the inside
Dr Drager insists there is no carry-over from the current car - that includes the love-'em-or-hate-'em looks. The newcomer is more elegant, although it can still appear lumpy around the bonnet from some angles because of the need to provide good pedestrian impact protection.

Head of design, Adrian van Hooydonk, says hints of the new 7 may feature on other BMWs, but this is not a generic look for the future. 'We don't do small, medium and large,' he said.

Inside, BMW has clearly been listening to critics of the outgoing 7.

The once-reviled iDrive controller is now much simpler to use, and even gives you access to the electronic owner's manual.

Also, the electric seat-adjustment switches have been moved from the transmission tunnel to the outer edges of the seat bases, and the shift-by-wire gear selector is now in the centre console rather than on the steering column.