2016 BMW 7 Series previewed
The redesigned 2016 BMW 7 Series will be unveiled in June prior to its appearance this fall at the Frankfurt Auto Show. While the automaker isn't ready to show and tell everything about its next-gen flagship, an early tech briefing showed what we can expect when the wraps come off. Pictured here in factory-issued development shots, the 2016 7 Series will be significantly lighter and more agile than the current model with better economy and user friendliness - including the ability to autonomously parallel or perpendicularly park itself. To be offered in standard and long wheelbase variants - although the U.S. is likely to see only the latter - the new 7 Series will have rear-drive and xDrive AWD configurations along with new iDrive and ConnectedDrive features.
Carbon Core body structure
Adapting EfficientLightweight design thinking first implemented in its new "i" family of EV/plug-in vehicles, the 2016 BMW 7 Series has an advanced Carbon Core body structure employing carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) elements into a central monocoque. By combining 16 CFRP components - most in the roof structure - with more aluminum and then adjusting the remaining mix of high-strength steel and other metals, BWW engineers reduced the car's curb weight by roughly 287 pounds while creating a stiffer, stronger foundation that has a lower center of gravity.
All 2016 BMW 7 Series models improve dynamics with standard four-wheel air suspension/self-leveling that incorporates Dynamic Damper Control to enhance ride quality. The new 7 Series also features a revamped Driving Experience Control with a new Adaptive mode that automatically assesses and responds to the individual's driving style and the road conditions. This is bolstered by tweaks to the car's optional Integral Active Steering system - now available on xDrive models -- and the first electromechanical version of BMW's Dynamic Drive active roll stabilization system.
iDrive adds touch and gesture control
The updated version of iDrive being introduced on the new BMW 7 Series has more user-friendly graphics and will be the first to offer touch display control to supplement the existing controller wheel. The new iDrive system also has a 3D control sensor that can detect and respond to both a series of pre-programmed and unique driver-programmable gestures that will activate various functions.
The biggest powertrain news for the 2016 BMW 7 Series sees the current 3.0-liter inline-six replaced by a new 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo I-6. Based on the automaker's latest technology also found on the i3 and Mini, it's backed by an 8-speed automatic - as will the carryover engines in all other 7-Series models. This new powerplant promises more power than the current 315-horse count as well as improved fuel economy/CO2 numbers. The rest of the V8/V12 gasoline engines in the current lineup as well as the I-6 turbodiesel and the ActiveHybrid 7 are expected to return with only minor revamps and be joined by a new plug-in model.
New driver assists include remote-control parking
The 2016 BMW 7 Series will boast revisions to its Driving Assistant and Driving Assistant Plus systems that add Lane Departure Warning Assistant with active side collision protection and rear-collision prevention and cross-traffic warning functions. The touch of a button on the Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function will recognize limits detected by the Speed Limit Info function. BMW's new range-topping sedan also will offer the industry's first production autonomous parking option. Activated by the new BMW Display Key, the new 7 Series will be able to automatically maneuver into and out of a garage or parking space without anyone being inside the vehicle.
Although it remains a thoroughly competent exercise in its own right, the current 7 Series has been accused of having gone a bit soft and losing sight of its Ultimate Driving Machine roots - especially when compared to rivals like the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. With the next-gen 2016 7 Series, BMW plans to put its top sedan back on track in a big way. While far too early to pass final judgement on the automaker's success in that mission, we're impressed with the announced changes and look forward to our first encounter with a production model.
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