BMW’s all-new flagship luxury car is a major step forward in automotive design.Inside and out, BMW’s designers
and technicians have created an entirely new look and feel for the 7 Series and
developed a revolutionary interior concept called iDrive. Two models, the 735i
and 745i, will go on sale at the end of March.
Under the skin is a technological tour de force, which combines cutting edge
body, engine and chassis technology with the latest in electronic and computer
know-how. The combination of performance and economy are peerless in the luxury
sector and refinement is second to none.
It makes perfect financial sense too, with lavish equipment levels, highly
competitive pricing, an innovative five-year service and maintenance package
and strong residual values.
Two models will be available at launch, the 735i (R595 000) and the 745i (R715
000). The V12 760i and long wheelbase models will join the line-up later in
Penned by BMW design chief Chris Bangle, the 7 Series has an entirely new look.
He and his team have created a shape which communicates dynamism, performance,
luxury and has a commanding on-the-road presence. At the same time, familiar
features make it unmistakably a BMW.
Lightweight materials have been used extensively, like aluminium and high-strength
steel. Although the new 7 Series is longer (+45 mm), wider (+40 mm) and higher
(+57 mm) than the previous model and packed with new systems and extra equipment,
it is only marginally heavier (+20 kg). The new body is also extremely aerodynamic
which helps deliver the outstanding fuel consumption figures – 735i 10,7 litres/100
km, 745i 10,9 litres/100 km.
BMW has rewritten the rulebook on automotive interior design with its new iDrive
concept. Faced with the conundrum of ever-increasing vehicle systems and technology,
yet limited space for the resultant proliferation of knobs, buttons and switches
on the dashboards of luxury cars, BMW has found this radical solution.
iDrive is an intuitive, ergonomic design concept which puts the driver back
at the centre of vehicle control. It splits the control systems into two main
areas within the cockpit – the driving area, immediately in front of the driver
and the comfort area, running up the centre console and the middle of the dash,
dominated by the large circular knob (the Controller) and the Control Display.
All the primary controls needed to drive the car are directly in front of the
driver. The gearshift is controlled by a stalk on the steering column and the
parking brake is operated by a button on the dashboard, within easy reach.
The rest of the dashboard is almost devoid of switches and buttons, giving
the interior clean lines and a feeling of light and space. Exceptions are the
primary heater controls and the sound system on/off knob.
All remaining secondary controls are operated via the Controller – a large
circular knob positioned on the centre console. Control areas are selected via
a menu-driven display at the top of the dashboard.
The Controller and Control Display are intuitive and easy to use and help to
reduce driver distraction. Optional voice control of many of the systems makes
life even easier.
Both engines have 32-valves, Double-VANOS variable valve timing and BMW’s new
variable valve lift technology called VALVETRONIC. The latter system allows
the inlet valves to regulate the amount of fuel/air mixture entering the cylinders
and so negates the need for a throttle butterfly. This increases efficiency
and reduces fuel consumption.
A world first is BMW’s new variable length inlet manifold system, which allows
optimum breathing at all engine speeds.
Performance is impressive, the 735i launching from standstill to 100 km/h in
7.7 seconds and the 745i in 6.5 seconds despite the lower octane unleaded fuel
available locally. Maximum speeds are both limited to 250 km/h.
Mated to both engines is another world first for a series production car –
a 6-speed automatic gearbox. This has three modes; drive, sport and manual.
In manual mode, gears are shifted by using the Steptronic buttons on the steering
An extremely stiff chassis and a new active anti-roll system are comple-mented
by the latest in electronic driving stability aids, to serve up the ultimate
driving experience for a luxury car. But however hard the car is driven, the
refinement and ride quality remain sublime.
Dynamic Drive active anti-roll is a standard feature on UK-specification cars.
Sensors detect when the car begins to corner and hydraulic actuators rotate
the asymmetric roll bars to lift the car on the outside of the bend. This does
not load the suspension (like some other systems) so the ride quality remains
perfect. Body roll is reduced dramatically, although not eliminated, as this
feels rather unnatural, and helps to keep all occupants in even greater comfort.
An optional Electronic Damper Control system (EDC-K) has a Sport and Comfort
setting, but in each mode it constantly adjusts the damping rate to suit the
driving conditions at any given moment. In Sport mode the dampers are stiffer
and the steering has more weight.
As well as BMW’s highly praised electronic active safety systems, such as Dynamic
Stability Control (DSC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Cornering Braking
Control (CBC), there is a new one called Fading Brake Support (FBC). Temperature
sensors in the brake discs detect excessive heat build-up and apply extra force
to the discs to compensate for any fade. Under really extreme driving conditions,
when disc temperature exceeds 600ºC, engine torque is electronically reduced
by 25 per cent to allow the brakes to cool.
Servicing peace of mind
As with all other BMWs sold in South Africa the X5’s retail price includes a
5 Year/100 000 km Motorplan maintenance contract, and the peace of mind of around-the-clock
roadside assistance in case of a breakdown or accident with BMW On-Call for
Computers constantly monitor the condition of all the major components and
inform the driver when servicing is required and what needs replacing. Service
intervals will average around 30 000 km and could be as long as 40 000 km for
more gentle drivers.
“The revolutionary design of the new 7 Series, inside and out, will make
a major impact in what is an increasingly competitive market”, says Ian
Robertson, Managing Director of BWW South Africa, “and the car’s combination
of performance and supreme fuel-efficiency is simply second to none. We believe
our new 7 is really going to shake up the luxury sector in the coming years.”