We finally got to see the latest version of the acclaimed BMW 7-Series. This represents the latest in an ongoing back and forth for market image and share between BMW and Mercedes.
The crown for the most desirable large, luxury sedan has often swung back and forth between the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes S-Class. Eve though S-Class has always been the standard in luxury, BMW has always been the “Ultimate Driving Machine” between the two. Over the past few years with BMW moving toward more mainstream handling aspects and Mercedes moving improving their handling characteristics, this defining line has blurred.
So these days handling is important, but luxury, technology, and passenger appointments have taken a front row in market expectations. There’s no doubt that the current version of the S-Class is in a league by itself. The luxuries and technology surpassed what was expected when the model was released. Now it’s time to see how BMW has used their time to answer the raising of the bar.
An early glimpse of the new G11/12 BMW 7-Series was somewhat of a disappointment to many who hoped for a more aggressive update to challenge the Mercedes. This is not an indictment of the design staff of BMW at all. I recall my initial expectations and thoughts when the W222 Mercedes S-Class was finally revealed. I felt the same way. I guess its human nature to expect something radically different from a predecessor. The S-Class as well as this new 7-Series doesn’t stray too far from a successful formula. Their redesigned models were more of a modern evolution than something earth-shattering. That being said, the S-Class went totally off the chart with upgrading their interior. So I at least expected the 7 to challenge in this area.
Well, the new G11/12 version of the 7-Series did things in their own way. In fact it appears they did it right. This is why I generally wait a day or so to give my thoughts on a new vehicle. Sometimes it takes a few days to let the looks and process marinade. Then and only then can you see the general wisdom of those charged with the development of these models.
Okay let’s get to it. I like it. I don’t “LOVE” it just yet. But I do like it overall. It looks much better than those infamous leaked photos we’ve all seen. People who were invited to some of the earlier private reveals said it appears more “modern” and a bit “sharper” than the outgoing model. Though we’re still not a fan of joining the headlights to the grille as BMW seems to be doing; I guess I understand how it stretches the horizontal lines of the front end.
Where the S-Class pushed the luxury envelope, their high-end tech offerings were great, but nothing we hadn’t already seen on their vehicles. This new BMW though has concentrated on providing a much lighter vehicle using space-aged technology. More importantly they’ve included some tech features that are ground breaking. Some more useful than others, but it’s the path this new model took for the high-end luxury sedan market.
Please refer to our Technical Report of this new model for the detailed and official BMW Press Release and technical specifications.
Several of the high-tech offerings of this new 7-Series might go un-noticed at first blush. Then there are the items that BMW are known for. One in particular is their Best in Class Head-Up Display. If you’ve ever had a BMW with HUD you know what I’m talking about. Any vehicle without it is a letdown. In fact, those competitors WITH HUD is also a letdown when compared to any of BMW’s displays. They’re simply the best out there. Well guess what. They’ve raised the bar even further with the new HUD unit on this 7. The new version covers 75% more area over an already wonderful system. This full color system is standard and provides everything from speed limits, turn-by-turn navigation, but telephone and entertainment menus.
Like almost everyone else these days, ambient lighting of the interior seems to be what’s hot. BMW has joined the club big time and taken it one step further. Not only do you have the expected compliment of ambient lighting options, you now have a “light carpet” outside your vehicle illuminating as you approach the vehicle. It’s not just a light or a logo shining on the ground from the bottom of the mirror. It’s a projected laser-like series of lines illuminating the full length of the door entry areas. It looks great.
Another first is the Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof. The new 7 comes standard with a two-section Panoramic moonroof with an opening front section. But you can now get the optional Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof that by using LED modules illuminates etchings in the glass creating the effect of gently adding to the ambient light within the rear cabin. Wow.
At this point we might add that that with the push these days seems to be all about the luxuriousness and comfort of the back seat passenger. The emerging Chinese market could have a lot to do with this. Well, BMW has gone as far as referring to their rear seating area as the “Executive Lounge”. Wow!
BMW has included the typical right-rear passenger extended lounge chair feature that is popping up on many models. The front right seat automatically moves clear out of the way for the reclining right rear seat with foot-rest to extend. Then there’s the removable touch pad by Samsung and powered by Android to control the usual array of vehicle functions from the back seat.
While we’re on the subject of displays and the tech behind them; this new 7 has introduced gesture-control for its center display and for several i-Drive functions. A simple wave or twist of your hand can execute key actions within the system. How useful this could be will be determined later. But for now it’s a first.
These are just a few of the new technology features of the new 7. Many of the features are simply evolutions of previous features. They are well executed, thought out and these days somewhat expected. Features such as the option to upgrade to laser headlights as shown on the i8 over the already spectacular adaptive LED headlights are great. The Night Vision with pedestrian and animal control helps identify animals and pedestrians by identifying their heat signatures and bringing them to your attention while driving.
Overall the interior of this new model falls in line with the established theme of other BMW models. In my opinion the Mercedes interior represents the utmost level of luxury albeit it’s a bit “fussy” for my taste. It just seems a bit overdone. Nice, very nice though. Its just a bit busy. The interior of the new 7 is a classy evolution of the current F11/12 models. It flows nicely and is modern as opposed to baroque. The linear dash and driver focused cockpit seems more clean than its competitors. Again, it’s not as dressy as the S-Class, but is very well done in its own right.
BMW has added more brushed aluminum or chrome to the switchgear and trim in the interior of this model. This replaces some of the traditional black or ceramic knobs and buttons. Even the rear “lounge” with the rear center command console is nicely done. It looks modern though not a “flowing” as I’ve seen executed in some models.
The handling and powertrain updates are typical BMW and described in detail in the technical debrief included on this site.
In summary, BMW has even taken steps to improve the owner experience when you own a new 7. Upon delivery you’ll have access to BMW Ultimate Experience, which provides a new level of services. For instance, BMW’s Encore Delivery provides a one-on-one experience with a BMW Genius dedicated to answering all questions about features of the customer’s new vehicle. This second delivery is scheduled at a time of convenience and at the customer’s preferred location.
Priority Service Appointments allow for prioritized service appointments, scheduled within 48 hours of the owner’s initial request and at their convenience. The customer also has the option to participate in an exclusive Vehicle Pick Up and Drop Off service, at a customer’s preferred location. The new 7 Series customer also benefits from a complimentary vehicle spa treatment, at their convenience. A 24/7 Concierge will be available to assist with mobility services and other ownership related inquiries. A guaranteed and comparable Service Loaner vehicle will be provided when needed to assure convenience at all times. Note the “comparable” service loaner. So I expect when in for service you should not get something of lesser value/level than a 7 series until your 7 is ready.
Overall, this vehicle is very well done. Not earth shattering in design over the previous model, but nice. I would like to see a more “aggressive” or sporty M-Sport Package in appearance though. The addition of black trim on some of the chrome bodywork is nice, along with the slightly different front fascia. But it needs a bit more “teeth” in my opinion. Oh, they’ve added a small, “M” badge to the front fenders, which would go unnoticed if you weren’t paying attention. But again…I like it.
Lighter in weight, moderate, yet “sleeker” design, more executive comfort and much more tech equals the new BMW G11/12 version of the 7-Series.
Here’s a video of how things have changed over the years for 7-Series…