What is it?
The BMW 7 Series has got a ‘facelift’ in the truest sense of the word. The Seven’s new face is home to what is the most talked-about grille in the recent history of grilles. It’s larger in every way, but this? There are barbecue grilles smaller than what’s on the new 7 Series! Sure, Mercedes, Audi and Lexus, all have much larger grilles but the increase in size here is just huge. Big and bling works in China and America, the 7 Series’ largest markets, and that is why the refreshed Seven looks the way it does. The grille is in-your-face alright but after the initial shock you start to get used to it.
The grille might be the focal point but it’s just one element of a fairly comprehensive facelift. The raised and re-contoured bonnet adds the right ‘volume’ to the imposing new face, and we thought the slimmer, more angular new headlamps just look smashing; versions with BMW Laserlight (they have a high beam range of 560m) get cool blue detailing in the cluster. BMW’s stylists have also done a fabulous job with the front bumpers. They are not only more angular but, on this Design Pure Excellence trim, they also come characterised by body coloured panels that cover the outer air intakes. The panels act as deflectors and channel air to the air curtains at the sides. Also, part of the aero package are flaps behind the grille that only open when cooling air is needed, as well as restyled vertical ‘breathers’ at the sides that optimise air flow out of the wheel arches.
The 7 Series is a large, large car and chrome highlights at the base of the doors only accentuate its massive 3.2m wheelbase. There is a touch too much of the shiny stuff at the rear, though, notably in the region of the exhausts. Still, I do like what they’ve done at the back. The slimmer tail-lights, their 3D form and the new LED light strip that links the brake lights give the tail a welcome refresh.
What’s it like on the inside?
The updates to the Seven’s interior are not as far-reaching as those on the outside. Then again, with as many as five sizeable high-res screens and even a touch panel for the climate control system, the G11 7 Series’ cabin wasn’t one to look dated any time soon either. What has changed, is the user interface. The iDrive system, for instance, can now be customised with more shortcuts and what’s really cool is that the car graphics in the settings menus are no longer in a generic colour but match the actual exterior body shade. The 7 Series also gets what BMW calls Intelligent Assistant, a voice command function to operate features and even answer queries on car status. However, the system does get tripped on Indian accents. Likewise, the temperamental gesture control is unlikely to be your go-to choice to operate the infotainment system.
Also revised is the digital instrument cluster that bears BMW’s new format where the speedo and counter-clockwise-oriented tachometer flank a large navigation readout. BMW loyalists might not take readily to the new layout but, frankly, typical 7 Series buyers seated at the back will be oblivious to this change.
What won’t be lost on the Seven’s crorepati clientele is the quality inside. There’s a richness to the leather upholstery, the aluminium buttons look exquisite and everything is in keeping with the car’s price tag. The front seats are wonderfully padded too, but for the full 7 Series experience you need to be the one stretched-out at the back. The standard heated, ventilated, massaging and multi-way adjustable rear seats are a great starting point and our test car’s ‘Executive Lounge Seating’ takes comfort to first-class levels. At the touch of a button, the front passenger seat slides forward, a footrest extends out and the left side rear seat reclines for optimal comfort. It’s brilliant. Of the other things, the 7.0-inch Samsung tablet to control rear seat functions has been simplified too and there’s always the 10.1-inch display to catch up on movies.
What’s it like to drive?
The chauffeur-driven will be happy to note an improvement in rolling refinement. BMW has enhanced sound insulation in the wheel wells, B-pillar and back rests, and it sure has brought down road and wind noise. The air suspension is also as pliant as ever, albeit with less float at higher speeds than what we remember of the older 7 Series.
The driving experience is a revelation in its own right. A petrol 740i and a petrol-electric hybrid 745Le xDrive will also be part of the range, though it’s the popular 730Ld we’ve featured here today. The 3.0 straight-six diesel continues as is, but the 8-speed gearbox has got an update. The 730Ld is quiet and pleasant for the most part but it’s also quick to change character should you press down harder on the accelerator. You can feel the engine’s 265hp and 620Nm of torque, and there’s an exciting urgency with which it delivers power, especially in Sport mode. And if only for academic interest, you should know there’s fun to be had in the corners too, with a level of agility you wouldn’t associate with a car so large.
Should I buy one?
The refreshed 7 Series has been priced at par with the outgoing model. Prices start at Rs 1.22 crore for the 730Ld DPE, the 730Ld DPE Signature featured here costs Rs 1.31 crore and the 730Ld in M Sport trim comes in at Rs 1.34 crore. Reasons to be interested in the 7 Series include the subtle improvements to refinement, the excellent overall comfort and tidier handling. Some buyers might take a fancy to the new grille and the Seven’s bolder new persona too.
Whether or not the 7 Series is the comfiest limousine is something only a comparison will reveal. For now, the simple fact is that there are few better modes of transport for the journey from office to home.