BMW says that the definition of luxury is changing, so its sixth-generation 7 Series strutted up to the COTY gates sporting an Armada of A-grade equipment: a touchscreen key fob, a rearseat tablet, and a hand-gesture command system, as well as the ability to park itself remotely (even if that function is not legal here). Is tech the new luxury, or is it still space, opulence and power?
This G11 7 Series had a crack at all three, beginning with larger dimensions than its invisible predecessor for an incredibly sumptuous cabin.
Lovingly swathed in Nappa leather, it’s welcoming, spacious and warm, and as high-end as they come: real metal buttons, for instance, genuine wood inlays and an Alcantara roof-lining. The judges soaked it up as they indulged in the extensive array of technology, and were suitably impressed with the new 7’s far more extravagant cabin.
Surprise-and-delight kit included a rear-seat tablet, developed with Samsung, that enables up to 24 operations from as far away as 300 metres, beyond which it’s ‘just’ a tablet. Also mesmerising the COTY crowd is the touchscreen ‘Display Key’, sure to win any key party hands down. A serious show-off piece, it also allows you to warm or cool the cabin prior to entry, and check remaining fuel range, or if you’ve left a window down for Fido.
Seated up front in the BMW’s wonderfully luxe cabin, gesture control, which can be used to operate the phone and audio, saw arms flailing and initial confusion as human and machine tried to communicate, before amazement at the centre display’s crystal graphics and camera that allows you to spin the car and look around it in 3D.
Despite the increase in size and opulence, the 7 Series is up to 130kg lighter than before. Central to this is a ‘Carbon Core’. BMW’s expertise with the lightweight material has filtered down from its i-cars program, including the COTY-winning i3.
Used in all three pairs of pillars, as well as the door sills and roof bow, the carbon construction also increases rigidity, and, in theory, driving dynamics.
The weight loss also enables the 1725kg 740i – the sole 7 Series at COTY – to achieve just 7.0L/100km on the ADR81 government cycle.
The 740i is powered by BMW’s all-new B58 240kW 3.0-litre turbo-petrol straight six, matched to an eight-speed ZF automatic. It’s a silken engine at cruising altitude, and has a surprisingly grunty, characterful rasp when pushed. It’s potent, too, with 450Nm on tap from 1380-5000rpm, meaning the turbo six is all anyone could ever really need.
Riding on 20-inch alloys, the 740i delivered the finest ride of the 58-car COTY field – a sublime combination of composure and control. The standard self-levelling air-suspension and dynamic dampers enabled excellent body control, with overall balance and poise beyond expectation.
Many judges expected a five-metre-long car loaded with so many computers to be a little anaesthetised, but the 7 proved otherwise.
In terms of game-changing innovation, the flagship BMW 7 Series doesn’t move the goalposts; rather, it kicks goals by refining and improving existing tech. An impressive piece of technology itself, it’s a superbly executed luxury sedan whose major accomplishment is that it finally feels like a properly opulent 7 Series, delivering a first class experience for driver and passenger alike.
Type 4-door sedan, five seats Boot capacity 515 litres Weight 1725 – 1865kg
Layout front engine (north-south), RWD Engines 2993cc 6cyl turbo-diesel (195kW/620Nm); 2998cc 6cyl turbo (240kW/450Nm); 4395cc V8 twin-turbo (330kW/650Nm) Transmission 8-speed automatic
Tyres 245/45R19 – 275/35R20 ADR81 fuel consumption 4.9 – 8.3L/100km CO2 emissions 129 – 192g/km Collision mitigation .
Crash rating not tested Prices $217,500 – $312,700
No, the driver of the 7 Series next to you isn’t swatting flies; he’s using BMW’s new gesture control. The new 7 now has a 3D sensor between the gear selector and rear-view mirror that ‘reads’ arm and hand movements, allowing button-free operation of the climate control, audio system as well as the ability to answer/ reject phone calls. You can even program a specific gesture to perform a function of your choosing: thumbsdown to reject a telemarketer?