BMW 7-Series made its world debut at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. In USA it went on sale this spring with the following prices:750i is $81,125 and the 750Li is $85,025.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254882

The new BMW 7 Series is entering the market with a V8 and a straight-six gasoline engine both featuring Twin Turbo technology and direct fuel injection (High Precision Injection) as well as the first representative of a new generation of six-cylinder diesel engines.

The eight-cylinder developing maximum output of 407 hp between 5,500 and 6,400 rpm in the BMW 750i, for example, is the most efficient engine in its performance class and the only engine of its kind worldwide with the turbochargers fitted in the V-space between the two rows of cylinders.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254877

For the BMW 740i, output of the six-cylinder Twin Turbo has been raised to 240 kW/326 hp at 5,800 rpm. The newly developed six-cylinder diesel in the BMW 730d, in turn, develops maximum output of 180 kW/ 245 hp at 4,000 rpm. And it goes without saying that all engines comply in full with the strict EU 5 emission standard.

Press release after the jump.

Press release

The new 7 embodies luxury that inspires, driving dynamics that enthuse, and a visual presence that earns universal admiration. It is the product of a self-assured design philosophy and consistent yet ever-evolving engineering artistry. In great measure, this new sedan owes its unique, progressive character to an abundance of innovations whose purpose is to make driving a magnificent automobile – as well as riding in it – a memorable experience.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254879

At the core of this experience are chassis engineering that sets new international standards and all-new powertrain technology. BMW, which introduced its Active Steering concept in 2004, now brings it to the 7 Series in a new, unique form: Integral Active Steering, encompassing not only the original variable-ratio front steering, but also new rear-wheel steering. Acting as an overall system, the two capabilities deliver a new combination of handling ease, maneuverability and unrivaled stability in dynamic driving conditions: Integral Active Steering is included in the optional Sport Package.

The new 7 Series introduces Driving Dynamics Control, which enables the driver to select from four progressively sporty driving programs with the touch of a button. Driving Dynamics Control integrates Dynamic Damping Control (which has three-mode shock-absorber control) with transmission shift characteristics, engine response to the accelerator pedal, and steering assist and traction control level.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254883

Active Roll Stabilization another BMW advance in handling and riding comfort, is yet another element of the available Sport Package: Via electro-hydraulically actuated anti-roll bars, ARS reduces body “roll” or lean in cornering to a minimum, greatly enhancing the feeling of road-hugging handling.

An all-new engine that uniquely combines Efficiency and Dynamics.

Both U.S. models will be powered by an all-new twin-turbo V-8 engine also making its debut in the X6 Sports Activity Coupe. This is a highly advanced, unique and outstanding powerplant. With 4.4 liters of displacement and direct fuel injection (BMW’s High Precision Injection), the V-8 carries its two turbochargers in the “valley” between the two cylinder banks putting its exhaust valves inboard and intake valves outboard – a highly unusual layout and a complete departure from its predecessor. This “variation from the norm” pays off: the engine develops 400 hp over a range from 5500 to 6400 rpm, and a robust 450 lb-ft. of torque over the even broader range of 1750-4500 rpm.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254895

Compared to the like-named 750i/Li predecessors’ 4.8-liter naturally aspirated V-8’s 360 hp and 360 lb-ft., the new engine represents major progress in performance; and though official EPA ratings are not yet in, it is expected to deliver class-leading fuel efficiency as well. To provide some context to this achievement: the previous 7 Series’ 6.0-liter V-12 develops 438 hp and 444 lb-ft.

Leading the way again: a new generation of iDrive.

With the new 7, BMW again assumes the role of world leader in automotive control concepts. A 4th generation of iDrive sets new standards for ergonomics, efficiency and logical functionality with its larger, higher-definition Control Display. New, uniformly structured menus and an optimized control strategy for the display and console-mounted controller are also signature features of the new system.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293289

Other new details include buttons for direct selection of the Radio, CD, Navigation and Telecommunications menus, grouped conveniently next to the controller. Visual assists and consistent flow in the display simplify choices within the individual menus. In the GPS Navigation section, users will benefit from map displays with new standards of size, brilliance, detail and view choice. A “map preview” function facilitates selection of the navigation destination from a list; in a new operational logic, letters of the alphabet and numerals are arranged in circular form for more intuitive input of addresses and phone numbers.


The BMW 7 Series is sporting elegance personified. The mix of elegant long lines running the length of the car combined with the short overhang at the front, a glasshouse further to the rear and a low roofline adds a sporting flair.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254897

At the front, the largest kidney grilles ever to grace a BMW add a strong visual presence to the car while also hinting at its performance potential. The wide air intake on the lower part of the bumper extends nearly the entire width of the vehicle and while serving a practical engineering purpose also creates a bold, wide face for the 7 Series.

