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The Z9 cabriolet concept (Paris Motorshow 2000) previewed
the new 7Series interior theme
The Z9 concept (Frankfurt Motor Show 1999) previewed a
number of new design elements for BMW, including the
dramatic rear end theme used on the new 7 Series.
The X-Coupe concept (Detroit Auto Show 2001) introduced
the 'flame surfacing' theme, and represents a possible
direction for future BMW's after the 7 Series
Jun 25, 2001 - BMW has released the first official pictures of the new 7 Series. According to BMW, this new model is the most technologically advanced BMW ever, and introduces an exciting new design language to both the interior and exterior. The new 7 Series will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, going on sale early in 2002.
The BMW designers have produced an elegant main body shape which continues the solid and capable image of it's predecessor, with a more flowing roof line and a smooth rounded bodyside. The door handles (previously integrated with the bodyside crease line) now feature prominently in the larger bodyside shoulder.
At the front, an evolutionary grille design is framed by the radical new lamp arrangement and a bumper design which drops at the side to match with the deep-set lower bodyside panels. The new front end is a radical change in proportion and execution from previous BMW sedans. From a company that has previously used such an evolutionary approach to design, this is a surprisingly progressive design.
The theme used on the rear of the car creates a separate trunk/spoiler form that seems to overlap the bodyside and rear lamps, a theme first shown on the Z9 concept of 1999. The high set lamp strip, incorporating reverse and rear foglamps may seem a complex arrangement, but follows on from the unique offset lamp themes of previous BMW 3 and 5 series models.
Following the Z9 and X-coupe concepts, there has been much conjecture over where the production BMW's would go, and BMW have certainly given us something more to talk about. We are looking forward to see this car in the flesh, with it's debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
The interior theme is based on the Z9 and research concepts shown over the past year, with two similarly shaped binnacles housing information displays. The interior uses clean, positive forms, and trapezoidal shapes to define a new character, with large areas wood trim integrated into the design.
The new 7 Series pioneers a new ergonomics concept christened 'iDrive', which separates the cabin into two distinct areas, the comfort area and the driving area. The instrument panel theme is dominated by the two similarly shaped binnacles housing these display areas.
In the 'comfort area', the majority of secondary functions are now operated by a single central controller. The result is a dramatic reduction in the number of buttons and switches creating an extremely clean and modern interior look and feel. The controller is a rotary dial located in front of the central armrest and is intuitive in operation. By rotating and pressing the controller and moving it laterally, the driver is able to select and control functions including the ventilation system, the audio and entertainment system, navigation and telematics applications. A central computer monitor displays the various functions and the chosen setting selections.
The new 7 Series also offers internet access through an individually configured WAP-supported BMW internet portal incorporated in the car. All the functions in the comfort area can be operated by both the driver and the passenger.
In the 'driving area', an instantly noticeable feature of the new 7 Series is the absence of a central gearlever and traditional ignition key. Instead all primary controls are located in and around the steering wheel, the centre of the driving area. Gear selection is controlled via a stalk in the steering column. The ignition switch is controlled by a new electronic key and the engine is started and stopped using a button. With all the relevant functions positioned in this central driving area, the driver can remain focused on the road.
The 735i will be powered by a 272bhp, 3.6 litre V8 engine, whilst the 745i will have a 333bhp, 4.4 litre engine. The new 7 Series features the worlds first six-speed automatic transmission with integrated shift-by-wire technology. Operated by a selector lever alongside the steering wheel and Steptronic buttons on the steering wheel rim, this innovative transmission also helps to deliver impressive performance. Standstill to 62mph takes just 6.3 seconds in the 745i and 7.5 seconds in the 735i. Top speed in both models is electronically limited to 155mph.
The new 7 Series benefits from a number of safety innovations including improved head airbags, new active head restraints and a new advanced airbag safety control system called ISIS, which decides which systems to deploy in an accident.
Continuously variable electronic damper control, pneumatic suspension with automatic self-levelling for the rear axle and a new active all aluminium dynamic drive chassis with active roll stabilisation all contribute to improved ride quality.