review: Colin Sharp | photography: Carla Nunes | price as tested: R2.3 million

Decades ago I owned the first 733i – in metallic rust with beige velvet-pile upholstery – later came a 735i, model 3, in white with black leather. Both are fondly recalled as spacious sedans: rapid, comfortable and ably powered by smooth, silent 6-cylinder engines. Matters have progressed since and more recently to the sixth generation BMW 7 Series, reinforcing the definition of luxury and performance for the Bavarian brand.

So, the premium 7 Series has been upgraded to offer class-first technology and fresh levels of chassis refinement; for the current flagship 750Li model this represents a tour de force.

From the outside this is patently a 7 Series, the design being evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Key to the big sedan’s on-road presence is a new vertical kidney grille that integrates a porthole for the night vision camera (now standard on both 750i models) and an active grille that can open and close automatically to improve aerodynamics.

Also new is BMW’s Laserlight technology as standard. This system utilises high-intensity LEDs that unify to offer a viewing range of almost double the most powerful LED headlights. Range increases from 300m to 600m and the lights consume 30 percent less power as a result of bundling a set of high-intensity LEDs onto a fluorescent phosphorus substance.

The structure of the new 7 Series has undergone major weight reduction treatment. Exciting technology – dubbed BMW Carbon Core – signifies that the big sedan uses the most amount of carbon-fibre of any mass-produced car on the market. It employs a hybrid of carbon-fibre, steel and aluminium to provide strength, reducing weight by more than 40kg. In total, the sixth-generation 7 Series is now around 130kg lighter than the fifth generation.

Under the bonnet of the 750Li is a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces a healthy 330kW of power and 650Nm of torque. The engine is mated to an incredibly smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, which helps drive fuel consumption down to a mind-boggling 8.3l/100km on the combined cycle. Push the starter button and the 750Li comes alive with a quiet burble and the driver has the option of selecting from four drive modes – Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro and Adaptive. Each mode can be customised further by selecting individual settings and the Adaptive mode provides an intelligent response programme that will vary the drive modes depending on driving behaviour. On poor surfaces, in Comfort setting, the adaptive dampers relax to provide a smooth ride that is akin to that of a Rolls-Royce.

For the full article see Habitat #259 May / June 2017 | Subscribe now