The 2011 BMW 7-Series Sedan line includes the widest range ever in its 23 year history, comprising a total of 15 models. Along with the 750i xDrive, the 750Li xDrive, and the 760Li introduced for MY2010, the 7-Series line now includes the first 6-cylinder 7-Series offered in the US since 1992. Finally, the BMW Alpina B7 returns on the new BMW 7-Series platform as four models: Standard and long wheelbase versions as well as in rear wheel drive and xDrive versions. The B7 will again set the benchmark in terms of performance, refinement, technology, luxury and exclusivity.
As an exciting example of its EfficientDynamics engineering philosophy, BMW announced the North American debut of the 7-Series with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine. Featuring BMW's award-winning inline-6 engine (N54 HP) that produces V-8 power with six-cylinder fuel efficiency, the new BMW 740i and BMW 740Li achieve a remarkable balance of power, efficiency, and sporty driving dynamics.
The 2011 750i and 750Li are the first 7-Series models ever to be offered with BMW's highly lauded xDrive All-Wheel-Drive system. BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system has been enhanced for these models to ensure that the 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive set a new benchmark for handling characteristics among all-wheel drive sedans. BMW's Integrated Chassis Management is able to identify and limit understeer by shifting torque rearward (up to 80% to the rear axle) while preserving the stability for which xDrive has been so widely recognized.
As a second step, the Integrated Chassis Management system can then apply a precise combination of throttle and individual rear-corner braking in order to maintain perfectly neutral handling in a corner - regardless of road surface conditions.
These key enhancements to xDrive ensure that the 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive will be two of the most nimble all-wheel drive sedans available in any vehicle segment.
For driving enthusiasts, model year 2010 also marks the debut of the M Sport Package for all 7-Series models. The M Sport Package includes an M steering wheel, lift-reducing aerodynamic kit, Active Roll Stabilization (RWD only), Shadowline trim, Anthracite headliner and 19" wheels with ultra-high performance tires. 20" wheels with ultra-high performance tires are available at additional cost. Carbon Black Metallic exterior paint is available with the new M Sport Package.
With the introduction of the 2010 760Li, BMW raised the standard for maximum, performance and luxury in this premium class. The new BMW 760Li Sedan has taken over the top position within BMW's model portfolio, delivering the highest level of driving refinement in its segment.
The heart and foundation of this exceptional new vehicle comes from an all-new BMW V12 engine. Developed as a completely-new engine from the ground up, the latest BMW V12 is a masterpiece of modern engine technology. 535 horsepower comes at an engine speed of 5,250 rpm, with maximum torque of 550 lb-ft from just 1,500 rpm.
Combined with a newly developed 8-speed automatic transmission, this BMW V12 offers unparalleled driving refinement and premium driving dynamics through its ability to convert seemingly unlimited power reserves into action with amazing responsiveness. The details of the 760Li are described in a separate release.
Finally, the BMW Alpina B7 represents the second generation of ALPINA automobiles based on the BMW 7-Series to be offered in the US. The first BMW Alpina B7 was offered as a limited edition for the 2007 and 2008 model years. Newly interpreted and based on the current BMW 7-Series platform, the B7 will again set the benchmark in terms of performance, refinement, technology, luxury and exclusivity.
Yielding exquisite levels of power and torque from the twin-turbocharged 4.4 liter V8, and in conjunction with the electronically-adjustable suspension with active roll stabilization, the new B7 promises to offer a spectrum of driving experiences so broad as to be unheard of in this class of automobiles. The evolution of the traditional 20-spoke 21" ALPINA CLASSIC wheels underline the fresh design language found throughout the B7 and impart it a distinctive appearance and powerful stance. The details of the BMW Alpina B7 are described in a separate release.
Intelligent Lightweight Design means maximum agility, efficiency and solidity
Thanks to BMW's Intelligent Lightweight design process, the body structure of the new 7-Series benefits from both weight efficiency and solidity. Targeted applications of higher- and highest-strength steels, as well as, aluminum for numerous elements and components allowed BMW to achieve greater passive safety, yet reduce the structure's weight. Compared to the predecessor's body shell, the new models are approximately 20% more rigid in torsion - which, in turn, positively influences driving dynamics. Expressed another way, the so-called "lightweight index," which quantifies torsional rigidity relative to the vehicle footprint and weight, has been improved significantly.
Novel in the 7-Series' market segment is its combination of a steel main structure and bonded aluminum roof: The light-metal roof saves approximately 7 kg/15 lb., and because this savings is at the vehicle's highest point, lowers the center of gravity and further contributes to vehicle dynamics. The doors are also aluminum, saving a further 48.5 lb. As on the predecessor, the hood and front fenders are also aluminum, making for a significant contribution to these automobiles' overall weight efficiency.
