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2010 BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid Review

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2919 BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid

2010 BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid
More power, less fuel


By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel
Amsterdam Bureau

THE HAGUE, October 28, 2009. In August, just a month before the official world premier at the Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW unveiled its first hybrid models, of the 7 Series and the 6. Both variants are not the first in the luxury segment (Lexus was with the 450H), but they are the most powerful. Contrary to the X6, that uses a hybrid system with two electric motors, the 7 ActiveHybrid has only one.

A first drive with the X6 AH will follow in the course of November, but this week the 7 AH was ready for its debut on the (Bavarian) roads. Due to a bicycle accident in my home town, that resulted in a.o. a broken bone in my hand, I could not drive the new variant of the 7 Series myself, but thanks to my friend and colleague Ian Kuah, I am able to report about it his experience behind the steering wheel.

The hybrid 7 Series has a combined maximum power of 455 hp and 516 Nm of torque, that enables it to spring from 0-62 mph in only five seconds. Mind you this is a hybrid..! Anyway, it is faster than the BMW 750i, that is equipped with the same 4.8-liter V-8 that is used in the hybrid system. The engine in the ActiveHybrid is combined with one electric motor of nearly 20 hp. The 7 Series AH is not only faster than its ‘normal’ brother, it is also 15 percent more fuel efficient.

The hybrid 7 has an automatic start/stop system, that stops the engine from idling when the car has come to a stand still. It allows operation however, of the car’s airco and ventilation through the lithium-ion battery pack, that consists of 35 cells and weighs some 50 lb. and that is placed in the luggage compartment.

The hybrid system has been developed in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz who uses it in the S400Hybrid.

The first drive with the economical 7 Series leaves a positive impression. The car feels very good, almost as fast as the V-12, but more agile – it is lighter.

Like the S400 Hybrid, the 7’s hybrid module adds just 165 lb. Unlike the Mercedes, the 7 is really sporty, fast and fun to drive. It makes the S400 feel more like a heavy weight.

As usual BMW does not say a word about sales expectations, but we heard that the ActiveHybrid is probably going to account for 10 per cent of the total 7 Series production. The car will come standard on 19”wheels and will get other items that are optional in the 750i.

In Europe the net extra cost for the hybrid system will be some 5,000 euro ($7377 U.S. Dollars). In Germany the 7 Series ActiveHybrid will hit the market on April 17 for 105,900 euro ($156,245 U.S. dollars), the long version will cost 112,500 euro($165,982 U.S. Dollars). It can be expected in the US in the beginning of May 2010.