If you want to take command of BMW’s all-new, tech-saturated 2016 7-series flagship, then you must embrace your inner Italiano and talk with your hands. Good—now try it with more passione.
One of the surprising and delightful innovations of this magnificent Seven is BMW’s new Gesture Control for its improved iDrive “infotainment” system.
Answering, or declining, a phone call is now as easy as waving hello. A quick point at the iDrive touchscreen accepts an incoming call. Don’t want the intrusion? Simply swish your hand to the left or right like Don Corleone dismissing an intrusive waiter.
The twirling finger is the ultimate command, though it requires practice to perfect. Twirl to the right to turn up the audio volume. Twirl to the left to turn it down.
If you’re slightly embarrassed at the thought of all this pinching, pointing, prodding, and twirling, don’t worry—you can still use the iDrive buttons or voice control to get the same results.
The gizmo overload doesn’t stop with the Gesture Control. In need of an in-cabin perfume dispenser? While Mercedes’ S-Class sprays one scent, BMW ups the ante with a choice of two at a time. Don’t Chanel and Chloé clash?
What about massaging rear seats? The Seven’s system displays how the blood is flowing through your tensed muscles. It even includes a so-called Vitality Program to give your tired muscles a workout on longer journeys.
And if you thought a car key’s main function was to unlock doors, think again. With the panache of a mini smartphone, the Seven’s new Display Key notifies drivers of everything from locked doors to closed windows and even how long until the next oil change.
With spec sheets and a features list so long it rivals War and Peace, it feels as if BMW has thrown every gadget it can at its new Seven only to out-tech its arch rival, Mercedes’ latest S-Class.
And it’s not just the gadgets that are over the top. Take the Bimmer’s new Carbon Core platform. Instead of shedding weight by opting for aluminum, this new 7-series uses mega-expensive carbon fiber bonded over steel. It reinforces key structural areas, like the roof pillars and the central tunnel. Tubes of woven carbon are also used in the roof and the sills, in addition to magnesium castings and aluminum for the doors and trunk lid. Talk about complexity. Just don’t crash it.
All of this yields a mere 190 pounds in total weight savings. Contestants on The Biggest Loser have lost more in the course of a season.
Thankfully, beneath all this gimmickry is a superb car with a laser-like focus on luxury and comfort.
To ensure optimum relaxation, U.S. buyers will only be offered stretched, long-wheelbase versions of BMW’s flagship. These new models have been extended more than an inch to keep knees from coming anywhere close to touching the seats in front.
Initially, consumers will have only two versions of the all-new Seven from which to choose: the $81,300 rear-drive 740i, powered by the familiar 320-horse 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six, and the all-wheel drive $97,400 750i xDrive with BMW’s turbine-smooth 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 producing 445 galloping horseys.
Sometime next year, there’ll be a plug-in 7-series, a rear-drive 750i, and an all-wheel drive 740i. By that time, hopefully most buyers will have sussed out how to work all the technical gizmos.
PRICE: 750i xDrive from $97,400
ENGINE: 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8
POWER: 445 hp
TORQUE: 480 pound-feet
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
0-60: 4.3 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155 mph
LENGTH/WIDTH: 206.6/74.9 inches
WEIGHT: 4,610 pounds
WHY WE LOVE IT: Beneath all the luxury and technical gimmickry is a car that’s a blast to drive fast.