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BMW 7 Series


Talk about going the extra mile. Not only can the latest BMW 7 Series tell you what's coming when you nose into traffic, it'll massage your buttocks while it does so.

Yet forget the fancy gizmos and there's still much to admire about this car, not least the fact it can actually deliver a decent driving experience, albeit with the proviso, 'for a vehicle of this size'.

The 7 Series is BMW's flagship, and the outgoing car made that very obvious. Its sculpted looks initially frightened off a few with the money to buy one, but it's aged well. This generation delivers some of the same styling cues, but with the edges knocked off for a more elegant if less assertive persona, offset by the visual presence of that enlarged kidney grille.

The car's lines are sleeker, courtesy a small increase in length and reduction in height, while a longer wheelbase allowed the designers (and their customers) more room to manoeuvre in the cabin.

That cabin is even smarter than before, underlined by the plain black sweep of the instruments, which light up to reveal their function only when the engine fires.

There's a choice of two powerplants. The 4395cc twin-turbo V8 with 300kW and 600Nm of torque can take this car from zero to 100 in 5.2 seconds. It's a surprisingly compact unit, with the turbos tucked into the vee along with the catalytic converters - which gets them up to operating temperature more quickly.

There's also an all-new diesel six for the 730d, with 180kW and 540Nm for a zero to 100 figure of 7.2 seconds - and a claimed thirst of 7.2l/100km. That's considerably less than I achieved, but then I was putting BMW's claims to dynamic excellence to the test.

Both variants get Dynamic Driving Control (comfort to sporty at the touch of a button) and Dynamic Damping Control, plus a 50-50 weight balance, with the active steering and dynamic drive optional on the 730d.

That active steering is a mechanical rear-steer system that's astonishingly effective. At low speed the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the fronts to exaggerate the turn. At high speeds they turn the same way, to improve stability. At a highway pace this car feels like a long, stable, luxo-limo. But the rear-steer that acts at town speeds seems to shrink the car around you, imparting an impressively tight turning circle and the sort of car-park manoeuvrability that'll make you the envy of others.

And here we are, almost out of space without detailing the extensive list of standard features and options which include a head-up display (most useful for speed or satellite navigation instructions); night vision with pedestrian detection; lane change and blind spot warnings; an updated and easier-to-use iDrive, which accesses a multitude of in-car functions and includes voice control of some; and much, much more.

All this would be impressive in a sedate barge of a car. That this one also makes a reasonable fist of responding to a challenging road means it's doubly impressive - which is fortunate, given its $185,000 to $245,000 price.



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