Dual corona ring headlights, seen on every modern BMW, have an additional touch that sets them apart from what has appeared previously. A light bar sits like an eyelid over the headlight and offers an additional shaft of light, while the direction indicators feature eight LED units arranged in two upright rows next to the headlight beams. This is partly a design signature but also to provide greater visual awareness to other drivers.

At the side, six optional alloy wheels up to 20-inches in diameter can be specified in addition to the standard fit 18-inch light alloy wheels. The standard wheelbase car measuring 3,070mm or the long wheelbase car at 3,210mm provide subtly different profiles on account of the extra rear legroom one car offers over the other. All models have the customary Hofmeister kink on the C pillar, but this time around the designers have incorporated a shadow kink in the bodywork behind the original one to underscore the significance of this iconic design trait.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254897

At the rear, the look changes depending on engine specified. The 730d features a twin exhaust pipe to the left, the 740i has an exhaust pipe at either side of the rear, while the 750i has a brace of quadrilateral exhaust pipes slotted either side of the lower valance. The rear light cluster incorporates LED lights for greater clarity.

The BMW 7 Series is available in nine exterior colours: Black Sapphire, Space Grey, Titanium Silver, Cashmere Silver, Mineral White, Sophisto Grey, Imperial Blue, Jet Black and Alpine White. Sophisto Grey and Imperial Blue are xirallic paints that come with an extra layer of finish for added shine.

The Interior

Generous space – it goes almost without saying that occupants of the new 7 enjoy plenty of knee, head and elbow room in the front and rear compartments. Contemporary design – the ambiance is luxurious, high in quality and advanced in its amenities and functions. The contours, color coordination and choice of materials symbolize taste and harmony. With its center stack lightly angled toward the driver, the control center promotes the driver’s intuitive mastery of the vehicle: this is always a hallmark of BMW interior design. And yet this interior isn’t only for the driver; its concept, layout, technology and design focus equally on the driver’s needs and the passengers’ well-being.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254886

The feeling of generous space and harmonious design is enhanced by horizontal color gradations pervading the entire cabin. High-quality materials and meticulous workmanship communicate the innate precision of these automobiles; details such as visible seams on the dash and door ledges, and double-framed central air outlets, are evidence of passionate devotion to details. The leatherette covering the main instrument-panel surfaces has been newly developed to be as close to leather as can be imagined – and yet soft Nappa leather here and on the door ledges is optionally available.

As always in BMW, the harmony of design and function is visible everywhere: for example, in the integration of door handles into the door panels’ chrome trim lines, or the door pulls as part of their contrasting trim material. Speaking of which: there are three choices of wood trim, four Nappa-leather interior color schemes, and the optional additional leather surfaces.

All these refinements and choices provide the interior counterpoint to the 12 available exterior colors, and enable customers to highlight classic elegance, sportiness or sheer luxury according to their personal tastes and preferences.

BMW 750Li: lavish space for rear-seat passengers

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254883

If the standard-wheelbase 750i already offers generous interior space, the long-wheelbase 750Li provides truly lavish accommodations for rear-seat passengers. And in the new 7, the meaning of “L” isn’t confined to just length: rather, this model also has its own roofline. This solution provides additional rear head room, as well as help maintain the dynamic proportions of the car to avoid making it look like a stretched version of the short wheel base 750i. Thus BMW’s typical “Joy of Driving” is complemented by the “Joy of Being Driven.”

And even this extra space can be further enhanced by two available options. Rear Comfort Seats only available in the Li model, includes individual left and right Comfort seats with multiple adjustments including fore-aft (70 mm/2.76-in. range), cushion and backrest angles, and head-restraint positions. Additionally, rear Comfort Seats also feature Active Ventilation and Active Comfort (“massage”) functions.

The Rear Entertainment Package adds yet another dimension to rear-seat luxury: a DVD player with color monitors integrated into the front seats’ backrests, controlled from a dedicated remote. This option is available on both 750i and 750Li.
Clear, intuitive control concept for greater driving pleasure and comfort.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293274

Control of the many interior functions and amenities is via a freshly thought-out and executed overall concept that is clear and intuitive. To begin with the simplest aspect of this, ample storage is provided by a spacious glove compartment, bins in the door panels and pockets on the front-seat backrests. Two cupholders are on the front center console; power-seat controls are on the seats and memory controls are on the doors.

The basic concept for all controls rests upon a philosophy of a clear, functionally logical arrangement of the entire interior. Thus, driving-related functions are all on the driver’s side, comfort-related functions around the center. This principle goes for the placement of buttons, keys and levers around the cockpit, as well as, controls on the steering wheel, where those for cruise control are separated from those for the audio and phone systems.

