The BMW 7 Series just went from a gramophone to Sonos wireless surround sound. While lovely to spend time in, the previous-gen G11 7 Series wasn’t exactly a technology powerhouse. It was fine, and it had its little tablet screen in the rear center console to control the climate, but this new BMW G70 7 Series is about ten steps forward. It’s the Space Shuttle compared to Wilber Wright’s flying machine. So let’s dig into this new 7 Series and all of its new technology, to understand just how big of a jump it’s made since the G11.

Level 3 Autonomy

Let’s start with the heavy duty stuff first. The new BMW G70 7 Series is the first car in the U.S. market to be equipped with the hardware for Level 3 autonomous driving. That claim does come with an asterisk, as Level 3 isn’t yet legal in the ‘States so the 7 Series can’t actually use the new hardware that it has, but it does indeed have it. The main hardware component that provides the 7 Series with Level 3 tech is a LiDAR system, from Innoviz.

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This new LiDAR system from Innoviz is ultra compact and built into the kidney grille of the new 7 Series and i7, completely hiding it from sight. That LiDAR unit, along with an array of other sensors and cameras, helps provide the G70 7er with the most advanced Level 3 tech on the market.

What is Level 3 autonomy? We wrote a deep dive on it here, if you want to read further into it, but it’s essentially the ability for the car to drive itself entirely, without any driver input whatsoever, during a certain set of circumstances. In this case, BMW’s Level 3 self-driving system will be limited to highway use in moderate traffic, at speeds up to 60 km/h (37 mph). If you live in China, Germany, or other European markets, Level 3 is becoming legal soon. If you’re an American customer, your 7 Series or i7 will technically be capable of driving itself on the highway, within the proper speed parameters, but you won’t be allowed to do it.

Electrification is the New Black

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Electrification is what’s in now, as the auto industry not-so-slowly moves into the future. Which means almost all 7 Series models are electrified in one way or another. Even the relatively entry-level models; the BMW 735i and 740i, use 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains. While that doesn’t mean they can power themselves on electricity along (they actually can but you can crawl faster), it does mean they have electric motors built into their eight-speed transmissions, helping the engine. That allows for better efficiency, increased engine response, less turbo-lag, smoother auto start/stop, and quicker warm starts.

The headlining engine — BMW’s new S68 from the 760i, which we did a deep dive into as well — is also a 48-volt mild-hybrid in all models it’s used in. It can’t power itself at all under electric power alone but that’s not really the point. Instead, as with the B58 engined cars, the mild hybrid system is only there to increase efficiency and smooth the engine out.

Ramping things up a bit is the BMW M760e plug-in hybrid. It will be a full-blown plug-in hybrid, with a large enough battery pack to provide 52 miles of pure electric driving. Interestingly, despite also having “60” in its name, the M760e doesn’t share the 760i’s S68 V8 engine. Instead, it uses a version of the B58 engine, paired with an electric motor, to make 563 horsepower and 590 lb-ft. So while the six-cylinder engines use electrification for efficiency, the M760e uses it for power.

However, the BMW i7 uses it for both. Rather than pairing electric motors with a gas engine, the BMW i7 ditches the gas engines entirely. Instead, it just uses dual electric motors, one at each axle, which are fed battery juice by a 101.7 kWh battery pack, to make 536 horsepower and 549 lb-ft of torque.

BMW’s Best Interior Ever

As nice as most BMW interiors are; with superb build quality, usually great ergonomics, and solid tech; the new 7 Series models are far more luxurious and high-tech than ever before.

Front passengers are greeted by what is likely the nicest looking BMW interior of all. The dashboard is lovely and features a massive strip of glowing, backlit, crystal-like trim that sounds silly but looks brilliant. The driver can change the color of the trim but it also changes based on certain actions, such as phone calls or when a passenger summons the personal AI assistant. Of course, the 7 Series also gets BMW’s iDrive 8, accompanied by its new digital gauge screen, both of which are massive improvements over iDrive 7.

It’s the backseat that really wows, though. On each rear door, just near the armrest, rear passengers will find a small touchscreen that controls everything about their cabin zone. They can change the climate, ambient lighting, adjust sun shades, operate the sunroof, and even adjust the theater screen.

Oh, did I mention it has an optional 31″ 8k theater screen that drops down from the headliner of the car, for back seat passengers to watch. It features built-in Amazon Fire TV, which allows passengers to watch any sort of streaming content they can imagine, through the car’s own 5G data connection. Being Fire TV-based, your home Amazon Fire TV app data transfers to the car, so if you’re watching a movie at home, pause at any point and get in the car, the movie will resume playing from the same spot in the back of your i7.

To listen to said theater screen, passengers can use an all-new optional 36-speaker, 1,965 watt Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, with 4D audio technology that uses exciters in the front and rear seat rests. If you don’t spec that option, you still get a Bowers & Wilkins system as-standard but it’s 18-speakers and 655 watts. Or, rear passengers can use Bluetooth headphones to listen, if they choose to do so privately.

Making more use out of that 5G data connection, the BMW 7 Series can be added to your T-Mobile wireless data plan, which actually makes it a device on your mobile plan. If done, you don’t need your phone, you can use the 7 Series to make calls or send texts. Journalists often mock modern cars for becoming smart phones on wheels but the 7 Series took that literally.

Taking a page out of Rolls-Royce’s book, BMW gave the new 7 Series and i7 automatic opening/closing doors. To get into either of them, you simply press a button on the exterior door handle and it will automatically open for you, just like a Rolls. Once inside, press another button and it will close for you as well. All four doors get this treatment, so all passengers get their own personal door valets. Nice.

Techno-Fest 7 Series

Photo by Amelie Mesecke

 

When you add it all up, the new 7 Series makes the last-gen car feel like a dinosaur. Everything from substantial mechanical tech; such as the hybrid/electric powertrains and Level 3 autonomy; to luxury tech; such as the theater screen and automatic doors; all combine to make the new 7 Series the most advanced and luxurious BMW product of all time.