TECHNOLOGY

Luxury In Serie 7

You may be of the opinion that the 2016 BMW 7-Series is just a cushy almost-limousine for rich dudes with no interest in insane M5 levels of performance. You’d be wrong, then, because like Mercedes’ S-Class, the 7-Series is BMW’s technological flagship. And the new one has some crazy interesting stuff. Here are some highlights.

The platform is the future of BMW sedans and coupes. This 7-Series debuts a new modular platform called “35up” that will underpin a lot of future BMWs, including the 3-Series, 5-Series, 6-Series and presumably the 4-Series coupe as well. That includes their wagon and GT derivatives.

The body structure is carbon fiber reinforced plastic. See more details on this here. It’s cutting edge stuff. The structure alone shaves nearly 300 pounds off the old 7-Series. It’s derived from technology developed on the i8 and i3. On the 7, it’s the first car in this segment to combine CFRP with aluminum and steel.

BMW Just Kicked Everybody’s Ass With Its Carbon Fiber 7 Series

Remember when Audi introduced its hybrid carbon-aluminum chassis with the Lamborghini Huracan?

A fancy air suspension. Standard on the car is a 2-axle air suspension with automatic leveling. That should make for a comfy ride.

Gesture control! Alright, this one’s kind of neat. For the first time ever, iDrive is a touch-screen based system in addition to the controller knob. (Which is good because when I have BMW press loaners, my passengers are always trying to touch the screen anyway.)

But wait, there’s more! A 3D sensor now reads your hand gestures to operate a variety of features, like controlling the stereo volume and accepting or rejecting calls. It may look kind of dorky, but it beats fumbling for the right button when you’re driving. You can even customize different functions to different gestures. Watch those middle fingers, BMW drivers!

Remote parking. The 7-Series can park itself! No need to waste time sitting inside while the car finds a spot to hang out until you come back. All this is controlled with the display-based keyfob unit that comes from the i8.

Tight Spot? The New BMW 7 Series Can Park Itself With No One in the Car

The actual car hasn’t been revealed to the public just yet—at least without its camo wrapping.

BMW introduces the Key fob with touchscreen display

The highly-rumored and somewhat previewed intelligent BMW keyfob is now introduced at the 2015 CES.

GPS-controlled transmission. This is nothing new, it’s been on Rolls-Royce and Mini cars for a while now, but it’s still neat. The gearbox uses GPS data to determine the proper time to shift gears based on the curves of the road. It’s all about efficiency.

Seems like an interesting machine. I can’t wait to try it out. Parking myself is so overrated. I have things to do!

Inside, the Learjetesque back seats offer a footrest, massage, and an armrest-mounted Touch Command tablet, depending on which package you opt for. Don’t forget the 10-inch screens on the back of the front seats. BMW couldn’t have been more obvious about which market it designed this car for if LCDs displayed “To China, with love” on start-up.

And if you’d rather drive? The 750i xDrive features a revised 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 good for 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Minor tweaks—an integrated intake manifold, higher compression, and revised exhaust manifolds—increase efficiency, not overall power. That’s fine. BMW claims a 4.3-second 0–60-mph time, and I don’t doubt it. The 740i gets a turbo 3.0-liter inline-six making 320 hp and, as low as 1380 rpm, 330 lb-ft of torque.

BMW

The ZF eight-speed automatic largely avoids low-speed lurchiness. To increase efficiency, the gearing is fractionally taller, and in Eco Pro mode, the drivetrain can decouple itself while coasting between 31 and 100 mph. Rear-wheel steering isn’t new, but this is the first BMW 7-series that combines it with all-wheel drive. The anti-roll bars now adjust electromechanically, and the massive Seven can even hustle around in Comfort Plus—a floaty Zeppelin experience, but the grip’s there. With Active Comfort Drive, if the car’s GPS identifies upcoming curves and aggressive driver inputs, it will shift from Comfort mode to Sport mode automatically. Don’t bother with Active Comfort Mode: Sport is supple yet firm enough that linking a few turns together makes most of the sedan’s weight seemingly slough off. That’s more confidence-inspiring than fumbling through the first turn and a half in Active mode before the computers catch on.

The big BMW is surprisingly entertaining to drive, considering it packs more gadgets than an Apple store. There are plenty of megasedans trying to strike a balance between East and West. The new 7-series just happens to be better at it than most.