2016 BMW 7-Series: Carbon Construction, Gesture Control, Plug-In Tech And More

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BMW’s new 7-Series has finally landed, bringing with it more space than ever, loads of technology and powerful yet frugal engines. The car arrives in U.S. showrooms this fall, as a 2016 model, initially in 740i and 750i xDrive variants and with the long-wheelbase bodystyle only. Pricing will start at $82,250 for the 740i and $98,350 for the 750i xDrive. Both figures include BMW’s standard $950 destination charge. Next year, a 740e xDrive plug-in hybrid model will join the lineup.

This is the sixth generation of the luxury icon, and while it may look a lot like its predecessor there’s an impressive number of innovations that have taken place under the skin. At its core is a new modular platform codenamed the 35up. This platform will form the basis of most of BMW’s models going forward and includes carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in its construction. It also allows for a number of other technological advances including electrified drivetrains.

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Using lessons learned in developing the i range of eco-focused cars, BMW engineers designed the passenger cell of the new 7-Series to incorporate CFRP in areas exposed to heavy loads. The strength of this lightweight material helps to increase torsional rigidity, meaning less traditional materials such as heavy steel needs to be used. This leads to a significant weight reduction—190 pounds to be precise—which in turn leads to improved dynamics and fuel economy. The curb weight for the 740i is 4,225 lbs while the 750i xDrive weighs in at 4,610 lbs, and both also feature an ideal 50:50 front-rear weight split.

2016 BMW 7-Series with M Sport Package

2016 BMW 7-Series with M Sport Package

2016 BMW 7-Series with M Sport Package

2016 BMW 7-Series with M Sport Package

2016 BMW 7-Series with M Sport Package

2016 BMW 7-Series with M Sport Package

Looking at the exterior, there’s no mistaking this for anything but a BMW. It features a smoothly downward-sloping roofline, displaying familiar BMW proportions, headlined by a long hood, short overhangs, long wheelbase and a set-back passenger compartment. The cabin is framed by predominately horizontal surfaces and lines, with the color and material combinations picked to create a relaxed ambiance. There are two non-metallic and nine metallic shades to choose from for the exterior, and wheel sizes range from 18-21 inches in diameter. Those seeking a particularly sporty look can opt for an available M Sport Package.

The 740i features BMW’s new B58 modular six-cylinder engine. Displacing 3.0 liters, the engine features turbocharging and direct-injection technologies to help it achieve an output of 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the engine accelerates the car from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds. In the 750i, you get the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 fitted to the outgoing model. Output is unchanged at 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, which is enough for 0-60 mph acceleration in just 4.3 seconds, helped along by the standard xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

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The 740e xDrive model coming next year will feature the same plug-in hybrid system found in the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e. The drivetrain consists of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor integrated with the car’s automatic transmission. This variant should have about 308 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, and on a full charge of its onboard battery it should be able to drive about 23 miles on electric power alone. In this electric-only mode, top speed is limited to 75 mph.

The transmission may only be an eight-speed auto but it can be linked up with the car’s satellite navigation system, just like in the latest Rolls-Royce models. The navigation-data-based shift strategy means that the gear selection can be adapted to the driving situation and the route profile even if route guidance has not been set. The transmission also includes paddle shifters on the steering wheel and a launch control function.

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