The Monticello Motor Club is a country club with a racetrack instead of a golf course. Performance car owners in the New York metropolitan area join to take advantage of the reconfigurable road course that features up to 3.6 miles of track, as many as 22 turns, and 450 feet of elevation changes. Automakers have chosen this venue to show off the prowess of such sporty cars as the Cadillac CTS-V, Lexus RC F, and even the gonzo McLaren 650S. While BMW has also been here with the 1 Series M, you would never expect an all-new 7-Series, the brand’s luxury flagship, to tackle the twists and turns of this country club road course. You’d be wrong.
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Completely redesigned for 2016, the new 7-Series is the sixth generation of BMW’s largest and most expensive car. It returns in just three models at launch: the six-cylinder-powered 740i and the V-8-motivated 750i and 750i xDrive, the latter with all-wheel drive. A 740i xDrive and a 740e plug-in hybrid will arrive soon, but the V-12 760 and diesel 740d do not return, and neither does the short wheelbase body style, as all 2016 7-Series have a long wheelbase that adds an inch of rear legroom.
The 7-Series competes with the likes of the Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS, and the luxury benchmark, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. With such stiff competition, BMW’s goals with the new 7 were threefold: make it more luxurious than ever, introduce new technology, and improve its dynamic character. We traveled to New York to drive the new 7 on the track at Monticello and on the streets around the facility to find out how well BMW has accomplished those goals.
2016 BMW 7 SeriesEnlarge Photo
Big car, sporty dynamics
BMW’s larger cars have gotten paunchy in their middle age, and the last 7-Series was certainly guilty of putting on a few extra pounds. With this in mind, BMW engineers knew they would have to take weight out of the new 7-Series, and they started by developing a new “Carbon Core” platform made from high-strength steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. The carbon fiber is used in key areas where it will do the most good, namely in the central tunnel, the pillars, and roof. The new structure saves about 90 pounds, improves rigidity, and reduces interior noise. Putting the carbon fiber up high also helps lower the car’s center of gravity.
To further reduce weight, BMW used lighter weight suspension components to cut 15 percent of the unsprung mass, formed the doors and trunklid from aluminum, employed lightweight bonding techniques, and added thermal and acoustic shielding to the engine to reduce the amount of sound insulation needed. All told, the new 7-Series is up to 190 pounds lighter than the car it replaces.
The lighter structure teams with a perfect 50/50 front/rear weight balance and a host of suspension technologies to provide a sportier, yet comfortable driving experience. The double wishbone front suspension and five-link rear suspension are aided by standard four-corner air suspension and electrically controlled dampers. The air suspension can raise the car about an inch to better deal with steep driveways or bumpy roads and lower it about a half inch to improve aerodynamics on the highway. The dampers can be set for a firmer or more comfortable ride.