BMW 7-Series (G11/12)


Debut: 2015
Maker: BMW
Predecessor: 7-Series F01/02



 Published on 19 Nov 2015 All rights reserved. 

Entering the 6th generation, can the 7-Series finally beat Mercedes S-class?


Time passes so quickly. BMW 7-Series has entered the 6th generation with codename G11 (or G12 for LWB version). I still remember the first generation as it was a common sight on streets in my childhood. Today, the 7-Series is deemed to be a top-tier luxury car. Back then, it was more a large BMW than a luxury one. Over time, the 7er grew larger and larger, packing more and more luxury and even flamboyant features. Its role has changed, as does its character. Now most owners occupy the back seat and have their cars ordered in long wheelbase form. Has it forgotten the driver appeal that makes BMW special? I am curious to know…

Compared with the outgoing F01/02, the new car’s exterior design is only a small evolution. There is a certain degree of conservatism in its design, as in the case of most rivals, but it is not as graceful as the new Mercedes S-class or as sporty as Jaguar XJ. It has two styling derivatives, a more civilized design (dark cars pictured) and a sportier M-Sport trim (white car). None of them can be called beautiful or imaginative though. Sadly, under the leadership of Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW design is turning unremarkable.


The sleeker shape returns a Cd of merely 0.24 on base model.


Nevertheless, the new shape is very sleek, with a Cd of merely 0.24 on base model. This is achieved thanks to active shutter grille, underbody cladding and specially shaped door mirrors.

As the last generation was already very large, the new car gets barely larger again. It measures 5098 mm in length (+19 mm), 1902 mm in width (same) and 1478 mm in height (+7mm). The wheelbase is unchanged at 3070 mm for the standard car or 3210 mm for the LWB model. However, underneath the skin there are big changes. In order to restore agility the G11/G12 switches to a carbon-fiber, aluminum and steel hybrid construction, which is a world’s first for mass production. Look at the picture of its chassis below. The black parts, including transmission tunnel, roof rails, pillars and sills, are carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). They help reduce weight yet improve structural rigidity. It goes without saying that the technology is transferred from i3 and i8.

The silver parts, including doors, front crash structure and suspension towers, roof, bonnet and boot lid, are aluminum, whereas the rest of the chassis is high-strength steel. This advanced hybrid structure helps the new 7-Series to cut kerb weight by up to 130 kg compared with the old model. It should have been more if not offset by more luxury equipment.


The carbon-fiber, aluminum and steel hybrid construction is a world’s first for mass production.


The suspensions remain to be double-wishbone up front and 5-link setup at the rear. Since even more suspension and brake components have been converted to aluminum, unsprung weight is reduced by a further 10 kg. As before, adaptive dampers are standard, while optional features include self-levelling adaptive air springs (now also at
the front axle for the first time), active anti-roll bars and active rear-wheel steering.

In the engine compartment, changes are quite subtle. On paper, the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 on 750i seems to be carried over, as its output remains at 450 hp and 479 lbft. It has been modified in a number of areas to improve efficiency though, such as lifting compression ratio from 10.0:1 to 10.5:1, improving cooling system (to cut warm up time hence cold start emission) and a partially integrated intake manifolds (to reduce flow resistance). When mated with xDrive 4WD system, the 750i is good for 0-60 mph in an astonishing 4.2 seconds! Meanwhile, its CO2 emission is reduced from 217 to 189 g/km.

The 8-speed ZF automatic transmission remains, but it is now linked to GPS so that it can predict the roads ahead and make better decision. This feature was first used on Rolls-Royce Ghost.


Considering how quick the 750i is, it is really not necessary to go for the V12...


Lower down the range there are again 740i and 730d. The former employs the new modular family 3.0-liter straight-six turbo with codename B58 (first launched in the 3-Series facelift). Its 326 hp and 332 lbft output is hardly changed from the last 740i, but again fuel consumption and emission are improved considerably. The 740d is the biggest selling model in the range. Its new 3-liter diesel adopts piezo injectors with 2500 bar injection pressure (matching Volvo Drive-E and Volkswagen 240hp 2.0 BiTDI). This lifts it horsepower from 258 to 265, while max torque is up from 413 to 457 lbft. Most important, it returns 63 mpg and emission of only 119 g/km, a figure more akin to family hatches a few years ago.

If that's not green enough, consider the new 740e. It is a plug-in hybrid, with the battery stored underneath the rear seat. It pairs a B48 2.0-liter turbo four and an electric motor (integrated into the casing of ZF 8-speed auto) for a combined output of 326 hp. Expect 135 mpg and 49 g/km for EU combined cycle.

We don't expect an M7, but the flagship V12-powered 760Li should arrive in a year's time. Considering how quick the 750i is, it is really not necessary to go for the V12 unless you want to show your wealth.


The cabin does not disappoint for materials, build-quality and advanced equipment.