Analogous to this “horizontal” division of functions is the arrangement of all displays in a more “vertical” separation. In the upper areas – and thus, at about the driver’s eye level – are the primary displays, such as the speedometer and tachometer (and, naturally, the available Head-Up Display). Below that are less frequently viewed instruments like the fuel and oil-temperature gauges.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293275

At a still lower level are actual controls, optimally accessible and mostly operable without looking at them such as the turn-signal and low/high-beam/flasher stalks. Controls that need to be seen to be used are generally grouped together, for example, those for the driver-assistance functions clustered around the main lighting control: this too is highly logical, as all these support the driver’s need to perceive the vehicle’s surroundings and situations.

Everything at a glance: instrument cluster in Black Panel technology

The new 7’s instrument cluster combines classic elements and new solutions into a complete, harmonious presentation of driving information. For the first time in a BMW, the entire cluster is a high-resolution Black Panel display, in which four classic circular instruments are most prominent; other driving-relevant displays and readouts – including GPS Navigation, vehicle-monitoring functions, upcoming service requirements and other information – also appear here in their various (and function-related) graphic forms.

In “dormant” state, this display is a mostly blank black form defined by its chrome-toned periphery and including only pointer needles, scale markings and the tachometer’s red warning zone within it. The circular instruments’ numerals, as well as the integrated displays for current fuel economy and range on remaining fuel, are entirely electronic and not visible until a door is opened.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293275

So it is that the advantages of mechanical and electronic displays are ideally combined – with eye-catching visual and graphic effects. As the user enters the vehicle, the circular instruments’ “chrome rings,” until now open at the bottom, close and become brighter. Once the ignition is activated (upon pressing the Start/Stop button), the numerals plus all other displays and warnings illuminate. As the engine starts, functions that have been previously activated by the driver are then revealed as well.

The instrument cluster interacts in new ways with the iDrive control display and the optional Head-up Display. According to selected function, users can call up phone numbers or radio stations via the steering-wheel controls. The cluster also augments the iDrive GPS Navigation display with a further enhanced directional arrow display, which can now direct the driver to change lanes and help the driver find the correct street at a complicated or obscured intersection. If the Head-up Display is activated, the relevant directions appear primarily there; otherwise, they appear in the instrument cluster.

Current climate-control settings are indicated in a second Black Panel display in the center stack, along with all system controls. Users need not go into iDrive for any climate settings.

Unique powerplant

Previous BMW 7 Series models of the same 750i/750Li designation were powered by a 4.8-liter, 360-hp V-8 engine – “naturally aspirated” in the tech talk of engineers and car enthusiasts, meaning not super- or turbocharged. That engine also had BMW’s Valvetronic system, in which variable-lift intake valves assume the function normally done by a throttle.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254890

The new V-8 engine takes a different approach. Its displacement is reduced to 4.4 liters; replacing – no, surpassing – the higher displacement and Valvetronic are twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection. In quantitative terms, the new engine delivers 400 hp (40 hp more) and does so over a range from 5500 to 6400 rpm, vs. the previous engine’s 6300 rpm. Maximum torque is up even more: 450 lb-ft. vs. the previous 360, and available over the extremely broad range of 1750 to 4500 rpm, vs. 3400 rpm before. The bottom line here is, yes, greater power and torque; but more importantly, delivered over a much wider range of operating conditions. Also impressive: that 450-lb-ft. torque peak is almost identical to that of previous 760i/Li models’ 6.0-liter V-12 engine!

The point of the new engineering approach is to achieve higher performance without correspondingly higher fuel consumption. In technical terms, the approach involves some very new design details. For the first time, twin turbochargers and the exhaust-cleansing catalytic converters are placed between the V-8’s two cylinder banks. In turn, this required the exhaust camshafts and valves to be inboard so that the path from cylinders to turbochargers (which are driven by exhaust gas) would be efficiently short. The intake camshafts and valves are then positioned outboard. Visually, this results in a very different-looking engine. And an impressive-performing one

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293296

Aside from the dramatic thrust that drivers will notice subjectively, the objective data are dramatic as well: for the European 750i, 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.2 sec. Data for U.S. models is not yet available.

Twin turbocharging delivers quick, sustained performance response.

As in the highly acclaimed 3.0-liter 6-cylinder twin-turbo engine now available in other BMW models, the use of twin low-mass turbochargers overcomes a historic drawback of turbocharging: the so-called “turbo lag” before the engine responds to the driver’s accelerator foot with strong thrust. And the twin turbos keep delivering, over that wide rpm range mentioned earlier. The effect is that of a significantly larger-displacement engine; yet this aluminum V-8 weighs less than such a larger, naturally aspirated engine of comparable performance would.

Also, contributing to the brilliant performance is BMW’s High Precision Injection, a system of direct fuel injection that sprays the precise mixture of fuel and air directly into the cylinders, rather than the intake ports.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254896

Positioned centrally in the combustion chambers for optimum combustion, the injectors are thus subject to especially high temperatures and must deliver fuel at very high pressures. To meet BMW’s ambitious performance/efficiency/emissions goals with the necessary long-term durability, a “stack” of piezo crystals reacts lightning-fast to impulses from the engine electronics, governing the injector needle’s opening stroke and duration for ultra-precise control. According to researchers who developed this technology, it contributes 2-3% fuel savings and 20% fewer emissions.

