The 2016 BMW 7-Series marks the sixth generation of the famed luxury flagship cruiser from Bavaria. BMW has always been known around the world as The Ultimate Driving Machine, but the 7 series is known more for its luxury than performance.
Don’t get me wrong, when you push the car hard enough, it will respond with vengeance.
“What is the difference between this and the 2015 model?”
The answer is very simple:
Compared to the 2015 version, the 2016 model or the sixth generation is lighter, greener, meaner, and faster than the car it replaces.
But, the one department where it gains weight is in the amount of standard and optional technologies it comes fitted with from the factory.
So, what are all the new features this car has to offer that will set it apart from its German rivals – Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Audi A8?
The styling of the new 7-Series is more evolutionary than revolutionary and will take a keen eyed individual to spot the differences between the fifth and the sixth generation models. However, when compared to the current car, the sixth generation 7-Series does sport some visual changes and enhancements.
Based on the press images released by BMW, this car looks a lot more attractive than the one it replaces.
Still, struggling to spot any major design changes between the two generations? Allow me to help you: Up front, the headlights are now connected to the BMW’s signature twin-kidney grille (which now feature active shutters for better fuel economy) and the headlights now gain a more prominent LED eyebrow.
On the side, the car’s shoulder line crease now continues forward through the headlamp cluster. Also, the side of the new 7-Series features a hockey-stick shaped design element, running through the lower body. To finish the design changes, the trunk of the new car now molds perfectly into a new set of taillights.
The new BMW 7-Series is very close to its predecessor. Although the new one grows just over an inch in length, the width and the height remain largely unchanged.
Engine, Transmission, and Drivetrain Options
At launch in the United States later this year, the BMW 7-Series will be offered with two engine choices, two drivetrain choices, and one transmission.
The engine in the “entry-level” 740i is a 3.0 L single turbo inline-six cylinder engine from BMW’s new, modular engine family with 320 horsepower and 330 lb.ft. of torque. BMW engineers claim that the engine is powerful enough to help the 740i sprint to 60 mph from 0 in a respectable 5.4 seconds.
The engine in the “to-of-the-range” (for now) 750i is a 4.4 L twin-turbocharged V8, which produces a healthy 445 horsepower and 480 lb.ft. of torque. Again, BMW engineers claim that the engine produces enough trust to propel the top-dog to 60 mph from 0 in 4.3 seconds.
At launch later this year, the BMW 740i will debut as a rear-wheel-drive only with an all-wheel-drive version joining the family early next year. However, the 750i will debut with the all-wheel-drive and will later be joined by a rear-wheel-drive version.
However, like the fifth generation 7-Series, the lone transmission option in the new sixth generation model is a ZF-sourced eight speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for more spirited driving – if you are into such things.
Arriving in 2016, the BMW 740e xDrive plug-in will combine a 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a lithium-ion battery under the rear seat, an electric motor, and an 8-speed automatic transmission.
This is a very fuel-efficient and economical package.
On a full charge, the hybrid 7-Series will have a maximum electric-only cruising range of 23 miles with 0 emissions. Driving is possible up to 75 miles per hour before the engine kicks in to back up the hybrid drivet-rain.
After its debut, the car will be available for sale in all 50 states.
As of this writing, BMW officials have not provided any information regarding the availability of the 12 cylinder 760i or the tuner Alpina B7 in the sixth generation of the 7-Series. But, based on the trends established by the previous generations of the BMW 7-Series, these two models will eventually join the lineup sooner than later.
Also, rumors around say that BMW might consider selling the 7-Series with a turbocharged diesel engine to do battle with the Audi A8 TDI and the Mercedes-Benz S Class Blue Tec Diesel.
Suspension and Steering Setup
The chassis of the sixth-generation 7-Series features a new standard air suspension on all four corners, along with electronically controlled dampers and optional active anti-roll bars, which are now electro-mechanically activated as opposed to hydraulically activated.
The driver can raise the car by 0.8 inches, but the car automatically lowers itself by 0.4 inches when it reaches cruising speed in the sport mode.
BMW’s Integral Active Steering or four-wheel steering is again available in the new 7-Series, but now can be paired with both rear and all-wheel-drive systems.
BMW engineers claim that with this system, the LWB (Long Wheel Base) 7-Series will be as easy to handle around corners and tight city streets as the SWB (Short Wheel Base) model. Road Preview, a new predictive adaptive suspension, uses cameras to scan the road surfaces ahead and adjusts the adaptive suspension accordingly.
Body and Chassis
Unlike the previous 7-Series, the new sixth generation BMW 7-Series is based on a new “carbon-core” structure, which is a combination of carbon-reinforced plastic, aluminum, and high-strength steel used in the manufacturing of the car’s body.
Structurally, the carbon fiber is used in the construction of the A,B, and C pillars, the windshield header, and the transmission tunnel. The front fenders are made from molded plastic and the trunk and door skins are made out of aluminum to save weight.
According to BMW, the overall weight is reduced by 190 pounds and the mass is down by 15%. The remaining weight of the vehicle is nearly split even on both axles.
For the past two decades, BMW of America has sold the 7-Series with both a short and a long wheel base. But for 2016, BMW will be selling the flagship 7-Series only as a long wheel base and because of this move, the U.S. bound 7-Series will drop the “L” designation from its model lineup.
