The BMW 7-Series
was just redesigned last year, but like many things striving for a sense of perfection (or indulgence) there is no settling for having reached a goal. Hence, less than a year later, we have four new variations from BMW
When talking about super-luxury sedans like the Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Jaguar XJ, there really is only one serving size of luxury - large. These world-class sedans, and others in the segment, deliver perfection in comfort, performance and technology each time you turn the key in the driveway. Trust me; it's what you are paying for.
It would seem that at such lofty heights of excess there would be nowhere to go but down, right? Wrong. The 2010 7-Series
is offered in two trim levels: the 750i and the long-wheelbase 750Li. The two are mechanically identical rear-wheel-drive cars powered by a direct-injection, twin-turbocharged V-8. What's new for this year is the all-wheel-drive system on both trims as well as a hybrid version. (Yep, they've got one of those, too).
The fourth new option is the 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 with an eight-speed automatic. Needless to say, everything new for the 7-Series
has a buyer segment it appeals to - or BMW
wouldn't make it.
Of all the super-luxury sedans mentioned earlier, the BMW 7-Series
is clearly for those who love to drive. Delivering a melding of nimble sport sedan handling and responsiveness with the amenities of a big cruiser, the 7-Series
is a pleasure to sit in - even if it is not moving.
Lead designer Chris Bangle, who got his ears slapped back a bit (mostly by media critics) for his exterior treatment of the previous generation 7-Series
, can proudly stand next to the new 2010 version and claim success again. The previous generation 7-Series
was an odd departure that lacked BMW
's exterior tradition and felt overdone, even though car buyers apparently loved it because it was the best-selling 7-Series
ever (so much for journalists having their fingers on the pulse of the market).
has the whole athletic package: the muscular front end, a sweeping, streamlined roof exuding speed and performance, and a higher belt line that makes the car feel more anchored to the ground. Add in gorgeous 18-inch rims and you have a superstar performer ready to play.
My tester was the new 750 Li, a stretch version with a massive cabin that oozed class and sophistication. As expected, the interior is a vast network of high-quality materials and fine fitted pieces that always seem to be acting as a whole.
The interior is a driver-inspired design that meshes high-tech gadgetry with a no-nonsense layout. You would be hard-pressed to find a more modern operating assembly across the dash while the horizontal décor elements draw your eyes to key functioning spots.
For those who might be intimidated by the vast owner's manual accompanying the 7-Series
, the owner's manual is incorporated into the entertainment system's hard drive. It's still a lot to digest no matter where you put it.
Getting comfortable in the new 7-Series
is no problem. The 16-way power-adjustable front seats are heated and ventilated, and can be ordered with an optional massage function.
Legroom for rear passengers is outstanding; heck, the rear seats recline. The heck with a limo, tell me you are taking me to the airport in this.
The latest revision to the oft-panned iDrive system, which allows drivers to control most of the car's electronics through a single rotary knob, has gotten a really nice overhaul that makes it much more intuitive and deservedly commendable (for once).
Performance is at the core of the BMW
brand and drivers will fall in love with what makes the brand tick. Can you say 400 horsepower for starters? My tester had the 4.4-liter, 32-valve turbo V-8 with direct injection. A six-speed automatic with a manual shift mode is butter smooth on every shift.
The driving dynamics control system allows the driver to choose levels of performance: comfort, normal, sport and sport plus - each with its own suspension and steering settings. You can feel the car get smaller going from comfort to the rigid sport setting. Handling was taut and highly responsive to every maneuver I put the 4,500-plus-pound beast through.
Most notable is the lack of turbo lag as well as the sports-car-like 50-50 weight distribution. Sure, 14 city and 20 highway mpg is a necessary evil of the overindulgence, but that's a fair trade off in my book.
comes with safety features that cannot help but make the driver feel practically invincible. From passenger and driver front and side-impact airbags to BMW
's head protection system, which uses tubular airbags instead of the curtain-shaped airbags, the 7-Series
has you covered. A knee airbag is also standard.
A front collision warning system constantly monitors the distance between the 7-Series
and the car in front of it. If you get too close, dashboard lights flash warning sounds to alert the driver to slow down and even apply braking to try to prevent an impact.
There truly is not enough space here to go into the vast array of electronics in the navigation, audio and video entertainment systems, each bringing its own extraordinary pleasures to the already luxurious interior spaces of the 7-Series
Li. At a base of $87,355 with options taking the tester to more than $104,200, it is hard to say you get what you pay for because you pay for so much.
This really big luxury sedan makes a statement on the outside and manages to cloak its weight with amazing stability and engineering features. This is a world-class ride if there was one.2010 BMW 7-SeriesENGINE:
400-horsepower 4.4-liter turbo V-8 with direct injectionTRANSMISSION:
rear-wheel driveFUEL ECONOMY:
14 city/20 highwayBASE PRICE:
$104,200+WEB SITE: www.BMW