Standard Electronic Damping Control and Driving Dynamics Control
Electronic Damping Control controls the shock absorbers to any level of firmness between their softest and firmest settings, precisely adapting to road conditions and the driver's demands at any given moment. Ride firmness is always at the optimum level for current road conditions, vehicle speed and the load the vehicle is carrying (again, passengers and luggage). On smooth roads, the shocks are kept at the softest appropriate setting; in corners, they are instantly adjusted to a firmer, just-right level. And when the vehicle encounters any irregular road surface, they adjust to the optimum firmness level to control ride motions, preserve riding comfort and maintain adhesion to the road.
Electronic Damping Control is standard on all 7-Series models, developed to be integrally combined with the also standard Driving Dynamics Control. Driving Dynamics Control provides the driver choices of settings for shock-absorber firmness, transmission shift characteristics, engine-throttle response and power-steering assist: Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. In addition, the traction-and-stability system Dynamic Stability Control continues with a Dynamic Traction Control setting (reduced traction intervention) that improves start-up on snow and is suitable for track-style driving.
All 750 models run on 18-in. alloy wheels, carrying all-season run-flat tires of 245/50R-18 dimensions. 19-in. wheels and performance tires with staggered sizes (245/45 front and 275/40 rear) are available as a stand-alone option or as part of the optional M Sport Package. 20-in. wheels and performance tires are optional with the M Sport Package.
New, advanced option: Integral Active Steering
Offered in 2011 as a stand-alone option, BMW's Integral Active Steering electronically varies the steering ratio (the number of degrees the steering wheel must be turned to achieve a 1Ã‹Å¡ steering angle at the front wheels) according to vehicle speed and other driving conditions. At low speeds and in parking maneuvers this ratio is decreased significantly, resulting in remarkable maneuverability and agility; as vehicle speed increases, so does the ratio, reaching a "normal" level at about 75 mph.
Integral Active Steering also includes rear-wheel steering capability. Via a steering spindle and an eccentrically positioned servo motor, the rear wheels can be steered up to a maximum of 3Ã‹Å¡. At low speeds, they are steered oppositely to the front wheels; depending on vehicle speed, the turning circle can be reduced by up to 27.5 inches - which, combined with the front wheels' reduced steering ratio, dramatically improves maneuverability. Varying the rear-wheel steering according to vehicle speed, the system steers them in the same direction as the fronts at higher speeds, which enhances the more important attribute of stability at these speeds. A further, and perhaps less expected, benefit is that the rear-wheel steering reduces the yaw rate in a given road-speed maneuver, which will be perceived by rear-seat passengers as an improvement in riding comfort.
As a result, this unique combination of Active Steering at the front and rear wheels equally benefits both comfort and agility. Yet, there's even more: enhanced stability in braking. Linked with the sensors of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Integral Active Steering can also make a targeted steering correction to hinder any loss of directional control under braking on a road surface that's uneven from one side to the other.
Secure handling via powerful brakes and comprehensive DSC functions
Yet another active-safety advance is found in the 7-Series' brake system. Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes are a long-standard feature on all U.S. BMW models, but until now the additional refinement of aluminum/cast-iron brake rotors has been reserved for the highest-performing 5 and 6 Series models.
In this patented construction, the brake rotor (disc) consists of two pieces: the high-carbon cast-iron outer portion, which functions conventionally as the surface onto which the brake pads grip to slow or stop the vehicle; and an aluminum "hat" in the center, which mounts the rotor to the vehicle. The concept's advantages include reduced unsprung weight, complementing the aluminum suspension in benefiting ride comfort and road adhesion.
Reduced rotor deformation under hard braking is the other benefit. This means less tendency of the brakes to vibrate when hot, and reduced likelihood of rotors cracking under extreme heat conditions.
The brake system is also supported by the comprehensive functions of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). These include antilock braking (ABS), Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Cornering Brake Control and Dynamic Brake Control; each of these functions contributes to vehicle stability or to braking effectiveness. Other braking enhancements via DSC include Brake Fade Compensation, which compensates for loss of braking power (fading) under hard or repeated brake use; Brake Standby, which snugs the brake pads up to the rotors if the driver suddenly removes his foot from the accelerator pedal to reduce the effective lag time in applying the brakes; and Brake Drying, which brings the pads to the rotors periodically during wet-weather driving.
Beyond these extensive functions, still others involve the use of brakes to achieve desired operational and stability goals. For example, a new Electronic Limited-slip Differential function comes into play in vigorous driving when DSC is completely de-activated. By appropriate application of only the rear brakes while cornering, DSC simulates a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential. This has the effect of better apportioning power between the two rear wheels and thus improving traction in this driving situation.
