BMW 7 Series facelift: First impression
The BMW 7 Series first appeared on the scenes way back in the late 1970s, and was the spiritual successor to the then-popular New Six line of sedans. Today, the 7 Series is one of the most sought-after full-size luxury sedans in the world, and with every passing generation, the Bavarian auto giant keeps improving its flagship -- culminating in the latest, sixth-generation (internally known as “G12”) incarnation which was launched globally in 2015. The G12 became the first BMW to be built around the brand’s Oberklasse or Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform, which now even incorporates some carbon-fibre reinforced polymer in its construction.
However, now we have the all-new 2020 BMW 7-Series facelift among us, and it was officially launched here in Malaysia after its worldwide reveal earlier this year. Costing RM 594,800, BMW Malaysia currently offers only one variant of the new facelifted 7-Series, and that’s the plug-in hybrid 740Le xDrive (internationally known as the 745Le). Just as before, the facelifted BMW 7 Series competes with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Jaguar XJ, and Lexus LS.
In Malaysia, the facelifted BMW 7-Series is available in four attractive colours; there’s Bernina Grey, Black Sapphire, Imperial Blue, and Mineral White. As things are with most facelifts, the new BMW 7-Series, too, has been given some cosmetic updates to differentiate it from its pre-facelift avatar. One of the most striking updates comes in the form of the new 7er’s gigantic and rather ungainly kidney grille. BMW’s current obsession with larger and larger front grilles on their cars seems to be getting out of hand, though it does suit the equally big X7. Moving on, the visually bigger front end of the new 7-Series wears slender and ultra-modern BMW Laserlight headlamps, expansive yet taut bonnet with crisp contours, and a smartly-moulded bumper with well-integrated air-intake vents/air curtains.
The 5,238 mm long side profile of the new 7 Series looks edgy and athletic despite its immense size, though there’s no escaping its limousine-like presence. The 19-inch double-spoke alloy wheel design sure is attention-drawing, while the strong shoulder line and the gently flowing roofline compliment the 7er’s lengthy 3,210mm wheelbase quite well, too. The rear features a new, ultra-thin LED light strip which is placed just under the chrome bar, both of which connect the 3-D design all-LED tail lamps of the new 7-Series. The bold-looking and neatly-sculpted bumper houses a distinctive chrome garnish which also encompasses the 7er’s chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets. BMW has done enough work to distinguish the facelifted 7 Series, but that front grille, though…
Unlike its (even) bigger X7 sibling, the interior of the facelifted BMW 7 Series hasn’t been put through any radically different updates over the pre-facelift 7er. However, BMW continues to impress with its liberal use of really expensive and high-end materials and trim all throughout the cabin of the new 7 Series, though some might find the overall design and layout of this interior a little low on the visual excitement department. With that being said, the 7 Series facelift specs sheet comes with BMW’s latest Live Cockpit Professional package, along with the BMW Connected Package Professional and BMW Navigation Professional system. The Live Cockpit system in the new 7 Series features a crisp and high-def 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and an equally high-resolution 12.3-inch touchscreen display. The latter even comes with BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant, Gesture Control, and an upgraded iDrive infotainment system.
Just as in the newly-launched X7, the facelifted 7 Series also comes loaded to the gills with tonnes of goodies. Some of these include soft-closing doors, a power tailgate, BMW Display Key, panoramic glass roof, Nappa leather seats with integrated climate control and massaging functions, posh wood and metallic trims, four-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, adaptive air suspension, power-operated sunblinds for all three rear windows, LED ambient mood lighting, head-up display, 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, dual 10-inch rear-seat entertainment touchscreen displays, and Parking Assistant with Reversing Assist.
Powertrain and performance
Being a plug-in hybrid, the new BMW 740Le xDrive is powered by a combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor - the latter is backed up by a 12 kWh battery pack. Meanwhile, the role of the former is played by a twin-scroll turbocharged, 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine, which alone produces 282hp and 450Nm of torque. However, factoring in the electric motor’s juice as well takes the combined system output to 394hp and a healthy 600Nm of the shove. An 8-speed Steptronic gearbox handles the cogs, whilst the drive is sent to all four corners via BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. And in spite of its two-tonne heft, this 7er’s straight-line performance is stellar, with the relentless torque helping it sprint from 0 to 100 kmph in just a smidge over 5.0 seconds. And the fun continues all the way up until the electronic governor kicks in at 250 kmph. According to BMW, the 740Le xDrive is capable of achieving a staggering 35.7 kmpl -- though that figure will definitely be lower in real-world driving conditions, obviously.
BMW has packed the new 740Le xDrive with almost everything in their vast safety arsenal. Apart from the ubiquitous anti-lock brakes, stability & traction control, and front, side and curtain airbags, the 7er also gets a lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, high-beam assistant, run-flat tyres etc. etc.