Precise, responsive 6-speed automatic transmission

BMW pioneered the 6-speed automatic transmission with the previous 7 Series; the new 7 evolves this concept with quicker, smoother shifting, improved torque-converter efficiency and the new-type E-Shift driver interface. Altogether, the evolutionary changes result in a more responsive, more efficient and sportier transmission.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293276

For example, when the driver “kicks down” the accelerator, the transmission can downshift by as many as four gears – just as quickly as if it were shifting down only one gear. And the torque converter’s mechanical lockup – an efficiency-improving arrangement – is now engaged more of the time, reducing slippage and improving throttle response, especially in the lower gears.

The new E-Shift driver interface described earlier in more detail controls the transmission, not by mechanically connecting the lever and transmission, but rather by electrical and electronic means. It provides Normal, Sport and Manual modes, the last executed by the driver “tipping” the lever forward for downshifts, rearward for upshifts.


True to BMW tradition, the new 7 exploits the creation of a new vehicle generation to advance the art of chassis technology and engineering. Improving both driving dynamics and riding comfort are always the core goals of the transition to a new generation, and in these regards the new 7 upholds the tradition brilliantly.

Just as the new engine combines sporting performance with luxurious refinement, all-around new suspension technology endows the new 7 with uniquely agile handling for a luxury automobile, yet also an exceptional level of riding comfort. Beyond these “basics,” these new cars allow the driver to decide at any time what priority to assign to either of these attributes via the new Driving Dynamics Control.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293277

At the front, an all-new suspension system makes its debut. This double-wishbone system, the first such system ever in a BMW passenger car, marks a new step after BMW’s decades-long refinement of the double-pivot strut-type suspension into one of the world’s finest suspension systems. It is a multi-link type, adding an upper link (“wishbone”) to the familiar double-pivot lower links and thus relieving the strut of its role in determining suspension geometry. The double-pivot lower arms make up the lower wishbone. Another BMW specialty, the use of aluminum for links and other components, is applied here too and enhances the suspension’s response and riding comfort over rough road surfaces.

The rear suspension, too, is a significant evolution from its predecessor. Like the new front suspension, it is a multi-link system; BMW calls it the Integral system for its small, essentially vertical Integral Link connecting the upper and lower lateral control planes. And also as at the front, aluminum components are extensively employed.

A complex multi-link system like this controls rear-wheel angles very precisely, minimizing unwanted effects under load changes (such as lifting off the accelerator while cornering, or hard acceleration and braking) and achieving a comfortable, supple ride.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293278

Though steel coil springs are used at the front and rear of the 750i, the long-wheelbase 750Li comes standard with electronically controlled self-leveling air springs that compensate for loads carried in the rear seat and trunk, maintaining normal vehicle height even with a full complement of passengers and luggage.

Standard Dynamic Damping Control and Driving Dynamics Control

Dynamic Damping Control controls the shock absorbers to any level of firmness between their softest and firmest settings, precisely adapting to road conditions and the driver’s demands at any given moment. Ride firmness is always at the optimum level for current road conditions, vehicle speed and the load the vehicle is carrying (again, passengers and luggage). On smooth roads, the shocks are kept at the softest appropriate setting; in corners, they are instantly adjusted to a firmer, just-right level. And when the vehicle encounters any irregular road surface, they adjust to the optimum firmness level to control ride motions, preserve riding comfort and maintain adhesion to the road.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254905

Dynamic Damping Control is standard on both models, developed to be integrally combined with the also standard Driving Dynamics Control. Driving Dynamics Control provides the driver choices of settings for shock-absorber firmness, transmission shift characteristics, engine-throttle response and power-steering assist: Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. In addition, the traction-and-stability system Dynamic Stability Control continues with a Dynamic Traction Control setting (reduced traction intervention) that improves start-up on snow and is suitable for track-style driving.

Also standard on both models are 18-in. alloy wheels, carrying all-season run-flat tires of 245/50R-18 dimensions. On U.S. models, 19-in. wheels and performance tires are available as part of the optional Sport Package, or as a stand-alone option; two wheel designs are available.

