Test driving the new BMW 750Li xDrive

Updated: 22 November, 2015 19:38 IST | Aspi Bhathena |

At the global launch of the new BMW 7 in New York, we had a go on the road and on a private track. Here is our verdict

Europe, and England in particular, is the vortex out of which pop luxury cars, unless of course you are talking about the Lexus, which is Japanese.

The latest BMV Series 7 has shed 85 kg owing to its light carbon core construction. Pics/BMW
The latest BMV Series 7 has shed 85 kg owing to its light carbon core construction. Pics/BMW

The big three Germans — Audi, BMW and Mercedes — constantly try to outdo each other with their flagship models. In the past, BMW's 7 Series lost out to the competition in ride quality and luxury as previous-generation cars were focused more on driving dynamics than on comfortable ride quality; it was a driver's car.

The global drive of the new 7 Series was held in upstate New York, about half-an-hour by chopper. The drive was split into two: 100 kilometres on the road and a track driving experience on the private Monticello circuit.

BMW's newest offering looks imposing with its upright stance and powerful presence at the front end. It is the first car from BMW to feature an active kidney grille with a visible air-flap control, which comes into play only when increased cooling is required; otherwise, it remains shut.

This improves the aerodynamics as well as giving the front end more style due to the extra number of bars on the large kidney grille. The headlight units merge into the grille, while the light graphic of the familiar BMW circular headlights is levelled off at its upper and lower edges, giving the car a purposeful and focused look.

The hood is honed perfectly to fit in with the form of the kidney grille's upper section. The lower air intake stretches wide across the front end, the chrome in the outer edges of the intake and the horizontal contours of the LED fog and the full LED lights underline the car's broad stance.

Under the hood is a 5-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol with 450 PS on tap
Under the hood is a 5-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol with 450 PS on tap

The door handles are incorporated into the character line, which now takes the form of a double swage line. For the first time, the wrap-around side window frame uses a single-piece element, elegantly incorporating the Hofmeister kink. Air-vents on the front fender spawn a chrome trim strip which runs along the lower edge of the doors and its horizontal form accentuates the car's finely balanced look and low centre of gravity.

The prevalence of outward-curving surfaces gives the new 7 Series a powerful stance from the side on. The new car has shed 85 kg owing to its carbon core construction. The use of carbon-fibre, steel and aluminium makes the body-shell lighter and stiffer at the same time.

Tail-lights feature LED technology and the two L-shaped light units are connected by a chrome bar extending the full width of the boot-lid and the rear apron features exhaust tailpipes framed by chrome surrounds, adding luxurious details to the body of the new 7 Series.

The interior oozes BMW's standard of quality; in fact, it sets a new benchmark in luxury and comfort. This is the first car in the world to have gesture control. You can increase and decrease the volume of the music system or change the track or the radio channel with a twirl of your finger. The display key gives the range of the car according to the fuel level, as also when service is due.

The upholstery is made from the finest leather and, as the seats lithely accommodate you, they have massage functions for further relaxation. The increased leg-room at the rear is class-leading and gives you the feeling of sitting in an armchair. The rear passengers get a seven-inch touch command tablet. The Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) music system is top-of-the-line and it is worth experiencing the quality of sound reproduction.

The front suspension is double wishbone, with five-link rear suspension. The standard inclusion of front and rear self-levelling air suspension endows this car with the ride comfort of a luxury sedan. The advantages of the air suspension in the front and rear are enhanced thanks to the standard dynamic damper control system. The electronically controlled dampers improve ride comfort and add to the dynamic handling qualities of this car. The braking is taken care by four ventilated discs.

Normally, manufacturers don't invite people to drive their luxury sedans on a racetrack but BMW is different; they wanted to show the dynamic capability of the car. On the racetrack, in sport-mode, the new 7 feels like a sports sedan. You can throw it round corners and it will hit all the apexes without a fuss.

The loss of weight and body stiffness is evident on the racetrack. On public roads, where the road surface reminded me of conditions back home, the 7's ride-quality and cabin insulation were top-class. The moment you touch the throttle pedal the V8 propels the car with a whoosh and the head-up display turns red, telling you that you are over the US speed limit of 55 mph (88 km/h). The new 7 Series has redefined luxury and dynamics at the same time and has set a benchmark for the competition.

BMW 7 Series Evolution
E23 (1977-1986): BMW's first luxury sedan to use the '7' nomenclature. It replaced the four-door version of the New Six (E3). More than 2,85,000 were built over the 10-plus year life-span, the longest for any 7 Series

E32 (1986-1994): Second-generation 7 Series brought in traction control, an integrated telephone and fax machine, and even a wine cooler. Lang (long)-wheelbase model, or L, made its first appearance. 750iL was the first car in the world to have high-intensity discharge headlamps

E38 (1994-2001): With the third-gen 7, BMW became the first in Europe to offer integrated satellite navigation. It's flagship was the 750iL Armoured (that featured in the Bond film 'Tomorrow Never Dies')

E65/66 (2001-2008): Chris Bangle brought a radical change in design to the fourth 7. iDrive made its first appearance. Hydrogen 7, the hydrogen-powered version (E68), was introduced and only 100 were produced

F01/02 (2008-2015): First 7 to feature an eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive and double-wishbone front suspension. All engines were TwinPower Turbo units. Second-generation iDrive touchpad interface introduced

Need to know
BMW 750Li xDrive
Price (Estimated) Rs 1.6 crore
Engine4,395 cc, V8, twin-turbo, petrol, direct injection
Maximum Power 450 PS@5,500-6,000 rpm
Maximum Torque 650 Nm@1,800 - 4,500 rpm
Transmission 8-speed Automatic, AWD

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First Published: 15 November, 2015 08:30 IST

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