I’ve just got back from our first go in the new BMW 7-Series – a technical presentation about all the new tech that’s been crammed into it, and a chance to take it for a spin in the controlled environment of a test track.
The new four-wheel steering system, integrated with the familiar active steering, makes it feel remarkably agile for such a big car. The adjustable damping of the suspension means the car can offer both limo-like refinement (in ‘Comfort’) and genuine athleticism (in ‘Sport’ or ‘Sport Plus’). The latter setting cuts intervention from the car’s built-in stability control to a minimum, but keeps other traction preserving functions.
Granted, our test cars were pamper pre-production models, but in default suspension mode they rode noticeably smoother than the current car – which had been laid on by BMW for comparison purposes.
Engine noise in the 740i I drove was extremely subdued, too. Okay, it’s lost the V8 engine of its predecessor, but the 7 has never been the sort of car you drive next to acoustically reflective surfaces so as to sample its bent-eight exhaust note. The new motor’s increased frugality and lower emissions will be of far more concern for most modern drivers.
From the driver’s seat the car feels spacious and well-built, and its modern interior feels properly focussed around the driver. Neat details include an instrument panel that stays entirely black until the electronic dials go live.
A proper verdict will have to wait until we get one onto the open road. But at first glance the new 7-Series looks modern, capable and dynamically accomplished.
It’s certainly got the sort of kudos to carry itself in the golf club carpark – all the ingredients for success, in other words. But the big question will be that of how well it manages to fare in the current economic climate.