Inside, the BMW flagship luxury car does not disappoint for materials, build-quality and advanced equipment. Its new TFT instrument panel changes color across different driving modes. Its improved iDrive control includes touch pad and an optional gesture-recognition control, whose 3D sensors can understand the meaning of your hand gesture in free air. The rear passengers can be served with entertainment system, massaging and ventilating seats, reclining seats with foot rests, lounge console, panoramic glass roof and ambient lighting with 6 different color schemes. The only minor gripe is the touch sensitive switches on center console lack the tactile feel of mechanical ones, but then the car compensates with a high-tech ambience.

The G11 has a number of world's firsts. Apart from the aforementioned hybrid chassis and gesture control, it is the first production sedan to adopt laser headlights, which offers a longer range of illumination. Besides, it has the world's first remote control automatic parking. The driver can get off the car and use his remote control key to instruct the car to drive itself into the garage. Yes, most of these are only gadgets. BMW tries hard to differentiate its flagship sedan from the competition with a high-tech image.


Rear rear passengers are well served with entertainment system, lounge console, massaging and reclining seats with foot rests...


The most important question is, is it as good a luxury car as Mercedes S-class? With the additional air suspension on the front axle and all efforts spent to improve chassis rigidity and NVH suppression, the new 7-Series is certainly more supple and more refined than ever. However, even in Comfort mode the suspension still lacks the ultimate smoothness of Mercedes S-class. There is more fidgety in its low speed ride. Switch to the new Comfort+ mode, its ride softens further, but the body control gets poorer, displaying too much lean and vertical body motions at reasonable speeds, again not as effective as Mercedes’ Magic Body Control. It sounds more like a Rolls-Royce than a BMW.

No, the BMW should not be driven in this way. Dial to Sport mode and the car comes alive. Its body control is clearly beyond the level of Mercedes, thanks in part to the electro-hydraulic active anti-roll bars. It feels taut and controlled. Turn-in is relatively quick with the help of 4WS. The balance is good for a large car. The grip is strong. Unfortunately, all these merits are ruined by a numb steering. The new car has ditched the variable-ratio steering of the old car for a fixed ratio rack (still
electrically assisted). Its weighting gets lighter, but the real problem is lack of feel. In my memory none of the last 5 generations had a steering as numb. I suspect the addition of air springs to the front suspensions is the root cause, as it has all the road information effectively filtered.


The fine chassis is ruined by a numb steering, which means the 7er could no longer attract a keen driver to the helm...


Yes, Mercedes has a similar problem, but the fact that a BMW steers like a big Mercedes is not so amusing. Losing the steering feel means the 7-Series could no longer attract a keen (but wealthy) driver to the helm. They are more likely to lean at the back seat like the owners of most other limousines. Is this still a true BMW? I am puzzled.

BMW’s engines still shines. Even the base 3-liter diesel is smooth and responsive, while the petrol V8 is as great as ever. Performance and drivetrain refinement are beyond criticism. But that alone could not engage the driver.

The 7-Series has evolved to a stage that it has to decide which way to go: the luxury path like the mainstream, or the driver’s car path like its ancestors? It tries to bridge both worlds, but the result is compromised. On the one hand it is not quite as comfortable as Mercedes, on the other hand it is not engaging enough to attract keener drivers. Is this the inevitable fate of modern luxury limousines? Let’s hope the next generation Jaguar XJ will do better.
Verdict: 
 Published on 11 Feb 2017
All rights reserved. 
M760Li


Can the M-badge save BMW's V12 limousine from extinction?


I remember in 1987, the launch of BMW 750i caused quite a sensation. Back then, the only other luxury car featuring V12 power was the aging Jaguar XJ12. Mercedes had yet to build its first 12-cylinder engine (not until 1991), let alone Audi, whose maximum cylinder count was only 5 (in fact, it was yet to be transformed into a luxury brand). All the other 12-cylinder engines served Italian exotics. BMW’s 5-liter, 300hp V12 opened a new era, promoting the 7-Series to a status somewhat superior to the contemporary Mercedes S-class.

30 years later, BMW is still building V12 engine for the 7-Series, but the atmosphere is very different. Regulatory and environmental pressures force many manufacturers to either stop or slow down their development of 12-cylinder engines. Munich is no exception. On paper, the 6.6-liter twin-turbo direct-injection V12 on M760Li looks exciting – its 610-horsepower output enables the heavyweight limousine to achieve 0-60 mph in an amazing 3.6 seconds, eclipsing even the outgoing M5 Competition pack to be the fastest series production car in BMW’s history. However, have a closer inspection of the engine hiding under the black plastic cover, you will find few improvements over the last version. Yes, its capacity has been increased by 10 percent, but this change was already reflected on Rolls-Royce Ghost some 7 years ago. The valve timing of Bi-Vanos has been tweaked, and the direct injection pressure is up, but BMW declined to add its Valvetronic system to the V12, which could have reduced its emission and fuel consumption. Likewise, it refused to introduce cylinder deactivation, which is a pity since cylinder deactivation would be a perfect match with V12 – something even a small player like Aston Martin understands (see DB11). Apparently, Munich has largely stopped the development of its V12 in the view of its pessimistic future.