New, advanced option: Integral Active Steering

In making its first appearance on the 7 Series, BMW’s Active Steering (included in each model’s Sport Package) also gains new capabilities. The familiar front Active Steering electronically varies the steering ratio (the number of degrees the steering wheel must be turned to achieve a 1˚ steering angle at the front wheels) according to vehicle speed and other driving conditions. At low speeds and in parking maneuvers this ratio is decreased significantly, resulting in remarkable maneuverability and agility; as vehicle speed increases, so does the ratio, reaching a “normal” level at about 75 mph.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293282

The 7 Series’ Integral Active Steering now also includes rear-wheel steering capability. Via a steering spindle and an eccentrically positioned servo motor, the rear wheels can be steered up to a maximum of 3˚. At low speeds, they are steered oppositely to the front wheels; depending on vehicle speed, the turning circle can be reduced by up to 27.5 inches – which, combined with the front wheels’ reduced steering ratio, dramatically improves maneuverability. Varying the rear-wheel steering according to vehicle speed, the system steers them in the same direction as the fronts at higher speeds, which enhances the more important attribute of stability at these speeds. A further, and perhaps less expected, benefit is that the rear-wheel steering reduces the yaw rate in a given road-speed maneuver, which will be perceived by rear-seat passengers as an improvement in riding comfort.

As a result, this unique combination of Active Steering at the front and rear wheels equally benefits both comfort and agility. Yet, there’s even more: enhanced stability in braking. Linked with the sensors of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Integral Active Steering can also make a targeted steering correction to hinder any loss of directional control under braking on a road surface that’s uneven from one side to the other.

Secure handling via powerful brakes and comprehensive DSC functions

Yet another active-safety advance is found in the 7 Series’ newly designed disc brakes. Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes are a long-standard feature on all U.S. BMW models, but until now the additional refinement of aluminum/cast-iron brake rotors has been reserved for the highest-performing 5 and 6 Series models.

In this patented construction, the brake rotor (disc) consists of two pieces: the high-carbon cast-iron outer portion, which functions conventionally as the surface onto which the brake pads grip to slow or stop the vehicle; and an aluminum “hat” in the center, which mounts the rotor to the vehicle. The concept’s advantages include reduced unsprung weight, complementing the aluminum suspension in benefiting ride comfort and road adhesion.

Reduced rotor deformation under hard braking is the other benefit. This means less tendency of the brakes to vibrate when hot, and reduced likelihood of rotors cracking under extreme heat conditions.

The brake system is also supported by the comprehensive functions of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). These include antilock braking (ABS), Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Cornering Brake Control and Dynamic Brake Control; each of these functions contributes to vehicle stability or to braking effectiveness. Other braking enhancements via DSC include Brake Fade Compensation, which compensates for loss of braking power (fading) under hard or repeated brake use; Brake Standby, which snugs the brake pads up to the rotors upon sharp acceleration to reduce the effective lag time in applying the brakes; and Brake Drying, which brings the pads to the rotors periodically during wet-weather driving.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293284

Beyond these extensive functions, still others involve the use of brakes to achieve desired operational and stability goals. For example, a new Electronic Limited-slip Differential function comes into play in vigorous driving when DSC is completely de-activated. By appropriate application of only the rear brakes while cornering, DSC simulates a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential. This has the effect of better apportioning power between the two rear wheels and thus improving traction in this driving situation. (Which, like use of the Sport Plus mode, is not recommended on public roads; it’s more of a racetrack or driving-school exercise.)

Intelligent driving dynamics via Integrated Chassis Management and FlexRay

All such driving-dynamics functions are coordinated and overseen by BMW’s Integrated Chassis Management. Via sensing and analysis of a multitude of inputs, this powerful electronic control scheme applies and governs the interaction of these functions to ensure maximum stability. Under rapidly changing conditions, such as changing road surface, spontaneous steering input, abrupt acceleration or sudden braking, ICM reacts with ultra-quick and ultra-precise interventions via the DSC actuators, Dynamic Damping Control, and – where present – Integral Active Steering and Active Roll Stabilization.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293290

For this extremely sensitive and powerful networking of functions, the new 7 Series employs FlexRay data-transmission technology. Developed by a consortium of which BMW is a leading member, FlexRay achieves heretofore unheard-of communication speed, some 20 times that previously possible. In the 7 Series, up to 16 electronic control units can be networked; in no other current automobile can longitudinal, lateral and vertical vehicle motions be so precisely monitored and influenced. BMW is the first motor-vehicle manufacturer to offer FlexRay technology in production vehicles; it appeared first in the current X5, and is also employed in the X6.



Intelligent Lightweight Design means maximum agility, efficiency and solidity

Thanks to BMW’s Intelligent Lightweight design process, the body structure of the new 7 Series benefits from both weight efficiency and solidity. Targeted applications of higher- and highest-strength steels, as well as, aluminum for numerous elements and components allowed BMW to achieve greater passive safety, yet reduce the structure’s weight. Compared to the predecessor’s body shell, the new models are approximately 20% more rigid in torsion – which, in turn, positively influences driving dynamics. Expressed another way, the so-called “lightweight index,” which quantifies torsional rigidity relative to the vehicle footprint and weight, has been improved significantly.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254899

Novel in the 7 Series’ market segment is its brand-new combination of a steel main structure and aluminum roof: The light-metal roof saves approximately 7 kg/15 lb., and because this savings is at the vehicle’s highest point, lowers the center of gravity and further contributes to vehicle dynamics. The doors are also aluminum, saving a further 48.5 lb. As on the predecessor, the hood and front fenders are also aluminum, making for a significant contribution to these automobiles’ overall weight efficiency.

