Every single day auto makers thrive hard to make the automobile more efficient and powerful. And to differentiate their offerings in a crowded market place, car makers also come up with a host of new comfort features. BMW is one such auto maker that continues to add more features and this is particularly true for its flagship sedan, the 7 Series. And now there's a new one on sale.
Now, this 7 Series gets a slight cosmetic upgrade and a few mechanical changes. But it looks very much like the outgoing car, at least at first glance. But look closer and the changes become clearer. The front end now receives full LED headlights with adaptive lighting, the signature corona rings are not circular anymore but more angular in line with the new 3 and 6 Series. The headlight also gets a separate LED strip that is both a parking light as well as an indicator. The kidney grille has also been revised - instead of the previous 12 slats; the updated model now features nine. And at the rear, the roofline gets a slight tweak and there is a new chrome strip connecting the two reflectors on the bumper.
The 7 has always been known for space and comfort, and the new model improves on these aspects. The front leather seats are newly designed and are offer better support and comfort. The rear ones are similar to the previous model and continue to get dedicated controls for the iDrive system. The iDrive system itself has moved to the latest generation version, which we have already seen on the new 3 Series. The new system receives new features and is more user-friendly. Moreover, the rear entertainment package is now offered as standard and includes a 9.2-inch monitor fitted behind the front seats. It also doubles up as the menu for the iDrive.
In addition, the entire range of 7 Series models get updated engines with additional power and better economy. All the engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission (the outgoing model featured a 6-speed unit), and come with fuel saving techniques like auto start-stop, brake energy regeneration and the ECO PRO driving mode as standard. The ECO PRO mode changes gear shift points and optimises the climate control for better efficiency.
There are three petrol engines and one diesel engine available, namely BMW 760Li with a V12 engine, the BMW 740Li with the new BMW TwinPower turbo six-cylinder engine and the BMW 750Li with an updated V8 unit. The only diesel model, the 730Ld features a six-cylinder engine and is assembled locally while all the petrol variants are imported as CBUs. We tested the diesel 730Ld. The 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine now puts out 258PS of max power at 4000rpm and 560Nm of peak torque is available from just 1500rpm, marking an improvement of 14PS and 20Nm, respectively. The engine is also more refined and silent now and the power delivery is more immediate and power packed. There is hardly any turbo lag either and cruising at triple digit speeds comes effortlessly.
The new 8-speed torque converter transmission the engine is coupled to shifts quickly and seamlessly. Surprisingly, there are no paddle shifters but one can shift manually using the gear lever. There are four driving modes to choose from - ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. The various modes change the character of the car by altering the steering response, the gear shift points, the throttle response and the ESP characteristics. We tested the car in Sport+ mode which cuts the traction control, makes the engine hold on to the revs longer and higher, and reduces the shift points to the minimum. The resultant 0-100kmph time we managed in this mode was 6.87s while the quarter mile took 14.94s; both figures being almost a second quicker than of the outgoing model. The top speed of 250kmph though remains unchanged. In terms of efficiency, the car returned 9.4kmpl in town and stretched to an impressive 16.2kmpl on the highway translating to an overall figure of 11.1kmpl.
The 7 Series is known for its agile handling despite its size, a 50:50 weight distribution between the axles helps achieve this. The updated model retains the same dynamic character. Despite a large footprint, the car feels more like a smaller car to drive around town. It offers an impressive ride thanks to the adaptive suspension and higher profile 18-inch run-flat tyres. On undulated surfaces and potholes, the car glides without complain and at higher speeds, the car feels planted with the electric steering weighing up well and offering good feedback.
In terms of features the car comes standard with a new-generation navigation package, 6 park assist cameras, a glass roof; massage function for rear seats and folding rear tables among many others. One can also opt for a colour head-up display and night vision from the options list. The car is available in eleven exterior shades and the 730Ld is priced at Rs 92.9 lakh, ex-showroom, pan-India (reduced by approximately Rs 4 lakh from the outgoing car).
This is the last update for the F02 platform till its successor arrives sometime in 2015. The Audi A8L though is a lot newer and offers a better package. The S-class meanwhile is set for a generation change soon and is expected to take the pinnacle of luxury motoring to an entirely new level. But, before that happens, it's time for BMW to cash-in till the sun shines