The V12 still lacks cylinder deactivation, something even Aston Martin has adopted. Seems that BMW has largely stopped the development of its V12...


While 610 horsepower looks a lot, it represents a specific output of less than 100 hp per liter, which is hardly world-class these days. Mind you, the version on Rolls-Royce Wraith is more powerful at 632 hp. Both engines’ maximum torque are capped at 590 lbft to avoid overloading the ZF 8-speed automatic. The V12 of Mercedes-AMG S65 is much torquier at 738 lbft. Most telling, AMG’s latest E63 S needs only 8 cylinders and 4 liters of displacement to eclipse the 6.6-liter V12 in both power and torque, yet its hot-V turbo arrangement demonstrates keener throttle response. The BMW V12 is really showing its age.

Moreover, these 610 ponies have to haul some 2180 kilograms plus occupants and luggage. There is no denial that 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds is really quick, but part of the improvement comes from the standard xDrive 4WD system and faster transmission calibration. This means the car feels fast but not sensational enough to compare with smaller sports sedans. To extract its performance, you need to keep planting the throttle harder than expected, blame to that weight. By upgrading to V12 power, the checkboxes of long-wheelbase body, xDrive, 4WS, air suspension and active anti-roll bars are checked automatically. These put an additional 370 kg over a standard 750i and have the 160hp / 110 lbft advantage largely cancelled. In normal driving, the 750i doesn’t feel much slower than the M760Li.


To extract its performance, you need to keep planting the throttle harder than expected, blame to that 2180kg.


However, it would be wrong to describe the M760Li as completely superfluous. Even though it is not an M7 – there won’t be such a car, probably forever – it is an “M Performance” car like M235i, so it is given a sportier character than the regular 7-Series models. The chief difference does not lie on hardware but the way the driver selectable control system is programmed. Comfort mode remains calm and relaxing, but Sport mode is tuned up to show a marked difference, no matter throttle response, gearshift speed and body control. The steering rack is set a little bit quicker, although it remains very numb at the straight ahead position. The rear-wheel active steering makes the big car feel more like a 5-Series in tighter roads. For a car so large and heavy, it controls its body motions pretty well, but we would call it progressive and predictable rather than sharp or agile. The 4WD affords remarkable grip, but it also turns the car into early understeer more easily than proper sports sedans, despite the presence of 4WS. If you keep pushing it, you will eventually overcome the understeer, but that calls for a lot of road space and, obviously, no one would take the M760Li to track days.

While the M760Li is slightly sportier than 750i, it is well beaten by Porsche Panamera in all dynamic measures. After all, it is essentially a luxury limousine fitted with a bigger engine, rather than a sports sedan added with luxury touches. Meanwhile, a Mercedes-AMG S63 still does the luxury job better than BMW, offering better ride and refinement as well as a more graceful appearance. The BMW V12 sounds more subdued than the AMG V8, too, which is a shame. Adding the M badge does not make the life of 760Li any easier.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis

Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features

Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
730d
2015
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum + carbon-fiber monocoque
Steel + aluminum
5098 / 1902 / 1478 mm
3070 mm
Inline-6, diesel
2993 cc
DOHC 24 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
265 hp
457 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping

245/45R19

1755 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.8 (c)
-
740i
2015
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum + carbon-fiber monocoque
Steel + aluminum
5098 / 1902 / 1478 mm
3070 mm
Inline-6
2998 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
326 hp
332 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping

245/45R19

1725 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.2 (c)
-
750i (xDrive)
2015
Front-engined, R(4)WD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum + carbon-fiber monocoque
Steel + aluminum
5098 / 1902 / 1478 mm
3070 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
450 hp
479 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping, adaptive air springs, active anti-roll bar
F: 245/40ZR20
R: 275/35ZR20
1810 (1870) kg
155 mph (limited)
4.5 (c) (4.2 (c) / 4.4*)
(10.1*)




Performance tested by: *C&D





Year
Layout
Chassis

Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features

Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
M760Li
2017
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum + carbon-fiber monocoque
Steel + aluminum
5238 / 1902 / 1479 mm
3210 mm
V12, 60-degree
6592 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
610 hp / 5500-6500 rpm
590 lbft / 1550-5000 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping, adaptive air springs, active anti-roll bar
F: 245/40ZR20
R: 275/35ZR20
2180 kg
190 mph (limited)
3.6 (c) / 3.5*
7.9*
























































Performance tested by: *C&D





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M760Li



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