2016 BMW 7-Series Review
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BMW 7-Series Review

Car Tested: 2016 BMW 7-Series (730Ld M-Sport); Road Test No. 730

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,53,43,414/-

BMW has gone all out to ensure the 7-Series gives the competition jitters with its improved tech

The world that we know of today is filled with people who have dreams. Most just dream while some work towards converting dreams into reality. While the former category succumbs to the societal pressure and ends up in the usual rat race, the latter create their own path. A path of success. A path which leads them to a position above the rest. And when you are above the rest, you would definitely want to make a statement. To make a statement, your ride has got to be special. It has to have all the luxuries and then some. What better choice than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class? Well, BMW recently launched the all new generation 7-Series in India and we reckon it poses a serious threat to the flagship Mercedes sedan.

Motor Quest: Launched 39 years ago, the BMW 7-Series is currently in its sixth generation. The biggest threat it has always faced is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and more often than not, the three-pointed star has won the battle. This time around, BMW intends to change just that.

The BMW 7-Series looks a lot more classy this time around

Exteriors – The full-size luxury sedan segment is a space where not being over the top is appreciated by most. This puts the manufacturers in a conundrum as to how do they make the car stand out without being flashy. Sure enough, the Bavarian auto giant would have faced the same situation. And hence, they have come up with a design which would be liked by most and hated by none. The front-end is similar to smaller cars in the family such as the 3-Series yet has those distinctive design touches like the laser headlights which offer remarkable illumination. Tasteful use of chrome gives the front-end an elegant look. Move on to the side and things are simple yet again. The shoulder line runs from the headlamps to the rear quarter panel.

BMW has ensured that the 7 doesn’t scream for attention

The new BMW 7-Series boasts of sleek exteriors which are subtle yet modern

At the rear, things are much more interesting. The design looks noticeably different from the Bimmers we have seen till date. The LED tail-lights coupled with the chrome strip look classy. Dual exhaust outlets are neatly integrated into the bumper with chrome surrounds. Our test vehicle, a M-Sport variant, came equipped with sporty looking dual five-spoke alloys which suit the car very well. Personally, I would have preferred lesser chrome on this limo considering it was the M-Sport variant which is supposed to be sportier looking one. However, considering how Indians judge premium-ness by the amount of chrome, it is much needed.

Interiors are where the magic has happened in this iteration of the 7

Interiors – Whenever we talk about luxury cars, it is the interiors which matter more than anything else. After all, it is the place where owners would spend a considerable chunk of their time. In today’s age, time is money. If the owner has to waste few hours of his day just travelling around, they would be flabbergasted. However, BMW has them covered. With the push of a few buttons, you can convert the rear seats into a workstation and a pretty good one at that. The glass area can be covered, laptop table be opened and mood lighting be set-up. More about that later.

The dashboard is typical BMW fare, excellent quality all around

The front seats offer excellent support and the driver has everything in easy reach

First, let us talk about the front seats and the dashboard. Enter inside and you would be greeted by a very comfortable driver’s seat which can be adjusted in more ways than one can imagine. The dashboard layout is typical BMW-esque with the humungous iDrive screen taking centre stage. The quality of materials all around is superb and I would say is pretty evenly matched to the S-Class which is a huge compliment. The aluminium buttons all around scream quality and feel great to use. A neat party trick that the BMW 7-Series has is the gesture control for iDrive which let’s one do basic tasks like pause, play, forward, rewind and volume control with simple hand gestures.

The amount of technology the BMW flagship sedan packs is insane

However, the front seats aren’t where most owners would be spending their time, especially in India. Having read about the amount of technical wizardry this house on wheels houses, I was quiet excited to step into the rear bench. And boy, was I happy! With the car parked, I was busy fiddling with the various controls for more than an hour and yet, I couldn’t explore all of it in one go. There are three control screens at the rear. One each behind the front seats and one is housed in the centre armrest. While the ones behind the seats aren’t adjustable of removable, the one in the armrest can be removed. Basically, it is a Samsung tablet which has been tweaked by BMW to control various functions easily.

The rear seats offer a very luxurious experience

So let’s talk about the features then, shall we? The rear seats are made with supple leather and you sink in them. Tired after a long day at work? No problem, the seats offer massage functionality and it actually works very well. The various modes help you choose the intensity of massage and the areas to target. Fancy working while stuck in horrible traffic? No problem, at the press of a button, the window shades, rear sunblind and sunroof cover close down giving you as much privacy as allowed by law. The ambient lighting which of course can be set in a variety of colours lends the cabin a very nice feel. Finding the light too bright, you can control its intensity. Driver’s soiled socks spreading a dirty smell in the cabin? No problem, the car has its own air freshener system which houses not just one but two fragrances (cartridge replacement is done in the glovebox).

Although BMW has omitted a few features, it is loaded to the gills

The rear seat experience is surreal with the comfortable and spacious seats

I have spoken so much yet I haven’t covered so many features. The new 16-speaker system from BMW which comes as standard fitment on the 7-Series offers impeccable sound quality. The coolest bit about the car has to be the display key. A key which lets you see the AC temperature, range and a few more details, a key which allows owners abroad to call their car out of the parking lot. Understandably, BMW has omitted the valet feature in India keeping in mind the awkward parking situations and costs. For the ones who aren’t comfortable using touch-screens, BMW has given a remote control which lets one control all the features from the comfort of your sofa-like rear seat.