Outstanding occupant protection at all seating positions

Robust structural elements, extensive and precisely defined deformation zones, and highly efficient restraint systems coordinated by the powerful control electronics form the basis for the high level of occupant protection in the new 7. Consequently, these vehicles are well positioned to achieve excellent ratings in all crash-safety tests worldwide. Impact forces are transmitted along defined paths in the floor, side, bulkhead structures and roof into deformation zones that hinder or prevent them from reaching the passenger cell. For the structures that serve as these force paths, multi-phase steels as well as a new generation of heat-formed steels have been introduced, further contributing to the structure’s weight efficiency.

Complementing the structural excellence are standard front-impact and side-impact (pelvis/thorax) airbags, as well as, a curtain-type Head Protection System. 3-point safety belts are provided at all five seating positions, all of them with force limiters and the front ones with electric pretensioners. For whiplash protection, Active head restraints are standard on both front seats. LATCH attachments (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) provide for securing a child restraint seat at each outboard passenger-seating position. All restraint systems are controlled by a central electronic control module that evaluates collision type and severity and activates them accordingly.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254900

BMW pioneered Adaptive Brake Lights, whose lighting intensity increases when vehicle deceleration exceeds a certain level and thus warns following drivers that the BMW ahead is braking hard. Since their introduction by BMW, similar systems have been introduced elsewhere.

Extensive array of features enhancing forward illumination and outward vision

It probably goes without saying that Xenon headlights are standard on the new 7; but these are just the beginning of an extensive array of advanced, beneficial and enjoyable features that enhance these cars’ forward illumination.

For example, the luminous “Corona Rings” that have become a BMW identifier in recent years are now utilized for the Daytime Running Lamps, adding visual distinction to a safety precaution favored by many drivers. Adaptive control swivels the headlights according to steering input, yaw rate and vehicle speed to aid forward illumination around curves; and for the first time, the lights’ auto-leveling takes into account road topography (such as hill crests, tunnels, steep ramps) and adjusts their aim up or down as appropriate to avoid blinding oncoming drivers. At low speeds, cornering lights help the driver “see around” city corners; for backing up, on U.S. models both cornering lights (left and right) illuminate.

World premiere: BMW Night Vision with enhanced recognition.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254895

Via an infrared camera, the optional Night Vision scans a range up to 1600 ft. ahead of the vehicle over a 24-degree-wide range. Another first for the new 7 is this additional capability: recognition of the direction a pedestrian near the roadway is moving. If it’s parallel to the road, the system senses and displays the presence on the iDrive screen (or, if present, Head-up Display) but doesn’t warn the driver; if the person is on a path to cross the road, it does display a warning.
Cruise control with braking ability standard; Adaptive Cruise Control optional.

The 7 Series’ standard cruise control adds new functions. One is the ability to apply the brakes to maintain the set speed on longer downhill stretches; another is continuously monitoring the vehicle’s lateral acceleration and adjusting the speed if rounding a curve too quickly would upset passenger comfort.

Adaptive Cruise Control is optional; in addition to the speed-maintaining, acceleration and deceleration functions of the standard cruise control, ACC can adjust the BMW driver’s speed according to traffic conditions via radar sensors at the front of the vehicle. Like the standard cruise control, the new 7’s ACC adds a new capability.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293295

One of these is Stop-and-Go, which can bring the vehicle to a complete stop if traffic calls for it. After a stop of more than 3 seconds, the driver must step on the accelerator or select Resume to accelerate back to the set speed or whatever speed the radar sensors allow.

Driver Assistance Package: three further enhancements of outward vision.

U.S. models of the new 7 offer three safety-enhancing features in the optional Driver Assistance Package. One of them, Active Blind Spot Detection, is new to BMW; the other two have become available in other BMW vehicles recently. All are new to the 7 Series.

Employing a camera near the interior rearview mirror, Lane Departure Warning monitors road lane markings. When switched on, anytime the vehicle begins to move across a lane marking without the turn signals activated, this system vibrates the steering wheel. If the driver does activate the signals, LDW does not react.

With the new Active Blind Spot Detection, radar sensors at the rear of the vehicle monitor traffic in adjacent lanes taking in an area from the driver’s blind spot rearward 60 meters/almost 200 ft. An illuminated triangular warning LED appears in the exterior mirror if there is a vehicle in this critical area. If the driver activates the turn signal, the LED blinks and, as with Lane Departure Warning, the steering wheel vibrates to warn the driver not to make a lane change.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293275

High Beam Assist is the Package’s third feature. Controlled by a sensor on the interior rearview mirror’s forward side, switches automatically between low and high beams. With this function, the driver need not switch between low and high beams manually, thus, removing a distraction. The high beams are likely to be used more often; and other drivers and pedestrians are less likely to be blinded by high beams inadvertently left on.

