BMW's updated flagship, the 7 Series, has been launched in South Africa. Although it already has a seemingly-endless list of luxury items, the Munich-built behemoth will soon feature additional new safety technologies.
The 730d is powered by a straight-six diesel engine with a light-weight all-aluminium crankcase, piezo-injection technology and particle filter. The three-litre unit produces 170 kW at 4 000 r/min and 520 N.m from 2 000 to 2 750 r/min. Zero-to-100 km/h is covered in 7,8 seconds and BMW claims fuel consumption of 8,2 litres per 100 km on the combined EU cycle.

The 740i replaces the 735i in the line-up. It uses a V8 petrol engine with Valvetronic and double-VANOS to produce 225 kW at 6 300 r/min and 390 N.m at 3 500 r/min. The zero-to-100 km/h sprint is completed in 6,8 seconds.

Similarly, the 750i replaces the 745i in the line-up, with its 4,8-litre V8 producing 270 kW at 6 300 r/min and 490 N.m at 3 400 r/min. The car is claimed to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 5,9 seconds.

The 12-cylinder unit used in the long-wheelbase 760Li remains unchanged. The flagship powerplant produces 327 kW at 6 000 r/min and peak torque of 600 N.m at 3 950 r/min. It sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 5,5 seconds.

With the exception of the 730d (with a top speed of 238 km/h) all the models are electronically limited to 250 km/h. A six-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic is standard on all models.

The chassis and suspension of the 7 Series has been updated to include a wider track (by 14 mm), and the "adaptive-drive" package is now standard on the long-wheelbase models.

In addition, BMW's new Night Vision system will be optional on all models, both locally and internationally, from the last quarter of 2005.

The thermal imaging camera installed in the left front bumper, and protected by impact resistant glass and a grid, covers an area up to 300 m in front of the car. The camera registers body heat and should easily identify animals and pedestrians outside the headlights' range. These images are relayed as a contrasting black-and-white image on the display housed in the centre console.

"High-beam assist" will also be available from the fourth quarter of 2005 in the 5, 6 and 7 Series, to automatically control the operation of the high beam in poorly lit areas.

The high beam switches on in the absence of vehicles on the road ahead or oncoming traffic, provided the road itself is not sufficiently illuminated. Housed in the rear mirror casing, the system detects road users within a range of up to one kilometre.

The cost of a five-year/100 000 km Motorplan maintenance contract is included in the price.

Prices:

730d R651 000

740i R675 000

750i R798 000

750Li R894 000

760Li R1 136 000