2009 BMW 7 Series Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2008
FAST FACTS
  • Completely redesigned model for 2009
  • Evolutionary, not revolutionary design
  • Larger and roomier than its predecessor
  • Powerful twin-turbo V-8 powerplant
  • New ActiveHybrid 2-mode hybrid model
  • First BMW sedan to use double-wishbone front suspension
  • Loaded with innovative technology
  • Arriving in showrooms late 2008

Introduction

The BMW 7 Series is the flagship of the German automaker's model range. Only available as a 4-door sedan, the first generation appeared in the late 1970s with a 6-cylinder powerplant and a 4-speed automatic transmission. The second generation, introduced in 1986, heralded the 8- and 12-cylinder powerplants that would become standard in future models. That model also inaugurated the available stretched ("L") version for more rear passenger leg room. The third generation, debuting in 1994, brought satellite navigation and Xenon HID headlamps to the model range. The fourth-generation 7 Series, sold since 2002, introduced BMW's iDrive infotainment controller. All-new for 2009, the fifth-generation 7 Series continues the trend by headlining an all-new front suspension design for BMW sedans, and the next-generation iDrive.

Design

In 2007, BMW unveiled a concept car at the Shanghai Motor Show. That car, called the CS concept, was reported to reflect the styling direction of the new 2009 7 Series. In finished form, the new 7 Series borrows some styling cues from the sleek show car, but little else. Overall, the all-new flagship sedan from BMW offers little in revolutionary styling; in fact, it is quite conservative. The front of the 5-passenger sedan sports generous trademark BMW kidney grilles that are flanked by four covered headlamps and new LED daytime running lights. Below the grill, the 3-segmented air intake from its predecessor has been consolidated into one large blacked-out opening. The hood appears taller, most likely to accommodate a larger range of dynamic engine choices in the future. The side of the broad sedan features the automaker's familiar crease and BMW's traditional styling mark, the Hofmeister kink on the C-pillar. The rear of the new 7 Series exposes dual exhaust pipes, which had been removed on its predecessor. As in the previous model, a chrome strip just below the deck lid connects the tail lamps-now with prominent LED bulbs.

The interior reflects the same evolutionary design of the exterior. Anyone familiar with the current 7 Series will recognize the multi-adjustable seats, split armrests, and instrument layout. The transmission stalk, moved up to the steering column in the previous model, has returned to the console between the driver and passenger seats where it resides besides the next-generation iDrive controller. The iDrive system, BMW's answer to an all-inclusive single controller for the infotainment center, has been updated to be easier to use and offer drivers more functionality.

Hardware

The all-new 2009 BMW 7 Series is larger and more luxurious than the model it replaces. Under the skin the flagship sedan is equipped with a new suspension design utilizing many aluminum components to reduce unsprung weight and improve the ride, BMW says. In a first for a BMW sedan, the new model boasts a double-wishbone front suspension (first seen in the current model BMW X5). The rear suspension remains a multi-link design.

Under the hood of the 2009 BMW 7 Series, consumers will find the same engine that powers the BMW . In the 7 Series, the 4.4-liter twin-turbo 8-cylinder engine is rated at 400 hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission, the powerplant should push the sedan to 60 mph in just over 5 seconds, on towards an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. While European customers will be offered many 6-cylinder gasoline and diesel engine choices, the German automaker has not announced their availability in the United States. Customers seeking an energy-efficient luxury sedan should look at BMW's new ActiveHybrid model. Under the hood of this dual-power 7 Series is a 120-volt electric motor that will assist the twin-turbo V-8 engine. Working together, and utilizing regenerative energy, EPA fuel economy is boosted into the low 20's.

Technology

BMW delivers plenty of technical innovation with the 2009 7 Series. Standard across the model range is BMW's Dynamic Damping Control. The cockpit-adjustable electronic system gives the driver the freedom to choose between four modes (comfort, normal, sport and sport-plus) to control the suspension damping, transmission shifting, throttle sensitivity, and power steering assistance. If the vehicle is equipped with Active Steering-a BMW system that alters the steering ratio based on speed and steering wheel angle-the rear wheels will now adjust up to 3 degrees to help maneuver the car. The flagship BMW sedan will also offer night vision, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, rear- and side-view cameras, and massaging rear seats. Look for the arrival of the 2009 BMW 7 Series in showrooms later this year.
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