Hard drive for audio and navigation systems.

The new 7 comes standard with a 40-GB hard drive, which provides fast access to navigation data and space for approximately 13GB allocated to music storage.

Music data from a CD, MP3 player or USB stick can be transferred to the hard drive then accessed at will. Via iDrive, users can enjoy programming from a personal music collection, directly from a CD or other external player, or the radio. Individual music pieces (“songs”) are listed alphabetically by their title and performer, and thus, easily located.

The standard audio system includes a DVD player and auxiliary audio input. Available options include a Premium Sound Package consisting of upgraded amplification and speakers, 6-disc DVD changer and iPod/USB adapter. The available Sirius Satellite Radio option includes a 1-year subscription to the service. HD Radio with Multicasting, which BMW pioneered as an automotive audio option is standard in the new 7 Series. Two DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) tuners provide not only enhanced FM and AM sound, but also allow a given station’s audio program and traffic advisories to be received. Should the vehicle leave the station’s digital broadcast area, the system automatically reverts to the same station’s conventional broadcasting.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293274

An also optional Rear Entertainment System provides two 8-in. screens integrated into the front seats’ head restraints. The system is capable of reading a DVD either from its DVD player or the DVD changer included in the optional Premium Sound System. The system allows for 1 internal input, 1 internal + 1 external input or 2 external inputs (such as a game console). The result is that each rear passenger has complete control over their respective screens.

Navigation system: standard, and incorporating the highest technology level

Standard in the new 7 is a newly developed and optimized GPS Navigation system with high-resolution 10.2-in. monitor (this is also the iDrive control display), dramatic 3-dimensional map views and a host of functional innovations. The system is impressive, not just for its beautiful screens, but also for user-friendly, intuitive operation. Displays that include a graphic representation of the controller itself make selection and activation of functions easier. Split-screen displays give route directions left and preview maps right; in addition to routes and destination, traffic information on the route is also delivered. Especially impressive are the full-screen views of the large monitor making it possible to view fine details of the map. A help screen is available for further information.

The special map perspective provided in the Highlight Traffic Conditions option offers additional convenience with current congestion reports presented as road sections marked red. This can be highly useful and time-saving, equally in urban, suburban and Interstate or freeway driving.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293280

The GPS guidance has been enhanced with 3-D topographical and mapping plus a more detailed directional arrow display.
The high resolution screen combined with the 3-dimensional views make using the new navigation system a unique experience. Topographical map views add value to route guidance through mountainous or hilly country. At smaller map scales, say up to 25 m/82 ft., 3D representations of actual buildings improve user orientation, especially in urban areas. In a more rural landscape, notable buildings or points of interest are easier to find, and easier to determine if such a point is coming up soon and if it’s worth a stop.

The directional arrow display now provides a detail view of the upcoming direction point and is able to direct the proper lane to be in and exactly when the driver should turn (especially in complicated intersections) – from the control display directly into the instrument cluster or, if equipped, Head-up Display.

4-zone automatic climate control: optimum comfort for all occupants

The previous 7 Series already included many premium features in its automatic climate-control system, such as dual-zone controls for the front compartment, automatic recirculation, automatic ventilation to use when the vehicle is left standing in the sun, heat-at-rest providing heating for several minutes after the engine is shut off, and temperature/volume-controlled air for the rear seating compartment.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 293282

Yet, here too, BMW has not simply rested on existing excellence: U.S. models of the new 7 Series come standard with 4-zone climate control, which provides individual left/right control of temperature and air volume just as in the front. The 4-zone system adds a rear control panel, plus an electric heater in the rear footwells; the front center-of-dash air outlets are volume-adjustable from a gentle breeze up to vigorous air delivery.

Rear seats with Active Ventilation and Active Support.

Available for the long-wheelbase 750Li model is a Rear Comfort Seats option consisting of multi-adjustable rear Comfort seats with Active Ventilation and Active Support, the latter being a “massage” feature. Multiple internal fans gently direct cooling air through special perforated leather on the seat cushions and backrests. Multiple internal bladders create a gentle, virtually imperceptible motion in the seating surfaces to help relax thorax, shoulder and lumbar regions promoting comfort and helping prevent cramps on longer journeys.

Effective and elegant lighting, innovative Contour Moonroof.

Elegant light bars set accents on the new 7’s door handles, door panels and storage pockets. U.S. models add as standard equipment a new way of distributing ambiance lighting, whose rays are “broken” by a prism structure to bathe certain interior surfaces with a subtle glow. This harmonious illumination not only helps occupants orient themselves in the cabin at night, but also enhances the interior’s high-quality character.

