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2016 BMW 7 Series Touch Points From Thom Cannell +VIDEO

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2016 BMW 7-Series

SEE ALSO: 2016 BMW 7 Series Specs, Pricing and Options
SEE ALSO: First Drive 2016 BMW 7 Series Prototype By Henny Hemmes
SEE ALSO:New 2016 BMW 7 Series Unveiled in Munich - Henny Hemmes At-Event Report +VIDEO

By Thom Cannell
Senior Editor
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

There is no photograph collection, no running shots of the 2016 BMW sprinting down a cobblestone lane, no thrilling image of BMW's new flagship on the autobahn. Those will come later, after the October 24 sale date in the US, after the launch in Frankfurt September 17-24. Instead we offer glimpse into how this technology transport makes you feel, what it offers, how it feels to the touch.


To begin, the car uses a mix of carbon fiber placed high, high strength steel inserted where needed, and aluminum where it achieves weight saving. For this vehicle, using rigid carbon fiber at the top of the vehicle lowers its center of gravity, bettering vehicle dynamics. Aluminum at the chassis lowers unsprung weight to increase nimbleness. So it remains a BMW at its core, a driver's car though with all the technology and voluptuous comfort you might loose sight of that.

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True, the exterior features LED headlamps, LED tail lamps, even hidden LED flood lights beneath the rocker panels to light your entry. The famous kidney grille now uses active shutters to improve aerodynamics, opening for cooling, closing to better the flow of air around the car. Run-flat tires (Bridgestone Potenzas) leave the trunk so hugely inviting we foresee an action-adventure film with bodies, a machine gun/cannon, perhaps both. Surely it will hold a clubhouse of golf clubs.

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It's inside where all of the technology is housed, and we think it much improved. It serves, rather than demands. For one instance you can use five gestures to do things like accept or reject a phone call, respectively a point or a swipe. You can draw a clockwise circle in the air to raise volume, turning the other way lowers it. If you are at a stoplight and need to navigate, draw on the screen, but if you roll forward resume input using a familiar (to BMW owners) rotary control. Or you can draw on the smooth top as if it were a touch screen.

Let's say you want to control the air conditioning, seat heat or cooling, or the fan speed. Slide a finger smoothly along the panel—you'll feel definite raised separations—and each control illuminates as you slide. Repeated touches on a control raise or lower heat, cooling, or fan speed. Temperature controls are nice rotary knobs flanking that line.

Another innovation, one we've been waiting to see in the wild, is an integration of the on-board navigation system with its powertrain. What this means to you is that, when driving, the car can downshift as it perceives a hill or tight curve ahead, providing better control over its driving dynamics.


The 8-speed transmission can, if you wish, learn your driving habits and deliver either aggressive character, or one more restrained.

The new 7 offers a Head Up Display that BMW says is 75% larger, showing speed, speed limit, and navigation. Other technologies include forward collision warning, active lane keeping that will secure you between the lines, or in the event of impending side swipe, move you away. There's a 360° view around the car available on the nav screen, one you can control with gestures or hone in on a single area, and active parking sensors that will stop you from slamming into a pole or person even if your foot is nowhere near the brake.

So, for this new 7 Series, innovation and 25 new technologies, many first-to-market-13 of them-are keys to perceived success. Not to say performance has been forgotten; the new 7 leaps to 60 in 4.3 seconds, faster than its Mercedes rival.

Given that many of the premier autos now sell over 50% of their cars in China, and that luxury is a moving target, BMW significantly improved their 7 Series cabin Elegance defines the interior, its execution including visual and tactile qualities. The 7 Series was luxurious, now it moves into the realm of ultra-luxury (where luxury will be next year and entry-lux in five) with definable additions like selectable LED accent lighting. It, unlike familiar footwell lights, use accent strips and down-glow to outline your choice of wood door trim, and the accents run across the dash without creating a distraction. We noted choices of: all sunset, all blue sky, all forest, or cloud white above, color below. While it sounds garish, it is not.

Rear seats offer twin 10.2 screens, the ability to recline, and on the passenger side a foot rest. All of these features, and interior lighting (more in a moment), seat massage choices, and much more are commanded through an inset 7" touch screen that is a removable tablet. Other interior features include scented, ionized air supply, a standard panoramic sunroof with a version that is engraved with 15,000 points that, when side lit, sparkle in colors chosen for the occasion. Another change is a switch to upscale audio supplier Bowers & Wilkins, a 14000 Watt (unless we heard wrong) amplifier with 11 speakers that use the best B&W has to offer. Speakers in prominent view are internally illuminated. It is an honestly audiophile quality system.

There is, of course, much more to be said later, when we've had more than one hour with the car. And if you're wondering about an M version, there is such a thing, though it is more trim than power (look for Alpina to do that!). What the M designation brings is signature 30" wheels, a choice of black or natural chrome, and glowing M-badged sill plates. We did learn that the 7 will be equipped with two axle air suspension with automatic lowering over 75 mph, or when in Sport mode.

After the Frankfort Auto Show we should know even more.