2013 BMW 7 Series Review

2013 BMW 7 Series Review

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Introduction

The 7 Series has always been a statement of BMW’s technical might at any given time. In its present generation, the car offered numerous new technologies but has been facing some serious competition from the Audi A8 and the Mercedes S Class, with the latter already being in its new generation.

With the next-generation 7 Series due to debut in 2016, BMW gave the 7 Series a significant update for 2013. In India, this is the first time that the 7 Series is being locally assembled. Here’s our look into the technologies that have gone under the knife. Do they make the 7 Series a better car? Read on.

BMW 7 Series 3

Design

The 7 Series in its present generation isn’t about an inspiring or striking design, despite which it does manage to exude a striking road presence, mainly due to its sheer visual mass. The facelift includes changes to the headlamps, which now feature new LED lights and a slight redesign. The trademark kidney grille now features nine slats instead of the 12 found earlier. All of these translate into a sharper look for the car, something the 7 Series lacked earlier, when compared with the A8.

The rear too has been redesigned mildly to lend a sharper and streamlined look, and that gels well with the new front. The overall visual effect is significantly better than the previous generation product, giving the new 7 Series a much more dynamic and sharper look.

Powertrain

Off late, BMW has become renowned for pushing the envelope of efficiency, while enhancing the driving pleasure. The 7 Series continues in the same fashion and now offers engines, which are cleaner yet more powerful than their predecessors. Our test car was a 730 Ld, equipped with a 3 l diesel engine, producing 258 hp at 4,000 rpm and 560 Nm of torque at 1,500 rpm. Despite an increase of more than 13 hp and 20 Nm of torque, the engine offers increased fuel efficiency along with lower emissions.

BMW 7 Series 11

On the road, the updated engine offers a dynamic experience, to such an extent that it’s almost impossible to believe the car weighs close to two tones. TwinPower Turbo technology means that there is almost no lag right from the start, staying the same across the rev band. The new eight-speed automatic transmission further improves drivability. In addition, an increased number of closer stacked ratios enable smooth acceleration in any situation. Overall velocity build-up is linear and during our tests, we recorded a best 0-100 km/h time of 6.8 s, using a handheld GPS device.

The new transmission along with several refinements to the engine helped us achieve a fuel efficiency of 8.7 km/l in city traffic and 12.4 km/l on the highway. These are brilliant figures for the car considering its weight and performance. In fact, the transmission shifts through the ratios so quickly, one is hard pressed to trust the unit to be a double clutch type. Another thing to be considered is that during the three days of our testing the vehicle, weather conditions were wet almost throughout. In drier conditions, one could expect a slight increment in acceleration and fuel-efficiency figures.

Handling

The 7 Series, owing to its size and weight is naturally a larger challenge for everything that has to do with physics. Helping it offset quite a lot of that disadvantage are the numerous weight-saving measures and an optimum suspension set-up. The bonnet, roof, front side panels, doors and front spring struts are all made from aluminium. The roof and doors alone help save seven and 22 kg, respectively over similar parts made from steel. However, body strength has gone up by 60 % while torsional rigidity is up by about 20 %.

BMW 7 Series 2

Another addition, helping the handling along with ride quality is the air suspension at the rear. The automatic suspension maintains a uniform riding height irrespective of the driving conditions or carried loads.

As a result, the overall handling of the large 7 Series is quite predictable and manageable. Taking longer curves is a breeze and the air suspension ensures that the ride quality is consistent throughout. Body-roll though is evident and becomes quite a handful over sharp turns but the overall traction stays fine. Given the 7 Series’ positioning, ride quality is a priority and in that area, the car completely shines through.

BMW 7 Series 7

Interior

For any product in the super luxury segment, the interior usually is a decisive factor, as these cars are largely chauffeur driven. Like in the exteriors and powertrain, BMW brings about evolutionary changes and features improvements aimed at enhancing the comfort. The newly-designed seats now offer improved lateral support and although we weren’t able experience the vehicle over a long drive on the highway, more than two hours in the rear seat was supremely comfortable and left us convinced that much longer journeys too should be a very comfortable.

While the front seats and the instrument panel are brilliant in terms of functionality, it’s the rear where most of the action is. Along with supportive seats, rear passengers can enjoy the 23.3 cm screen mounted behind the front seat. The i-Drive controller at the rear means the rear passenger can control the infotainment experience seamlessly.

BMW 7 Series 6

The overall material quality is impressive and in line with the segment levels. In terms of features, one wouldn’t feel the lack of any interesting technology in the cabin. Moreover, the 7 Series is aimed to please the rear seat occupant and it does that very well indeed. The only place where the 7 leaves us wanting for is the overall design scheme, which bears more than desirable resemblance to other BMW cars from lower segments. This takes away the special feeling of being in a flagship luxury saloon to some extent. Given the subjectivity of looks, lot of people might look at it in a different way altogether.

Round-Up

The 7 Series is the best of luxury that BMW has on offer presently and from a technology perspective, it doesn’t leave any boxes unchecked. From a consumer’s perspective it offers better comfort and features than its predecessor. For the one driving too, it is a vastly improved and well-responding car. Put all these pieces together and it becomes clear that the 7 Series has improved in many key experiential areas and that to by a significant margin.

BMW 7 Series 4

Overall, it’s a much better car than the older version and also better-equipped to take on the competition. The only thing that seems to be missing at times is the awe factor and at Rs 92.9 lakh, ex-showroom, some people would definitely miss that void. For the majority who don’t and probably won’t, the new 7 Series will hardly give you a reason to complain, when weighed against its competitors.

Text: Arpit Mahendra

Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay