What is it?
The fifth generation of BMW’s flagship saloon. The 7 Series has always played the dual role of limo and sporting saloon, and the new car is no exception.
As befits its flagship status atop the range, it comes laden with equipment – or the extra-cost option of such kit – much of which will later cascade throughout the rest of the BMW range.
In design terms, this 7 Series has moved on from the controversial design language of the previous-generation model, which also gave BMW’s one-knob-triggers-all ‘iDrive’ system its debut, and this has been substantially redesigned for the new car.
Although the exterior styling is clearly a refinement of what went before, the whole gels more effectively and carries with it a subtle muscularity that gives the car a sporty, athletic visual dynamic.
That’s justified, too – because the substantially new engine range delivers more performance and also because BMW is fielding yet more trick hardware in the quest for added dynamism.
BMW has revived four-wheel steering and standardised three-position electronic dampers. And, as quick reactions are vital to these systems, this 7 Series also features a potent new data transmission network called FlexRay.
What’s it like?
The fresh technology has been impressively well integrated, with the buttons and switchgear feeling far less intimidating than the previous car’s unduly complex turn-and-click controller.
The i-Drive controller is now smaller, and surrounded by a cluster of switches that make it easier to access each sub-system.
The screen itself, previously housed beneath a bulbously ugly binnacle, is more cleanly integrated into the centre of the dash.
The result is a vastly more streamlined and elegant dashboard, an effect reinforced by door trims styled to coordinate more completely with an interior that’s modern, inviting and fluently sculpted.