Mid-life refresh for luxury flagship saloon includes new powertrains and fresh looks.
BMW’s 7 Series has always been the Munich carmaker’s luxury flagship, though it now shares that role with the X7 SUV. Three years since the latest generation was launched the 2019 7 Series boasts a more assertive ‘face’ while under the skin there have been significant changes to the powertrain line-up and technology on offer.
From the front, the bold new grille design makes a dramatic and assertive statement. The new chromed kidney grille is some 40% bigger than that of the old 7 Series, bringing it into line with its SUV sibling the X7. The grille extends upwards into the sharply-contoured bonnet as well as down into the reprofiled front bumper. Less visible but still significant are the 5.1mm thicker side glass and the new front wings, which are designed to reduce buffeting at speed. New OLED rear lights and a new bumper complete the design changes.
Headline news for the 2019 BMW 7 Series is the new 745e iPerformance, a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid. This has a six-cylinder in-line petrol engine with a maximum output of 286hp as well as an electric motor rated at 113hp and a peak torque of 265Nm. Together, they achieve a combined 394hp, with a 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds and an EV range of over 30 miles. Other petrol units include the 750i’s 4.4-litre V8 that develops 523bhp and 553lb ft. Performance flagship is the M760Li xDrive powered by a 6.6-litre V12 engine developing 577bhp and 626lb ft, giving it a 0-62mph time of 4.1sec and 155mph top speed. Alternatively, there are three diesels, all powered by the same 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine but in different states of tune, starting with the 260bhp 730d, climbing to 316bhp for the 740d and topping out with the 750d; the latter’s quadruple turbos help it to a healthy 393bhp and 560lb. ft.
The interior features improvements to the materials and new connectivity functions. All new BMW 7 Series models are equipped as standard with a hands-free phone system including wireless charging, a choice of six colours for the LED ambient lighting plus the latest version of the BMW Touch Command unit. This removable tablet has a seven-inch screen and allows occupants to operate functions such as seat adjustment, interior lighting and climate control, as well as the infotainment, navigation and communication systems, from anywhere in the car. All the graphics and menu system, including the all-digital driver display, feature the latest BMW Operating System 7.0. Drivers also enjoy the benefits of the Driving Experience Control, which can shift the dynamic behaviour towards either comfort or sportiness. An updated Parking Assistant function now has a Reversing Assistant that’s able to back up the car by up to 50m along the course it drove in on.
All 2019 7 Series models have a plethora of safety features, including Dynamic Safety which intervenes in critical situations and brakes the car to a standstill after an accident. It also warns the driver if it detects signs of tiredness. Cruise Control with braking function also comes as standard, as does Parking Assistant Plus. Options include Night Vision with Pedestrian Recognition, Lane Control Assistant, Cross-traffic Warning and Preventive Pedestrian Protection.
Verdict: despite the continuing trend towards high luxury SUVs that has seen BMW itself introduce the X7, there are many CEOs, directors and senior managers for whom a luxury saloon remains the ideal mode of transport. The new 7 Series brings more tech, more efficiency and more options to the directors’ car park, together with a bold new look.