Intelligent driving dynamics via Integrated Chassis Management and FlexRay
All such driving-dynamics functions are coordinated and overseen by BMW's Integrated Chassis Management. Via sensing and analysis of a multitude of inputs, this powerful electronic control scheme applies and governs the interaction of these functions to ensure maximum stability. Under rapidly changing conditions, such as changing road surface, spontaneous steering input, abrupt acceleration or sudden braking, ICM reacts with ultra-quick and ultra-precise interventions via the DSC actuators, Electronic Damping Control, and - where present - Integral Active Steering and Active Roll Stabilization.
For this extremely sensitive and powerful networking of functions, the new 7-Series employs FlexRay data-transmission technology. Developed by a consortium of which BMW is a leading member, FlexRay achieves heretofore unheard-of communication speed, some 20 times that previously possible. In the 7-Series, up to 16 electronic control units can be networked; in no other current automobile can longitudinal, lateral and vertical vehicle motions be so precisely monitored and influenced. BMW is the first motor-vehicle manufacturer to offer FlexRay technology in production vehicles; it appeared first in the current X5, and is also employed in the X6.
Driving Dynamics Control
Adjacent to the E-Shift lever on the center console is the Driving Dynamics Control selector. DDC provides four settings that tailor vehicle characteristics to different drivers, one driver's different moods, driving conditions - or all of the above. The settings are Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus; the following vehicle-dynamics parameters are affected:
Shock-absorber firmness (within the Electronic Damping Control system)
Another control in this area affects Dynamic Stability Control (BMW's all-encompassing stability- and traction-control system) alone. A brief push on this button switches the system to Dynamic Traction Control, in which DSC's intervention threshold is raised; one effect of this setting is improved traction in deep snow. A long push on the same button de-activates DSC altogether, though one function (antilock braking) is always active.
The 7-Series has an electrohydraulic parking brake rather than the customary mechanical one; the driver sets and releases the brake with a button on the console. An Auto Hold function, which automatically holds the vehicle at a standstill and thereby eliminates "creep" when stopped in gear, is also available via an adjacent button.
iDrive, 4th generation: more intuitive operation, expanded functions
8 years ago, the predecessor 7-Series initiated a new direction in the control of vehicle features and functions with the introduction of iDrive. Using a multi-menu color display and a mouse-like controller usable by driver and passenger alike, a potentially crowded landscape of buttons and knobs was supplanted by a computer-logic control path. Now, the 4th generation of iDrive builds upon that pioneering development while making it more natural, intuitive, simpler and elegant.
An overarching attribute of iDrive was the separation of control (via the console controller) and display (the centrally placed iDrive monitor). This basic arrangement remains; the controller has been further developed and the display is larger: fully 10.2 in. vs. 8.8 in. previously.
Positioned at the same level as the instrument panel, the new control display sets higher standards for logical, readily understood menus and attractive graphics. The controller has been refined for comfortable, intuitive selection and activation of functions via standardized turn, push and tilt motions, while being augmented with more direct-selection keys.
Convincing functionality, satisfying to use: controller with direct-selection keys
Benefiting from the newest biomechanics R&D, the state-of-the-art controller operates with tactile precision and clearly structured motions. New control elements, menu schemes and graphic representations in the control display become evident upon first use, yet user appreciation grows over the longer term. A graphic depiction of the controller in the display itself helps orient the user to the next control step; the rotation, pressing and tipping motions generally correspond to those of a computer mouse.
Thus interpreted, rotation of the controller takes the user through menu selections; pressing it makes the choice. Tilting the controller to the left or right effects navigation through various menu levels. Via clear graphic organization in the form of stacked layers and onscreen depiction of controller movements, the user enjoys highly intuitive navigation. All menus are structured according to a consistent scheme, so that one is almost immediately at ease; menus are broad so that the user can view relatively numerous options without switching to another level. Also, functions are arranged so that in longer-term use the most important options are reached more rapidly.
An additional new refinement is four direct-select keys placed directly next to the controller, for the most frequently used menus. These allow quick selection of CD, radio, phone and navigation menus, and are augmented by three further keys of general utility: one takes the user directly to the start menu (MENU), one to the most recently active menu (BACK), and the third (OPTION) presents various options within the current area. As a result, searches are likely to be shorter, or unnecessary.
Familiar and proven, yet now more useful: Programmable Memory Keys
An iDrive enhancement recently introduced in other BMW models now comes to the 7 and represents a further user convenience: Programmable Memory Keys. Lined up above the audio controls, these eight keys allow the user to store favorite or most frequently used functions (radio stations, phone numbers, navigation destinations as an example) on various keys and recall them instantly. The stored functions can be as specific and detailed as a navigation map in the preferred scale, an audio balance setting or a selected chapter in the Integrated Owner's Manual (about which more later). And because the keys are sensitive not just to being pressed, but also to being merely touched by the user's finger, one can get the stored function shown on the control display by lightly touching the key. If it's the right one, the user need only press the key and it's there, ready to use.