However, in Europe, the new 7-Series will be sold in both the short and the long wheel base, thus retaining its “L” designation.
Media and Infotainment Systems
The redesigned i Drive infotainment system retains its signature center console dial, but for 2016 adds a touch screen with pinch-and-zoom functionality and the ability to move the map with your fingers.
The rear seat occupants in the new BMW 7-Series can now enjoy a built-in, and removable Touch Command Tablet in the center armrest. With this table, the occupant(s) can adjust the climate controls, the rear seating position, and the front infotainment system.
If this is not enough, the occupants can also surf the internet via these tablets thanks to a new built-in Wi-fi hotspot.
Inside the cabin, the new BMW 7-Series offers a lot of touchscreens for all occupants to play with, but if for some reason these screens are not satisfying your tech needs, BMW offers you the option of inserting a touchscreen into your vehicle’s key fob.
Yes, your key fob!
The touchscreen in your key fob indicates if your vehicle’s doors are locked or unlocked, if your windows are open or closed, and it also indicates your fuel level and the range you can travel on that remaining tank of gas.
For 2016, BMW also introduces Gesture Control in the new 7-Series. The system functions via a camera, which is located on the underside of the center rear view mirror and recognizes five hand gestures, which the driver makes close to the center stack.
Some of these gestures includes rotating your fingers clockwise to raise the volume of the radio, rotating the fingers counter clockwise to lower the radio volume, swiping to the right to reject incoming phone calls, pointing to the center screen to accept the incoming phone call, and finally a two finger jab, which is used to set your desired radio presets and the navigation destinations.
Driver Assistance Technology
The new 7-Series features a host of technologies which makes driving this car a breeze. In Europe, the car can be optioned with an auto parking technology, through which the driver can park the car into a designated parallel or perpendicular spot, without him being inside.
With the smartphone app, the car recognizes the selected spot with the cameras, starts the engine, maneuvers into the spot, and shuts itself off. Also, when the driver is done with their business, with the same phone app, they can “call” the car within a certain distance.
When this command is sent, the vehicle starts itself, pulls itself out of the parking spot, and meets the driver.
Sounds cool, doesn’t it?
Yeah, but unfortunately, the sad news is that the feature will not be crossing the Atlantic Ocean anytime soon and American consumers will have to make do with the parking-assistant system, which aids the driver in parking the car in parallel or perpendicular spots while they are inside, controlling the gas, brake, and the gear selector between drive, reverse, and park.
But that’s still pretty good . . .
The adaptive cruise control in the new BMW 7-Series does feature an automated steering function, but in heavy traffic jams, this feature does not offer complete autonomous driving capability. It will, however, help you steer the car and maintain the set lane on the highway.
The adaptive cruise control in the 7-Series has been enhanced for 2016 and now can work with a speed-limit recognition system to automatically reset the car’s speed in relation to the changes in the speed limit. They system can also be set to cruise at the speed limit, or can be fixed to a certain amount above the speed limit.
The side collision is now programmed to work in conjunction with the blind-spot monitoring system. When the two systems sense that the driver is going to make an unsafe or illegal lane change without any warning, the steering wheel will fight the driver’s input and maintain its current lane until the danger is no longer present.
This feature will be really appreciated in New Jersey traffic.
For people who work and have to park their car in the crowded downtown areas, the Active Park Distance Control in the new 7-Series includes an auto-stop feature, which prevents the driver from “touch parking” while they are reversing in or out of tight parking spots.
Of course, if these active technologies become to bothersome and affect your driving style, they call be turned off.
Cabin Luxury Appointments & Features
Since the new BMW 7-Series will only be offered in Long Wheel Base versions in the U.S., most of the attention to detail has been placed in rear seating section of the vehicle.
As with all ultra luxury flagship sedans in the segment, the new 7-Series offers the optional Luxury Rear Seating Package, which includes rear seats with massage and ventilation, heated door and center armrests, and the previously mentioned Tech Command Tablet.
For a few additional dollars, the owner can upgrade the rear seating area with the Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package, which includes all of the features in the Luxury Rear Seating Package, but adds the center console with fold-out table, a reclining rear seat, and a front seat that can move forward.
It also features a flip-down footrest on the front seat back.
On top of all these luxury appointments, the 7-Series also offers an automatic perfume ionizer.
Other convenience features that rear occupants can enjoy in the new BMW 7-Series include a center console mounted wireless phone charger, a 1400 watt Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system with 16 speakers, and standard panoramic roof. If the owner desires, the panoramic roof can be upgraded to the Lounge LED roof, which features tiny LED lights embedded into the car’s headliner and mimics the stars in the sky.
For some owners, the list of features offered in the new 7-Series can be a bit overwhelming, but again, BMW has you covered. With their Encore Delivery Program, the company will send you a “BMW Genius” who will help you navigate through all of the features that are included in your vehicle.
The sixth generation 2016 BMW 7-Series will be available for sale in the U.S. during the fall.
When it arrives, the base price for the 2016 BMW 740i is set at $81,300 (this is an increase of $3,300 over a similar 2015 BMW 740 Li). The starting price for the V8 powered 750i is set at $97,400 (this is an increase of $3,400 over a similar 2015 BMW 750 Li xDrive).
These prices do not include the destination charges, which stand at $950, but I will not be surprised if this price increases as the vehicles make their way towards a BMW dealership near you.