2016 BMW 7 SERIES LAUNCHED IN MZANSI

BMW owns Rolls-Royce, so technically speaking the Phantom is their flagship product. But for the BMW mother brand itself, there is no higher calling than that bestowed upon the 7 Series luxury sedan, the brand new model of which has been launched in sunny South Africa. For the past few generations the 7 Series has been upstaged by its fellow German rival, but now appears to have stolen the upper hand.

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Striking in design, especially the front end which features the typical BMW twin kidney grille and adaptive LED headlights with optional laser lights, the 7 exudes presence at every turn. Strips of chrome appear on several occasions, including the lower front bumper, window frames, a hockey-stick shaped element that extends from the front end to the rear, as well as on the boot. Wheels can be specified in 18, 19 or 20-inch sizes with matching tyres. Rear LED lights form the normal L-shape BMW cars are so known for.

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Certainly one of the top two best-handling cars in its class is the new 7 Series. Although many of its millionaire buyers will not necessarily care too much about its behaviour on a race track, they should know it can take care of business. This I found out during my drive in the car where several mountain passes were attacked and conquered, in a 1.8 tonne machine. Slicing through some of the most notorious curves and passes in the Western Cape, the 7 never once felt its size. In fact the opposite was true; nimble, sharp, confident.

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The dynamics are aided by the front suspension with a double track control arm axle with separate lower track arm level, aluminium, small steering roll radius, anti-dive, air suspension with automatic self-levelling, while the rear suspension is a five-link axle, aluminium, with steering function, anti-squat and anti-dive, double acoustic separation, air suspension with automatic self-levelling. With a standard 2-axle air suspension and Dynamic Damper Control, the 7 Series also offers a range of suspension settings; COMFORT, SPORT, ECO PRO and ADAPTIVE modes, at a toggle of a knob. Suspension can also be raised up to 20mm for driving on “bad” roads, or lowered by 10mm at speeds over 120km/h.

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While many will definitely enjoy the subtle agility of a luxury sedan with 5 metres of metal stretched ahead, others will prefer the extra pampering offered by the rear seats. Whether in the normal wheelbase or the longer-wheel-base stretched to 5.2 metres, there is quite ample rear legroom. Rear seat passengers will enjoy a plethora of features, including reclining seats and a multimedia orchestra that includes a removable tablet device used to control all sorts of things. You can even surf the Internet while stretched out there.

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The rest of the interior is sheer class, installed in a variety of wood, leather and metal surfaces. We don’t forget to mention leather itself as a basis for luxury, while lighting packages offer different takes on the night for the executive who knocks off late from work. So every executive basically. Seats are comfortable, hugging, adjustable in a million different directions, and offer the mandatory massage, warming and cooling functions.

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BMW has improved the iDrive, the pioneer of the modern “mouse”-based in-car infotainment system. The big buzz words are Gesture Control which literally allows for some of the iDrive systems to be controlled by merely waving one’s hand on the screen, without actually touching it. The abovementioned 7-inch tablet system is called Touch Command and works with WiFi throughout the car. Of course you might already know about Remote Control Parking (only available in SA from May) which allows for the car to completely park itself into a tight garage or parking spot through the rather large key, while the driver stands outside watching. All in all this is one of the most technologically-advanced cars on the planet today.

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As far as models are concerned, at launch we get the 730d, 740i, 750i and the 750Li which is 14cm longer than the rest. The 730d has a 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine producing 195kW at 4 000rpm, and 620Nm between 2 000rpm and 2 500rpm. The 0 – 100km/h sprint is done in 6.1 seconds, average fuel consumption is claimed at 5 litres per 100km and top speed is 250km/h. Petrol models kick off with the 740i, now reduced to a straight-six 3.0-litre turbo putting out 240kW between 5 500rpm and 6 500rpm, and 450Nm between 1 380rpm and 5 000rpm. BMW says it can dash from 0 – 100km/h in 5.5 seconds, also top off at 250km/h and average 6.6 litres per 100km.

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Lastly – for now – are the 750i and 750Li whose 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 delivers 330kW between 5 500rpm and 6 000rpm, while torque is 650Nm made between 1 800rpm and 4 500rpm. Rushing from 0 – 100km/h takes 4.7 seconds and average fuel consumption is said to be 8 litres per 100km. All 7 Series models are driven by an 8-speed automatic gearbox that sends power and torque to the rear wheels.

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Besides being a technological tour de force, the all-new BWM 7 Series offers something that no other car in its class can match; sport. So while competitors will eventually catch up in terms of the tech, none have yet to offer the coveted combination of supple handling, joy of acceleration throttle response and rolling comfort when driving in day to day traffic that the 7 has. As such, it is now the best car in its class, and effectively the best car in the world.

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BMW 7 Series Prices (standard models)

740i (R1 339 000)

730d (R1 365 500)

750i (R1 755 000)

750Li (R1 893 500)

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