The partially disused Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base is a short drive west of Munich. It served as the home of the German Air Force training school during World War II and is an ideal location for BMWwhich was originally an aeronautical engineering company, to create a driving school.
We’re here to taste the next generation of BMW 7 series. Against a backdrop of retired airplane hangars and airstrips, the company’s most advanced and luxurious sedan seems conjured up in science fiction. The new 7 Series will hit the market before the end of the year as a 2023 model, and the range will include a new all-electric variant called i7. We drove heavily camouflaged prototypes of petrol and electric models on some of Bavaria’s most idyllic rural roads, as well as several miles of unrestricted motorway.
In addition to the new electric variant, the 7 Series will continue to offer the 3.0 turbocharged inline-six and 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engines, both using a 48-volt hybrid system. There will also be a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Of the internal combustion models, we only drove the V-8, and it proved to be both smooth and powerful, with just enough quiet engine noise seeping into the cabin to remind you that you are not in an electric vehicle. BMW hasn’t released horsepower figures, but judging by the seat of our pants, that’s at least as much as there’s in the current 523-hp 750i model.
The i7’s electric powertrain offers similar speed. BMW has yet to share specific power ratings or battery capacity, but we’re told to expect something close to the iX xDrive50 SUV 516 horsepower and 105.2 kWh battery. Range figures are also unknown, although the iX offers up to 324 miles of driving per charge, according to the EPA.
Tuning of either car isn’t quite done, so we’ll reserve judgment until we can test a production version of each, but hopefully the hiccups we we noticed – occasional upshifts from the V-8 car’s eight-speed automatic transmission and a brake pedal that exhibited too soft initial travel on the i7 – will be worked out before the cars launch.
All models will come standard with air springs, and the new car rides on a wider front and rear track than its predecessor. Those hoping for the return of sport sedan handling, however, will be disappointed that the new 7 Series once again focuses on luxury, ride comfort and cabin insulation. But thanks to a new rear-wheel steering system and adaptive dampers, this next-gen car feels more nimble than the outgoing model. The Sport drive mode tightens things up even further and offers more body control than you get with the default setup, which oddly is called Personal mode despite the lack of customization options.
Hustling the big sedan on winding sections of two-lane country roads that connect the region’s tile-roofed villages proved the 7 Series can hold its own, but leisurely cruising is where the 7 Series shines. most. The i7, in particular, is quiet at highway speeds with little wind or road noise penetrating the cabin.
When fitted with the optional Roadside Assistant, the new 7 Series is even better configured to tackle long journeys. This hands-free technology allows the driver to let the 7 Series drive itself during motorway stints. The system works the same way as GM’s Super Cruise in that it uses a driver-facing camera to make sure whoever is behind the wheel is paying attention to the road while it automatically handles steering, braking and acceleration. However, it is not limited to pre-mapped roads.
Highway Assistant works well and allows easy transitions between automated driving and traditional driving. For example, if the driver presses the brakes to temporarily regain control, the system does not need to be reactivated. Instead, touching a steering wheel-mounted button returns the system to the previous setting and returns it to the driving task. Highway Assistant operates at speeds of up to 85 mph, and it will initially be exclusive to North America.
BMW also redesigned the car automatic parking function, called Professional Parking Assistant. The My BMW smartphone app controls the functionality and now allows the driver to park the car remotely from outside the vehicle. The system can also back the car out of tight spaces, and if you can’t be bothered to park it yourself, it can even be programmed to navigate your driveway and garage. However, it is not a valet robot, the driver must remain close to the vehicle and control it via the application during these maneuvers.
Through the thick camouflage of the interior, we saw glimpses of what looked like textured glass trim, and heavily piled carpet floor mats with quilted seams seem to indicate that BMW took inspiration from Rolls Royce and intensifies the lavishness of the 7 Series. For those who prefer to be chauffeured, the rear seat is as spacious as expected and will offer an optional entertainment system that BMW calls theater screen. It unfolds from the ceiling and measures 31.0 inches in diameter. The 8K high-definition display uses Amazon’s Fire TV interface so you can stream movies, as well as access internet browsing over a 5G data connection, all controlled by touchscreens built into the control panels. back door.
Both the 7 Series and the 2023 i7 will be unveiled later this month, when we can see more of what the interior has in store. BMW expects the new 7 Series to go into production this summer with deliveries starting in November. Regardless of its styling and interior design, the next-gen 7 Series looks impressive due to its technological features alone, which would have easily blown away the historic occupants of Fürstenfeldbruck.
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