An esthetic subtlety is delivered by a new moonroof design, standard on U.S. models. Its 60 x 92-cm (23.6 x 36.2-in.) glass area makes the interior feel brighter and roomier; its front edge is curved parallel to the roof’s front edge for an unusual design touch. Functional improvements figure in this concept, too: a powered interior shade replaces the former manual one, obviating the need for a handgrip recess. And the forward wind deflector rises to different height positions on the basis of vehicle speed, more effectively taming potential low-speed air drumming or high-speed wind noise.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254901

All-seeing: Park Distance Control, rearview camera and sideview camera.

Park Distance Control, BMW’s ultrasonic-based parking assist system, remains standard as the 7 Series moves into its new generation. PDC warns the driver via beep tones when the vehicle approaches obstacles, at the front or rear, which may be unseen.

New, however, are both a rear-view and a side-view camera to further assist parking and maneuvering convenience and safety. Both are included in the optional Camera Package. The rearview camera transmits a high-resolution image to the iDrive control display, plus –

  • A graphic representation of the vehicle’s actual path
  • Static lines showing the vehicle’s trajectory with maximum steering angle (minimum turning radius). These two paths are visually differentiated from each other.

The side-view camera consists of two further cameras, one each in the front bumper’s corners, which transmit views toward the sides to the control display. This feature resolves that troublesome situation when one is emerging from, say, an alley or garage exit onto a busy street by giving the driver an “advance” view of traffic – and helping to avoid an accident.
Both of these camera systems are de-activated at normal driving speeds.

World’s first Integrated Owner’s Manual.

The amazing spectrum of new features, technologies and capabilities offered by the new 7 Series is rounded out by yet another first: the Integrated Owner’s Manual.

Analogous to the Help functions of today’s computers, BMW now delivers the owner’s manual electronically, via iDrive. In just seconds, the user can access information on virtually any detail of the vehicle’s equipment, systems, operation, etc…like a traditional owner’s manual, only better. Subjects are presented in a multimedia format of animations, slide shows with sound and written description.

2009 BMW 7-Series
- image 254877

In another new-age, highly desirable departure from the traditional owner’s manual, the IOM is vehicle-specific; that is, the version that goes with each new 7 Series vehicle corresponds to that exact vehicle with its specific model designation and options. Various information paths – brief instructions, picture search, and keyword and context searches – are available to the user. The user can also store specific subjects on the Programmable Memory Keys. In addition, the IOM can be updated as appropriate via the BMW center.

Alina Moore
Alina Moore
Alina Joined the team in the early 2000s as one of the outlets very first experts, and she’s been with ever since. Over the years, she’s served various roles, but today she’s is relied on heavily to verify automotive facts, assist with formatting, and discover new and engaging topics.  Read full bio
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments


  (520) posted on 07.9.2008

disappointing, i expected more luxury, more power, a different design, but they came up with that expensive thing. BMW should let making luxury cars to the experts from Mercedes.

hsal8  (35) posted on 07.6.2008

this... this is the 7-series???????
It’s no where near the S-class!!! It’s interior doesn’t seem as impressive (though those TV’s in the rear wid a control system do the thing...) I was expecting a whole lot better from BMW designers than the humongous new grilles...

hsal8  (68) posted on 07.5.2008

i hated this car when i first saw it. i was absolutely dissapointed. but the more i saw it, the more i started to like it. it will be awesone, especially with its 4.4 v8 engine.
i agree with you though alex, they should start making cheaper cars but still maintaining its luxury class.

hsal8  (31) posted on 07.4.2008

Usually I like BMW but this time they took a turn for the worst with the 7 series.The grill looks bigger than usual.
BMW should start making cheaper sportier cars,then thier sales would go way up.Then they wouldnt have to worry about losing to much money if they make a car that doesnt sell to much.

BMWM6  (486) posted on 07.4.2008

I understand pdaix but still you dont understand its not lazyness its just that the quattroporte is luxury and sporty while the bmw is pure luxury for example you cant say a rolls-royce is sporty because it was designed to be luxury same with the 7 series but its not as luxury as a rolls-royce

pdaix  (434) posted on 07.4.2008

I still cannot believe this is the fruit of years of research, development and ... design...

My God, BMW designer are catching the same lazyness that plagued Porsche for 30 years

Only problem the previous 7 series was never as striking as the 911.

Why didn’t they push the & series closer to the CS concept ! This really looks heavy and luxurious but we want to see BMW slim and sporty.. look at the Maserati Quattroporte success...

We’ll see how it sells, but for me if I had the money, I’ll go for the new S-Class... much better looking, at least looking new !

BMWM6  (486) posted on 07.4.2008

this may not be what we expected but dont let that blind you this is still better than the old model in sportier terms now it could be better but i dont think BMW can all of a sudden launch a mimic of the cs concept they can take bits and peices but they cant give the effect unless using the same body and the cs doesnt seem to match a luxury model but again we might see the cs inspiring the next generation m6 because the m6 is sportier model all in all i could have expected more but this is better than last generation

Car Finder: