Remember that crazy scene in the 1997 James Bond flick Tomorrow Never Dies when 007 guides his BMW 750i around a Berlin parking garage using only his cell phone? Well fantasy has suddenly become reality.
See a parking space, step out of the car and, using the key fob screen, you can guide the car forwards into the slot. When you return, a touch of the screen will reverse the car out so you can step right in without any of that nasty door-banging.
This new 7 Series, however, is so much more than gimmicky key fobs. While the shape may look the same, the entire body and chassis is all-new, and nothing less than a technical tour de force.
It’s the first production car to use light but super-strong carbon fiber-reinforced plastic in its body structure to dramatically improve body rigidity.
According to BMW, this so-called ‘Carbon Core’ helps shave over 190 pounds from the car’s weight compared to the current 7 Series. And, for the first time, it gives the BMW flagship sedan a perfect 50:50 weight balance.
When this new 7 goes on sale in the U.S. this fall, it’ll be offered only in long-wheelbase form. And with an inch added to the overall length – making it a whopping 206.6 inches nose to tail – this will be the roomiest BMW model ever produced, boasting best-in-class rear seat legroom.
While we know BMW embraces the evolution-over-revolution theory of design, it’s a pity the German automaker wasn’t a little more adventurous in the styling of its new flagship. While the car is all-new, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish it from its predecessor.
Only the keen-eyed will notice the new front-end changes, which include headlights that are now linked to the trademark ‘kidney’ grille, and the ‘active’ grille vanes that open and close depending on how much cooling air is needed for the engine.
Where this latest 7 Series distinguishes itself, however, is with some of its advanced new technology. The standout is the new gesture control for the redesigned iDrive system. By waving your finger at the screen you can adjust things like volume controls, or accept or reject incoming phone calls.
Initially, at least, only two engines will be offered to U.S. buyers. There’s a 320-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder powering the new 740i, and a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 with 445-hp for the new 750i XDrive. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic.
Pricewise, the 740i will sticker for $81,400, or about $3,000 more than the current 740iL, while the 2016 750i xDrive goes up to $97,400, which is a $3,400 increase.
Currently, Mercedes-Benz’ S-Class outsells the 7 Series two-to-one. Sadly, I can’t see this all-new, sixth-generation 7 doing much to reverse that balance.