Having seen the new 7-Series in the metal, I have to say that – as is so often the case with new cars – two dimensions just don’t do its shape justice.
In pictures the new 7 looks two things: very similar to current model and slab-sided. What pictures do not effectively show though is the gentle curve to the car’s flanks and the crease running the car’s length, which together work to disguise the bulk and give the new 7-series a far greater elegance and sense of proportion than the current model.
To my eye, the profile works well, and the back end is a real success. The 7-series used to be infamous for its elaborate rear lights, which made it instantly recognisable from behind (normally after it had overtaken you on the motorway at night). The current shape 7-series’ back end is at best bland and at worst a mess – but with the new one BMW is back on track. (Even if, whisper it, from some angles there’s a hint of Citroen C5.)
But what about the front? The legislative restrictions all manufacturers face on pedestrian impact necessitate bluffer noses and greater separation between engine block and bonnet, but surely BMW could have found a better solution than this.
Yes it is less ungainly than the current model, but it lacks clarity and purpose. Indeed it’s hard to describe how it looks without recourse to the word ‘bloated’. Perhaps it will work better in motion, but I fear not. And that kidney grille, the largest ever fitted to a BMW, looks totally out of proportion and smacks of an out of control corporate ego.
Although BMW bosses won’t admit it, the new 7’s less radical design suggests tacit recognition that the current one went too far.
But with the technology packed into the new car – including double wishbone front suspension and four-wheel steer – I reckon people will be able to live with the looks if it steers as well as BMW is suggesting.
We’ll let you know when we get to drive it later this month.