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By John Floyd

Motorsport columnist

Inventive new BMW 7 Series

Technology and performance combine for a driving experience at the next level.

It is almost four decades since BMW’s 7 Series first saw the light of day and since that day it has continued to push the boundaries of technology.

In Cape Town last week the sixth incarnation of the German manufacturer’s flagship was launched. It has a more svelte and aggressive appearance than its predecessors, with headlight cluster trim panels linking with the larger kidney grille assembly, creating a more fluid edge to the frontal styling.

The rear of the front fenders sport chrome-trimmed air outlet ducts and the chrome finish continues along the lower edge of the door line, accentuating the car’s lower, leaner appearance.

LED headlights are standard with the option of BMW’s Laserlight with Selective Beam, which have their origins in the i8, and these double the range to 600m.


New to BMW is the active airflap system that opens more slats in the kidney grille and lower air intakes as engine and braking temperatures rise, but closes during warm-up and low-load running, thereby providing improved aerodynamic efficiency.


The new 7 Series utilises an innovative construction method resulting in increased torsional rigidity and a more solid platform.

This system utilises Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) which incorporates a carbon core, within the lightweight steel and aluminium body shell components, reducing overall mass by 130kg. The interior reflects quality and luxury.

The spacious cabin is centred on the driver, providing a highly efficient cockpit area.

Switchgear and instrumentation is well-positioned and easy to operate, and as you would expect, features BMW’s iDrive – but for the first time using a large touchscreen mounted on the upper dash panel.

If you prefer the conventional rotary selector switch, it is still on the centre console. As with most German premium segment vehicles the list of options is extensive.

An interesting one is gesture control, which uses a 3D sensor and allows control of the infotainment system by a series of predetermined hand signals.

This is one that takes some getting used to, as I spent half my day switching the audio system on and off but I did progressively learn.


The Remote Control Parking facility is another interesting feature. In conjunction with the new Display Key – yes, the key has an integral display panel – the driver can manoeuvre the car in or out of forward parking bays or garages without being in the car.

Very handy for those situations when the guy in the big SUV has parked so close you cannot even open your door to get into the car.

The Heads Up Display is 70% larger and in full colour, and allows you to monitor just about everything you need to know without taking your eyes off the road.

For those in the rear seats BMW have provided a removable Android tablet in the centre armrest that is used to control lighting, media, rear privacy blinds and seating position.

At launch the 730d and 740i were available. The 750i and 750 Li will follow shortly, to be joined in the fourth quarter of this year by the 740e, a plug-in hybrid model.

I have to admit the 730d is an engine I have always enjoyed, with its huge torque, excellent economy and very sprightly performance. It provides an incredibly leisurely driving experience and is my pick of the range.


The 2 993cc 6-cylinder in-line diesel, using BMW’s innovative TwinPower turbo technology, produces 195kW at 4 000r/min and 620Nm of torque between 2 000 and 2 500r/min.

Claimed figures are 0 to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds, a top end of 250km/h with combined consumption at 5l/100 km and 131g/km of emissions.

Next the 740i, another in-line 6-cylinder, this time petrol powered.

Using a TwinScroll turbocharger, direct injection, VALVETRONIC and Double-VANOS, the 2 998cc engine develops 240kW of power between 5 500 and 6 500r/min with 450Nm of torque between 1 380 and 5 000r/min.

Claimed figures are 5.5 seconds from standstill to 100km/h, top speed 250km/h with emissions at 154g/km and a combined consumption of 6.6l/100km.

Power to the road for both derivatives is through an 8-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox. To take handling to a new level there is the optional Executive Drive Pro – a chassis control system which employs electromechanical anti-roll bars and detects road surface irregularities and adjusts the dampers to suit.

The sixth-generation 7 Series is set to take the driving experience into another dimension of luxury, performance and technology.

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