The luxury saloon segment has ballooned over the years thanks to the fact that there have been no shortage of people with deep pockets though there is no doubt that the Germans own this turf. The Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series are each the flagship saloons for their brands and these cars are not built to a price but built with the simple goal of being one of the best cars in the world with new technology, more luxury and even better refinement with every new generation.
The BMW 7 Series though always had the distinction of being the driver's favourite with its frankly amazing dynamics and after driving one we can confirm that but there is more to the 7 Series than that as some months back BMW had given it an update with some crucial changes which we will talk about in detail below.
I do not need to tell you that the BMW 7 Series has presence as the photos amply display that fact. Cars like these are not meant to be objects of beauty but ones that exude power and there is no better way to turn up in a board meeting than in a 7 Series. The new 7 Series has some suble tweaks and a close look reveals them. For starters at the front what gets your attention is the full LED headlights (with BMW corona rings) and of course the ever growing BMW kidney grille which now has 9 slats instead of 12 in the previous version. Elsewhere you will see the indicators integrated into the lower section of the exterior mirrors and at the back there is an addition of a thin chrome strip.
Overall with a length of 5219 mm the 7 Series in long wheelbase form just drips class and suitably conveys the impression that the buyer wants to portray.
Step inside and even if you remove the logos you will realise that it's a BMW interior all right but a BMW interior with an added dose of luxury. This is the flagship saloon of BMW and the interior is the most important place in these cars so it has to be overflowing with tech along with private jet levels of luxury. Quality, fit and finish is just stunning- as you would expect at this price. The attention to detail lavished on this car also takes your breath away and overall this is indeed a special place to spend time in.
The changes done by BMW include a sprinkling of chrome on the inside, new instruments and newly designed seats. Speaking of seats the front seats are very comfy but the real deal is at the back where it feels like you are sitting in the middle of a football stadium. There are Individual seats available as an option too.
Cars like the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 series are crammed with the latest tech and the amount of gadgets that you get inside is a big part of their appeal. The new 7 Series is overflowing with it yet somehow it's all so easy and you soon get used to it so the latest updated iDrive system is easy to use and you do need a degree from MIT to understand it all.
For starters there is the 1,200-watt Bang & Olufsen High End Surround Sound System with 16 speakers, instruments with 3D Graphics, optional Rear Seat Entertainment package with a new 9.2-inch flatscreen monitor, DVD, navigation, power everything, park distance control front and rear, soft-close function for the doors, 4-zone climate control, electric glass roof and and...
We had the sensible 730Ld on test and it is easily the one we recommend though if you buy the 760Li with the 12-cylinder engine we will endorse that too. Having driven a 640d a longtime back I had forgotten how good these BMW diesel engines are which make the petrols redundant. Performance and power delivery is silky smooth.
What you get is 258 bhp and 560 Nm of torque plus coupled with the new fantastic 8-speed gearbox you have to look at the speedo/ blurring scenery sometimes to check just how fast you are going. It is thanks to this gearbox that cruising is more relaxed now something which the Bade Saheb will appreciate.
Along with the new gearbox the ride and refinement is very good too. The softer suspension works wonders here and I have to say the ride and refinement are top-notch. Obviously there is a lot of geekery inside and lot of stuff happening. To be simple there are three modes which are Comfort, Sport and Eco Pro. No prizes for guessing what the Eco Pro mode does and this is where throttle response is sacrificed a little bit for efficiency but I preferred the Sport mode because in Comfort it was too soft for my liking and even in Sport the ride is very good.
To tell you the truth the handling was shockingly good for such a heavy car. In Sport mode the speedo display changes and you can shift manually via the paddles. The steering feels direct and though it might be a bit too big for many, I found it perfect.
The new 7 Series with this engine is priced at around Rs 1 crore while the 760Li is around Rs 1.7 crore. That is a lot of money but then this is a lot of car. Finding fault with these cars is like finding a needle in a haystack. I always expected the 7 Series to mollycoddle with its comfort annd features but I did not expect it to drive so good. It is more discreet and classy than some of its rivals which I prefer. Overall the 7 Series is a brilliant car and if you are shopping for a limo this one should be on your list.
Words- Somnath Chatterjee Photography-Rajeev Bhendwal