BMW is finally doing something they should have done a long time ago: Add all wheel drive (what BMW calls xDrive) to their top of the line 7 series. Their 3 and 5 series has it, why not the 7? What, rich people don’t need more traction? They don’t drive in snow or something … one way or the other, BMW has seen fit to give its top of the line AWD, and the technical details are, as always, interesting, and very German.
Germans are usually seen as being a practical lot, and let’s face it, and all wheel drive system, no matter the corp.-speak nomenclature, is a very practical add on for a car to have. Yes, it does add weight and more mechanical complexity (which essentially means more things to break) and it certainly does give you a performance advantage if you dial it in right, but overall, having every wheel you got putting power down to the pavement is a better idea.
BMW knows this, because it’s been an option for many years on their 3 and 5 series sedans and wagons. And even Mercedes knows this, because their 4Matic system can be had on their BMW-equivalent C and E class cars. And naturally, Audi is onboard, since they’ve done all wheel drive since Gerald Ford was running the U.S. And you’ll never see a press release touting their range topping A8 finally getting AWD, because it’s always had it (and boy if you want to be surprised by what a big sedan can do, mach the right peddle on an S8 some time).
So it’s about time that BMW has caught up and will soon (as in this fall) be offering all wheel drive throughout its range.
Before diving into the tech soup, the really good, gearhead news is that yes, xDrive on the 7 series will include the V12 models as well. Tell me that doesn’t sound like a fun test drive to take on a rainy February afternoon.
The new xDrive equipped 7 will also feature an updated version of BMW’s Integrated Chassis Management, that uses the FlexRay on-board network and the quick-responding xDrive hardware, to identify and limit understeer by shifting torque rearward, sending up to 80% to the rear axle, sort of like Subaru or Audi – WHOA! Did I say that out loud? Sorry about that BMW … but essentially that’s what BMW, or anyone else that’s got an AWD system has had to deal with since Jeeps were running around during WW II: figure out a way to split the torque to all four corners, not just two.
BMW says that by adding xDrive, it will ” … ensure that the 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive will be two of the most nimble all-wheel drive sedans available in any vehicle segment.” Yeah, well I might take issue with calling a car that weighs more than two tons “nimble” but I can see what their trying to spin here.
As a side note in the presser, BMW remarks that the 7 Series will finally get the M Sport Package. That means nice sport goodies such as an M steering wheel, a body kit, Active Roll Stabilization (for RWD models only), Shadowline trim, Anthracite headliner and 19″ wheels with ultra-high performance tires and Carbon Black Metallic exterior paint.
Now all we need to do is get Mercedes off the dime with a 4Matic S Class, and we’ll be golden.