As agile as a BMW 5 Series, as cosseting as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and as impeccably put together as an Audi A8, the forthcoming 2016 BMW 7 Series will topple the luxury segment’s hierarchy for a number of reasons.
1. An all-new, turbocharged straight-six engine, code-named B58, is part of a new engine family with three-cylinder (B38, used in the new Mini Cooper) and four-cylinder (B48, in the Cooper S) variants.
2. The I-6 in the 740i makes 320 hp, the V-8 in the 750i makes 445 hp, and the V-12 in the 760Li is good for about 545 hp. There will be two diesels—powered at 265 hp and 320 hp—and a plug-in hybrid, fitted with a 2.0-liter turbo-four and a 90-kilowatt electric motor. The hybrid comes to the U.S. in 2016 and will be badged as the 740e xDrive. It can travel 23 miles on all-electric power at up to 75 mph.
3. The 2016 BMW 7 Series uses light but strong carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts made in Moses Lake, Washington, and shipped to Germany for final assembly. Parts include the parcel shelf, roof cross-members, and reinforcement tubes that run the length of each roof rail.
4. The body shell is almost 90 pounds lighter than before, and the new 7 Series should weigh between 4,050 and 4,300 pounds, 285 pounds less than the current car.
5. Using aluminum hats on the steel brake discs, four-piston brake calipers that require less structural bracing, and smaller wheelhubs and suspension knuckles, BMW reduced unsprung weight by 15 percent over the outgoing car.
6. Compared to the outgoing 7 Series, the weight distribution is now perfectly balanced, and the center of gravity sits closer to the road.
7. Air springs and adaptive dampers are now standard, and there’s an optional electromechanical anti-roll bar adjustment that changes the level of roll resistance by decoupling the anti-roll bars.
8. Adaptive driving mode predicts which of three vehicle settings—Comfort, Comfort Plus, and Sport—best suits conditions by determining how the car is being driven, using information from its navigation system to proactively switch between modes.
9. Stereoscopic cameras at the top of the windshield detect big obstacles such as speed bumps and signal the car to soften its adaptive dampers.
10. An eight-speed automatic remains the only transmission, although it has reduced internal friction, a wider, more fuel-efficient ratio spread, and navigation-based predictive shifting.
11. For now, BMW plans to sell only the long-wheelbase version of the 7 Series in the U.S., mirroring Mercedes’ decision to not import its standard-wheelbase S-Class. At 206.6 inches, the new 7 Series is about 1 inch longer than the outgoing long-wheelbase model.
12. A key fob with a color touchscreen (above) allows owners to remotely drive the 2016 BMW 7 Series forward into a garage or narrow parking space and then reverse it out. The system currently works only with forward parking and cannot reverse into a space remotely. U.S. laws prohibit this feature because regulations require the brake pedal to be physically depressed to shift a car out of park. However, BMW is petitioning the U.S. government for a workaround and will offer remote parking here as soon as it is legal.
13. The 7 Series has the first application of a new touchscreen iDrive interface. In addition to the standard rotary controller on the center console, the infotainment system now responds to touches on its dash-mounted display.
14. You can now also gesture to control the infotainment system. A small infrared camera mounted near the map lights monitors hand motions near the shifter. Rotate your index finger to adjust the audio volume, and point at the screen with two fingers splayed like a peace sign to start navigation to your home address. If you receive a call over Bluetooth, pointing toward the screen answers the call while waving your hand to the right dismisses it.
15. You now use the touchscreen to change the air-vent settings or activate the heated seats, but you still use physical knobs to adjust the cabin temperature.
16. The seats are fantastic; they perfectly hug your body and can pamper you with massages.
17. Adaptive cruise control uses data from the navigation system and cameras that read traffic signs to automatically adjust the speed. Drivers can program the system to exceed the speed limit by about 10 mph.
18. A self-steering system can keep the car centered in its lane at speeds up to 130 mph and can actively prevent you from leaving your lane if there’s a car in your blind spot.
19. Available rear-wheel steering enhances maneuverability in town and stability at speed.
20. The 2016 BMW 7 Series starts production in Germany late this summer and will be at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. BMW expects to deliver the first cars to the U.S. this fall.
21. A new Active Kidney Grille automatically opens and closes to balance the engine’s cooling needs against aerodynamic performance. It’s the first BMW with an electric grille opening.
22. Wireless charging for smartphones is now available in the center console, and there’s even an additional microphone so passengers can join in on Bluetooth calls.
23. Pricing for the 2016 BMW 740i starts at $82,250, while the 750i xDrive will cost $98,350 when both cars launch in the U.S. this fall.