The more practical diesel engine has enough grunt

Performance – The BMW 7-Series is offered with a V8 petrol engine or an inline-6 diesel engine. Considering it will be the oil burner which will garner maximum sales in India, we tested it first. The engine is the latest iteration of the older powerplant found in the previous generation 7-Series. With significant reworking on the engine by BMW, the power and torque figures have come up by 7 BHP and 60 Nm respectively. This results in the new 730Ld being the fastest car among its rivals and the reduction in weight by 105 kgs also helps. The weight loss has been achieved with the use of high strength steel aluminium and CRFP in the body of this BMW.

Different modes tweak the car’s character to a good extent

The 3.0L diesel powerplant offers smooth performance and NVH levels are very low

As expected from a luxo barge, power is delivered in a linear manner which limits the pinned to the seat effect. In Comfort mode, the car has enough pep to do quick overtakes. The Sport and Sport+ modes are for those rare occasions when the owner wants to indulge in a bit of fun or if the chauffeur has a heavy foot. Due to the sharp throttle response in Sport+ mode, it is best left for open roads. The EcoPro mode is a smart choice for when the traffic is barely moving or you are cruising at a calm 100 km/hr on the highway. The brilliant 8-speed ZF gearbox compliments the engine very well and ensures you are always in the right gear.

Being a BMW, driving experience has to be great and it is

Driving Dynamics – Driving dynamics have always been a highlight and selling point of BMWs. Although the 7-Series is skewed towards comfort, it isn’t as boring to drive as the Mercedes S-Class. The sportier driving modes ensure that one gets their dose of fun as and when needed while being in a comfortable cocoon the other times. However, it still falls behind the segment leader when it comes to ride quality. While the ride is good for the most part in Comfort or Comfort Plus mode, expansion joints and bigger undulations are felt inside the cabin. On the highways, the Comfort mode just about cuts it in and ensures the passengers are comfortable.

The ride comfort isn’t as good due to the sporty suspension set-up

In a bid to have good driving dynamics, BMW had to compromise on ride quality

Yes, BMW has worked heavily on the car to improve the driving dynamics while excelling at comfort too with all four wheels getting self levelling air suspension. What it loses in terms of ride quality, it gains in terms of steering feedback and handling. The steering is light enough in Comfort mode and gains sufficient weight and feel when in Sport or Sport+ mode. Due to the 50:50 weight distribution, cornering is a joy despite its 5.22 metre length. You do not expect a huge limousine to be agile but the 7-Series surprises you in that department. The brakes too do their job well and help stop the 1.8 tonne behemoth well in time, without any drama.

All safety features present with an excellent service network to boot

Safety and After Sales Service – As is expected of any luxury marquee, the BMW 7-Series is loaded with all the safety tech we are used to seeing on Bimmers. When it comes to after sales service, BMW has a good reputation in India and is seen as an easy to maintain luxury brand. The service packs and excellent extended warranty options mean that owners can drive without any worry for multiple years. The competition is yet to offer upto six years of warranty and upto ten years of service packs which BMW offers.

The all new BMW 7-Series has taken a big step up in its latest avatar

Verdict – Being with the car for quite a bit of time makes you realise that it is hugely improved over the previous 7-Series. The interiors have gone several notches higher and the amount of tech inside and out is mind boggling. The Bavarian sedan has always offered a fantastic driving experience but most owners prefer to be in the rear seat 99% of the times and to address the same, BMW has taken luxury and comfort a step up, justifying its ad tagline – ‘Most Luxurious BMW Ever Built’. The new BMW 7-Series is a rare combination of comfort, luxury and driving fun.

The modern look is very understated, technology seen in every corner

What’s Cool

* Well-appointed interiors
* Good driving dynamics
* Gizmos
* Gizmos!
* Some more gizmos!

What’s Not So Cool

* Low profile tyres not suited to Indian roads
* Ride quality not the best

Alternatives: Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Jaguar XJ L, Audi A8L

The 7-Series is a stellar flagship offering from BMW

2016 BMW 7-Series Specifications

* Engine: 2993cc, Inline-6, Turbo
* Power: 262 HP @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 620 Nm @ 2000-2500 RPM
* Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox
* Top Speed: 250 km/hr (Limited)
* 0-100 km/hr: 6.2 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 9 km/l (City), 11 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Double Wishbone (Front), Multi Link (Rear)
* Tyres: 245/45/19, 275/40/19 (Runflats)
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Ventilated Disc (Rear)
* Safety: 8 Airbags and way too many safety systems to list here

2016 BMW 7-Series Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 5219 mm X 1902 mm X 1481 mm
* Wheelbase: 3210 mm
* Turning Radius: 6.25 metres (est.)
* Ground clearance: 152 mm (est.)
* Boot Volume: 515 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1795 kgs

An excellent attempt at ruling the segment, the 7 is a splendid luxo barge

Testers’ Note:

“The BMW 7-Series has taken the fight to its rivals and made it more difficult for the discerning limo buyer to make a decision. The all new model is high on tech and is also very fun to drive, despite its gargantuan size. It has ample space and luxury for those who want to be chauffeur driven but being a BMW, it’s a driver’s car too. However, the driver’s seat doesn’t get massage function. The 730Ld M Sport looks more exciting than its closest German rival.” – Faisal Khan, Chief Editor, MotorBeam.
“Experiencing all the technology that the BMW 7-Series has on offer took a good part of the time I had with it. The features list is too exhaustive and one can’t explore all without reading the manual. While I am more of a petrol guy, the diesel engine is a better choice here as it offers more practicality. However, given a choice I would pick the S-Class over it any given day because of the sheer class the flagship Mercedes sedan offers.” – Aman Sancheti, Road Tester, MotorBeam.