2023 BMW 7 Series First Drive
What is Series 7?
BMW has been making its biggest waves of late with performance-focused electrified M or i models, but it hasn’t forgotten about its core products. The 2023 BMW 7 Series Sedan has been redesigned from the ground up with new styling both inside and out. The infotainment and navigation system has been redesigned and the 7 is now available with BMW’s hands-free highway driving assistance. There are also significant changes under the hood, as the six- and eight-cylinder engines are now mild hybrids. Pour one for the V12, but a plug-in hybrid is coming in 2023. Oh, and BMW is launching an all-electric variant, though we’ll review that car, the BMW i7, separately.
We’ve had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the 7 Series and the i7, and it’s both iterative and different from what’s come before. But given the success of the recently redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-Class, changes were in store.
What’s under the hood of the 7 Series?
The 2023 7 Series will be available with two powertrains when it launches later this year. A third powertrain – a plug-in hybrid – will arrive in 2023. The 740i is driven by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six and is mated to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system for reduced fuel consumption. Total rear-wheel power is listed at 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims the 740i can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. The 760i xDrive replaces the turbocharged straight-six with a turbocharged V8. All-wheel drive is also included, which better manages the V8’s 536 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission that houses a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.
A fully electric variant of the 7 Series will debut with this generation. BMW calls it the i7, and it’s reviewed separately.
How does Series 7 work?
The 7 Series has long been one of the most capable sedans in its class, with generally sportier driving dynamics than cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, Lexus LS and Genesis G90. We’ve only had a chance to try the V8-powered model, but it certainly still has some of that sports-sedan feel.
The new 7 Series is a big car, but it hides its size and weight well. The engine is smooth and powerful, and the exhaust note is beefy without being obnoxious. There’s more than enough power for everyday driving, so passing or merging takes little effort. If you need to downshift, the new eight-speed automatic transmission is quick and responsive, and the built-in 48-volt mild-hybrid system smooths out shifts and improves the engine’s automatic stop-start function.
While there are notable exceptions, modern BMWs don’t offer the level of steering feedback you’ll find in their predecessors. The steering is quick, but unless you have it in Sport mode it’s a bit light and lifeless. Switching to Sport adds weight to the steering, so the car feels a bit more direct, but there’s still some disconnect. Sport mode also sharpens the suspension, improves throttle response and speeds up shifting. In other modes, steering is light and rear-axle steering (standard on the 760i xDrive and optional on the 740i) tightens the turning radius to make parking the car easier.
How comfortable is the Series 7?
Luxury sedans like the 7 Series need to be as comfortable to drive as they are fun to drive. Every 7 Series model is equipped with an adaptive air suspension. It adjusts to road conditions and riding modes, lowering and stiffening in Sport or being more supple in Relaxed. The ride is fairly smooth and soaks up most bumps well. It still doesn’t smooth out imperfections as well as the S-Class, but neither driver nor passengers should complain about spending time inside the 7 Series.
How is the interior of the Series 7?
The 7 Series cabin is the most impressive we’ve ever seen in a BMW sedan. The interior environment combines glass, open-pore wood (we suggest staying away from dazzling shiny trim) and, of course, leather that elevates the design far above any other BMW. The stainless steel elements of the doors are elaborately detailed and sit on illuminated speakers.
At night, the 7 Series shows off its intricate ambient lighting elements, including the full-width backlit instrument panel that BMW calls the Interaction Bar. The interaction bar integrates simple climate controls in the section below the curved touchscreen (most are located in the touchscreen), while the buttons that automatically open and close the doors are located on the outer edges less. more distant. It’s smooth, but can be hard to see in bright light. The center console houses the iDrive infotainment system controller and drive selector (both in glass), as well as a button-less gloss black multifunction control panel.
There’s more on the back too. While amenities like pillow-style headrests, position-adjustable seats and a wireless charger are present, they’re also expected. However, the small 5.5-inch touchscreens on the door handles are quite unusual. They adjust the required seat, in addition to controlling the heating and ventilation functions, the individual climate zone, the ambient lighting, the audio system and the available Theater Screen entertainment screen (more on this later).
In terms of passenger space, the new 7 Series is slightly longer and wider than its predecessor, and headroom is said to be improved. There’s plenty of room to stretch out in both rows, even for taller passengers.
How is the 7 series technology?
The 7 Series features some of BMW’s latest in-car tech and driver aids, although we’ve seen much of it before on models like the BMW iX. Up front is a large curved screen that houses a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch central touchscreen, the latter featuring BMW’s latest infotainment system, dubbed iDrive 8. .
The latest iteration of iDrive packs an all-new interface that controls most of the car’s main functions, from navigation to climate control. BMW removed most of the buttons from the car’s interior steering wheel included. It looks clean, but that means using the touchscreen for everything. It’s responsive but cumbersome at times, and we used voice commands a few times because we couldn’t find the button for something. Voice commands are good, but they feel like a crutch.
Audio options include a standard 18-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system or a 36-speaker surround sound system with speakers built into the headrests and ceiling. Perhaps inspired by its rival at Mercedes-Benz, the 7 Series is one of the first BMWs with an augmented reality overlay for the navigation system. With a destination programmed into the navigation, the image from the front camera will be projected onto the instrument cluster, with floating arrows showing you where to turn. It’s a neat feature that builds on the high-tech ethos of the Series 7, and it makes you want to use the built-in navigation rather than just using your phone.
This high-tech feeling could be best illustrated by the new optional cinema screen. A 31-inch widescreen display with 8K resolution unfolds just below the panoramic sunroof to provide a wealth of entertainment options for rear passengers. It has built-in Amazon Fire TV and can stream ultra-high definition content using the Series 7’s built-in 5G modem. It’s impressive in person, though the screen might be a bit too close for some passengers’ comfort. . It also doesn’t fit a standard ratio, so everything you watch may be cut or letterboxed. When deployed it also renders the rear window useless, and the Series 7 oddly doesn’t offer a digital rear-view mirror. Get used to using those side mirrors, folks.
Many improvements have also been made to the advanced driver aids on board. The forward collision mitigation system, for example, can now recognize oncoming traffic and brake to avoid a collision. The Parking Assistant Professional feature that debuted on the iX also makes an appearance here, allowing drivers to teach the vehicle how to enter or exit difficult driveways. Drivers can also enjoy semi-automated driving at higher speeds. The available Highway Assistant feature allows drivers to go hands-free at speeds of up to 80mph – twice the previous speed limit permitted by BMW. You can also tap to change lanes, though you should always be ready to take over. The car will watch your face to make sure you are paying attention.
All of these features and more come together in a 7 Series with technology that has advanced by leaps and bounds over the older model.