All about the grille

The biggest talking point on the BMW X7 at launch was the enlarged kidney grille at the front – perhaps a strategic move to ready people for the similar treatment now meted out to the saloon car where the surface area of the grille has grown by 40%.

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Now available in South Africa in both long and short wheelbase format, the line-up of power units for the new BMW 7 Series has also been updated and includes a new eight-cylinder engine, a six-cylinder in-line unit and plug-in hybrid systems offering extended electric range.

The standard 7 Series (5 120 mm) and its long-wheelbase twin (5 260 mm) are both 22 millimetres longer than their respective predecessors. The new model’s width (1 902 mm) and height (1 467 mm / long-wheelbase version: 1 479 mm) remain unchanged.

The extensive design refresh at the front end – which now rises 50 millimetres taller at its foremost point – also sees more sharply cut contour lines on the bonnet and a larger BMW roundel. TThe grille teams up with the slimmer headlights and BMW Laserlight with a high-beam range of up to 560 metres can be specified as an alternative to the standard Adaptive LED Headlights.

The modified rear apron adopts the design language of the air intake trim at the front of the car. The integrated exhaust tailpipes have broader chrome surrounds, while the three-dimensional rear lights of the new BMW 7 Series are around 35 millimetres slimmer than on the outgoing car.

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The M Sport package, Design Pure Excellence line and new additions to the selection of exterior paint finishes and light-alloy wheels provide fresh scope for individualisation. Added to which, extended BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line is now available as an option in conjunction with the M Sport package.

Inside, Nappa leather with extended quilting has been added to the options list. The three-dimensional surface structure – encompassing large expanses of the front and rear seat cushions, backrests and the armrests integrated in the door trim and the centre console – gives the interior a sumptuous feel.

A feature of the newly designed standard leather steering wheel is the modified arrangement of the multifunction buttons. The likewise standard wireless charging tray for compatible mobile phones is now located just ahead of the cupholders.

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The latest version of the BMW Touch Command rear-seat control unit has updated hardware and BMW Operating System 7.0 software. The optional Rear-seat entertainment system now comes with a pair of 10-inch, full-HD touchscreen displays including Blu-ray player.

The choice of power units for the new BMW 7 Series includes petrol and diesel engines with six, eight and 12 cylinders, as well as an all-new plug-in hybrid drive system. Topping the range is the 6,6-litre V12 engine at the heart of the BMW M760Li xDrive, which produces 430 kW and now comes with a gasoline particulate filter to minimise emissions.

Meanwhile, the BMW 750Li xDrive features a newly developed V8 engine with 4,4-litre displacement and maximum output raised by 60 kW to 390 kW.

The plug-in hybrid system now employs a specially adapted six-cylinder in-line petrol engine and a more advanced high-voltage battery. As a result, the system can unleash a combined output of 290 kW with the Driving Experience Control switch set to SPORT mode.

The three models achieve an electric range between 50 kilometres and 58 kilometres.

The six-cylinder in-line diesel engine with a 3,0-litre displacement and up to four turbo-chargers rounds off the local drive system line-up for the new BMW 7 Series. The 195 kW engine for the BMW 730Ld represents the first step on the diesel ladder for the new BMW 7 Series.

All variants of the new BMW 7 Series feature adaptive suspension including electronically controlled dampers and two-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling. Among the options customers can choose from are Integral Active Steering and the Executive Drive Pro chassis system available for all models except the plug-in hybrid variant.

The Driving Assist Professional provides a comprehensive package of functions aimed at making driving as comfortable and safe as possible. They include Lane Keep Assist with active side collision protection, the evasion aid, the Cross Traffic Alert, Wrong-way warning systems, plus Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function.

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The standard-fitted Park Assist helps the driver with parking and manoeuvring. And it now also includes the Reversing Assistant, which can reverse the car for distances of up to 50 metres by steering it along exactly the same line it took when moving forward.

The new BMW 7 Series comes with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional as standard. This comprises a navigation and multimedia system, together with a fully digital, high-resolution instrument cluster behind the steering wheel with a screen diagonal of 12,3 inches and a Control Display measuring 10,25 inches across.

The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant is another element of the operating system and the digital companion can be activated with the spoken prompt ‘Hey BMW’ and helps the driver to use various vehicle functions – updated seamlessly by Remote Software Upgrade.

The driver and passengers can also use natural voice commands with the help of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant to activate the Experience Modes and the vitality and relaxation programmes, which offer need-based compositions of various functions – such as interior lighting, air-conditioning, fragrancing and shading, not to mention seat massage, heating and ventilation.

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Author: Colin Windell

Colin Windell is an apprentice retiree, petrolhead, rock music addict, lover of fine food and has been writing about cars for more than 40 years.

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