New 2023 BMW 7 Series takes aim at the Mercedes S-Class with bold look
BMW has revealed what it hopes will be the car to take the challenge to the latest Mercedes S-Class. This is the new BMW 7 Series, the latest flagship saloon in the firm’s armoury, which arrives with a complete technical revolution over the old ‘G11’ model.
It brings with it a whole host of technical features set to trickle down to less expensive models in the coming years. So, it’s a significant model of interest not just for those looking for a new high-end luxury car from the German firm, but also anyone hoping to buy a new BMW a few years down the line.
The new ‘G70’ generation 7 Series is built on a modified version of BMW’s ‘CLAR’ (cluster architecture), an adaptable platform allowing the car to be produced in pure combustion, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric i7 forms, although the focus for the UK market will be the PHEV and EV versions. It’s 130mm longer than the G11 7 Series it replaces at 5,391mm, plus 48mm wider and 51mm taller. The additional length comes mostly from the overhangs – the wheelbase has grown by just 5mm.
As you’d expect, it’s packed to the top of that higher ceiling with gadgetry, but this price does reflect this. The range will initially begin with the i7 xDrive60 – combustion models won’t be in the UK until 2023.
In spring 2023 BMW will launch a pair of plug-in hybrid models. Both of these combine a 197bhp motor (integrated within an all-new eight-speed automatic gearbox), an 18.7kWh battery pack and an inline-six turbocharged petrol engine. This setup provides a total system output of 486hp and 700Nm in the 750e xDrive, while the M760e xDrive will pack 563bhp and 800Nm.
BMW hasn’t offered any performance stats for the two PHEV models just yet, but we do know that both will be capable of covering up to 50 miles on electric power alone. In some countries, mild hybrid combustion models are also on the horizon, but we won’t be getting any of these in the UK.
Europe as a whole will miss out on petrol inline-six-powered 735i and 740i, a petrol V8 760i, while a straight-six diesel will make its way to some nations on the continent.
Like the car it replaces, the G70 features a double-wishbone front suspension setup and a multi-link rear, but with several upgrades relative to its predecessor. For instance, the front track has grown by 47mm, while the rear is 4mm wider. Air springs feature as standard, and work independently wheel to wheel, making it possible for the 7 Series to balance out an uneven load. The body drops by 10mm in Sport mode, or at higher speeds for the sake of aero efficiency. The system can also raise the ride height by 20mm on rougher ground.
There’s a four-wheel steering system that turns the rear wheels by up to 3.5 degrees either in tandem with the fronts or in the opposite direction, increasing stability at higher speeds and agility when driving slower. At the other end, there’s a speed-sensitive steering system with a variable ratio that tightens as the lock increases. The final piece of the handling puzzle is an active anti-roll function working through a 48-volt electric motor.
Like the facelifted version of its predecessor, the new 7 Series features large kidney grilles. Here, they’re illuminated, and flanked by a split light cluster design we’ve already seen on the recently updated X7. It’s not something we’re expecting to see on smaller models – BMW says this design language is reserved for its flagship cars only.
Contrasting with the dramatic front end are some more subtly-designed flanks that lack the abundance of lines and creases seen on the iX SUV. Speaking at a preview event for the 7 Series and i7 in Munich, BMW design director Domagoj Dukec spoke of the car having “a strong, unique character with a lot of presence and very clean, monolithic shapes”.
He later told Auto Express: “the car has a lot of similarity to a Rolls-Royce in terms of volumes, the Ghost, because size-wise they’re quite close”. He added: “although it’s a quite majestic and big car, you will see that the treatment is very subtle but sophisticated.”
The M760e gets a unique design for the front apron, featuring a three-section lower air intake, plus an M-specific rear bumper with trapezoidal exhaust outlets (the other PHEV model has hidden tailpipes) and side skirts.
The headline feature of the cabin can be found in the back – an optionally-available 31.3-inch, 8K ‘BMW Theatre Screen’ which folds down from the ceiling, powered by the same software as Amazon’s Fire tablets. Also on the options list is a 36-speaker, 1,965-watt Bowers & Wilkins Diamond sound system, with an 18-speaker setup from the same company offered as standard.
Moving to the front, there’s a striking reduction of physical controls compared to the old 7 Series. There is still, however, the ubiquitous rotary controller for the iDrive infotainment system, joined by the new ‘BMW Interaction Bar’ which stretches across the dashboard and onto the front door panels. The latter functions as both an ambient light and a control surface, changing its display based on various ‘My Mode’ presets and also performing “dynamic light animations,” for instance to give visual feedback for incoming phone call audio.
As first seen on the iX, the new 7 Series has a ‘BMW Curved Display’, which joins together a 14.9-inch digital instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch infotainment screen. These use BMW’s latest iDrive 8 software package.
Merino leather features as standard and is available in five different colours. Alternatively, BMW offers leather-like ‘Veganza’ trim as a no-cost option, or for those willing to spend more for a plusher cabin feel a BMW Individual Merino leather and cashmere combination can be specced.
Two trim levels will be offered initially – Excellence and M Sport – and the 7 Series will be available in only one wheelbase length.
Excellence-trimmed cars get 19-inch rear wheels, swapped for 20-inch rims and more aggressive styling on M Sport models. An M Sport Pro package increases the wheel size to 21-inches, adds some gloss black trim for the outside, M-themed seat belt stitching for the inside and stronger brakes for the chassis. The M model features a different set of 21-inch wheels, bespoke front and rear bumpers and aero mirrors.
As the launch of the plug-in hybrid models is some way off, we don’t have pricing for these yet. So far, BMW has only confirmed the price of the i7 xDrive60 , which starts from £107,400. We’re expecting the M760e to cost slightly more than this, and the 750e to be slightly less.
We had the chance to get up close and personal with both the 7 Series and i7 at the Munich preview event. In the metal, the giant, illuminated kidney grilles and split headlights prove as divisive as they do in the images, but overall, the car is a much cleaner, softer design than the iX and the recently revealed and near-production-ready XM concept.
In any case, the main event here is the interior. Its minimalistic dashboard and the BMW Curved Display mean the cockpit will be familiar to anyone who’s been in an iX, but thanks to the presence of a traditional transmission tunnel, the front of the 7 Series feels more cosy in the front.
The BMW Interaction Bar looks impressive when switching between its various functions, blending neatly into the dashboard. The buttons blended into it, however, which include sliders for the climate control fan speed, may prove tricky to use on the move.
The quality and interesting choice of materials inside are immediately obvious. Carpets feel deep and expensive, the leather soft and (depending on trim choices) exquisitely quilted. There’s a noticeable step up in luxury between this and the outgoing car.
The 8K Theatre Screen in the rear is a real showstopper as it powers on and descends from the 7 Series’ ceiling, looking especially splendid as it plays (where available) ultra-widescreen content that fills the whole device. The Touch Command screens on each door panel – used to control the Theatre Screen among other things – are reasonably satisfying to use, but they don’t seem as responsive as the main infotainment touchscreen in the front.
Click here to read more about the recently facelifted BMW X7 SUV…
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