The latest incarnation of the BMW 7 Series has been part of many motoring conversations locally and abroad. You may be thinking: “what could they really have changed, except for the shape?” Well if that’s what you think, then read on.

On the outside there has indeed been a complete overhaul of the shape of the new 7 Series. The bulky and somewhat oversized body, has been replaced with an elegant and refined body that flows much better than its predecessor. The clamshell boot has been seamlessly blended into the rear end which has large, square, silver tailpipes that are incorporated into the bumper. In front, the large and prominent kidney grill is what catches your eye, along with the active bi-xenon headlights.

The model that we tested is the Li which is basically longer than a Standard 7 Series. This is very noticeable especially when opening the rear doors which are big enough for two people to get in simultaneously.

Inside the vehicle, BMW has continued the well sculptured and perfect fit of the outside.The door handles and CD/DVD shuttle are hidden behind the wooden inlays that cacoon the driver and front passenger. The dashboard is not the usual plastic, instead, it is covered with genuine leather.

The instrumentation cluster is a mix between analogue and digital, and gives you the option to customise what information you would like displayed. The soft thick pile carpet was so luxurious that it felt like a sin to put my shoes on it. The front seats are electronically adjustable for all the usual configurations, but you can also independently adjust the upper portion of the seat so that you feel as though the seat was designed for you. The front seats also have heaters and coolers, which have become quite common on vehicles, but what sets this apart from the more common vehicles is the seat massagers that assist with the blood flow on long distances!

The Li was obviously designed for people who get chauffeured around. There is more than sufficient space for the fussiest of driver/passenger. The rear seats can recline and move forward or back, electronically of course. There is a semi-fixed armrest that incorporates the seat controls including the heating and cooling options. The door handles incorporate the window controls as well as the electronic blinds that close up or reveal the rear of the vehicle at the touch of a button. Further confirmation that this car is meant for the rear seat passenger is that the front passenger seat can be moved by the rear seat passenger or the driver, ensuring that you have enough space when you need it. This created lots of fun for me as my wife was not sure if there was an electronic glitch or if the vehicle did not like her!

What impresses me the most about this vehicle, is that most of the nice-to-have creature comforts are standard. These include the famous BMW head-up display, active xenon headlights, electrically adjustable seats and sunroof.

So we know the vehicle looks good and has all the creature comforts, but how does it drive? Well, this is a 750Li, with a 4.4 litre twin turbo engine. This makes the car feel like it has a much bigger engine. On the road you can select different suspension and engine settings, from comfort (very soft suspension and easy gear changes) to sport ++ (stiffer suspension, gear changes on the limit and traction control switched off). So you can change from a luxury saloon to a sports saloon (not quite a sports car). Also thanks to the twin-turbo this vehicle has more than enough power and is capable of easily getting you into trouble. The vehicle is the first in the world to be fitted with two side cameras in the front bumpers, which I thought was a gimmick until I came to a stop street. The bonnet was so long I could not see if it was safe to cross, but thanks to the cameras, it was an absolute breeze.

The vehicle also has active steering, which effectively controls all four wheels. This makes for easier cornering as well as for more controlled lane changes at high speeds.

Overall I believe that BMW has hugely improved on the previous 7 Series. I would go as far as saying that this is almost as good as a Rolls Royce, without the bulkiness of the Rolls. So are there any negatives? Well, it unfortunately does not fit in many standard South African parking lots and is a heap of money for a vehicle that effectively only seats four. But I certainly do understand why so many executives have chosen this vehicle, it would definitely be on my list!

Car courtesy of BMW South Africa.
Azim Omar CA(SA)