The partially decommissioned Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base is a short drive west of Munich. It served as the home of the German Air Force Training School during World War II and is a convenient setting for BMW, which started as an aeronautical engineering company, to create a command academy.
We are here to experience the next generation of the BMW 7 Series. Against the background of retired aircraft hangars and airways, the company’s most advanced and luxurious sedan looks inspired by science fiction. The new 7 Series will hit the market before the end of the year as a 2023 model, and the lineup will include a new all-electric variant called the i7. We drove heavily camouflaged prototypes of both gas and electric vehicles on some of Bavaria’s most idyllic country roads, as well as several miles of unrestricted motorways.
In addition to the new electric variant, the 7 Series will continue to offer the 3.0-inline-6 and 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engines, both of which use a 48-volt hybrid system. There will also be a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Of the internal combustion models, we drove only a V-8, and it proved both smooth and powerful, with enough of the engine’s silent roar seeping into the cabin to remind you that you’re not into an electric car. BMW hasn’t released horsepower numbers, but, judging by the seat of our pants, they’re at least the same as what’s on the current 523-horsepower 750i.
The i7’s electric motor provides a similar speed. BMW has yet to share specific power ratings or battery capacity, but we were told to expect something close to the iX xDrive50 SUV with 516 horsepower and a 105.2 kWh battery pack. Range numbers are also unknown, although the iX delivers up to 324 miles of driving per charge, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Neither car is quite finished tuning, so we’ll reserve judgment until we can try a production version of each, but we’re hoping for the hiccups we’ve noticed — occasional sharp increases from the V-8’s eight-speed automatic and pedal brakes that showed a very smooth initial motion. On i7 – it will be worked on before auto launch.
All models will come standard with air springs, and the new car rides on a wider front and rear track than its predecessor. However, those hoping to make a comeback with sporty sedans will find themselves disappointed as the new 7 Series once again focuses on luxury, ride comfort, and cabin insulation. But thanks to the new rear-wheel steering and adaptive dampers, this next-generation car feels more agile than the outgoing model. Sport driving mode tightens things up a bit more and has more body control than you get with the default setting, which is oddly called Personal mode despite the lack of customization options.
The hustle and bustle of the big sedan on twisty sections of the two-lane country roads that link the area’s tiled villages proved the 7 Series could hold its own, but calm sailing is where the 7 Series shines brightest. The i7, in particular, is quiet at highway speeds with little wind or road noise penetrating the cabin.
When equipped with the optional Highway Assist, the new 7 Series is better prepared to handle long-distance crevices. This hands-free technology allows the driver to allow the 7-Series pilot to be on his own during periods of time on the highway. The system works similar to General Motors’ Super Cruise in that it uses a driver-facing camera to make sure those behind the wheel are aware of the road while handling all steering, braking and acceleration automatically. However, it is not limited to the pre-assigned methods.
The Highway Assist works well and allows for an easy transition between automated and conventional driving. For example, if the driver taps the brakes to take control temporarily, the system does not need to be reactivated. Alternatively, touching a steering wheel-mounted button returns the system to its previous setting and returns it to the driving task. Highway Assistant operates at speeds up to 85 mph, and will initially be exclusive to North America.
BMW has also revamped the car’s automated parking feature, called Parking Assistant Professional. The My BMW smartphone app controls the feature and now allows the driver to remotely park the car from outside the vehicle. The system can also reverse the car to get out of tight spaces, and if you’re not bothered about parking it yourself, it can even be programmed to navigate its way into your driveway and into your garage. However, this is not a robot server, as the driver has to stay near the vehicle and control it via the app during these maneuvers.
Through the heavy camouflage of the interior, we saw peeks of what appeared to be textured glass trim, and the densely stacked floor mats with quilted stitching seemed to suggest BMW had taken a cue from Rolls-Royce as it climbed the 7 Series. For those who prefer to drive, the seat The rear is as spacious as you’d expect and will offer an optional entertainment system that BMW calls the theater screen. It spreads from the ceiling and is 31.0 inches wide. The high-resolution 8K display uses Amazon’s Fire TV interface so you can stream movies, as well as access browsing the web via a 5G data connection, all controlled by touch screens built into the rear door panels.
Both the 2023 7-series and i7 will be revealed later this month, when we’ll see more of the interior. BMW expects the new 7 Series to enter production this summer, with deliveries to begin in November. Regardless of its shape and interior, the new generation of the 7 Series is shaping up to be impressive based on its technology features alone, which would have easily astounded the minds of historic Fürstenfeldbrook occupants.
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