Giving automotive safety a new twist, BMW adds two "light-armored" Protection Line models for the 7 Series, its flagship sedan.
The 740iL and 750iL Protection Line sedans come with Aramide (a fiber reinforcing material) armoring for the front footwells, doors, rear bulkhead, wheel housings and roof, plus bullet-resistant windows and run flat tires. Protection Line models seat four people instead of the usual five and add a separate rear telephone handset.
Sales of light-armored vehicles outfitted by aftermarket suppliers have grown in recent years, BMW says, and it is the first major automaker to offer them directly.
The rear-drive 7 Series comes in two sizes: The 740i is 196 inches long on a 115.4-inch wheelbase, and the 740iL and 750iL are 202 inches long on a 121-inch wheelbase. The extra length shows up in the larger rear doors on the 740iL and 750iL.
The longer 740iL and 750iL have even more rear legroom than the shorter 740i, which has more than enough space for taller passengers to sit comfortably.
New standard features on the 740i and 740iL are rain-sensing windshield wipers, headlamp washers and the Premium Package (a navigation system, Xenon gas-discharge headlamps, premium sound system and a six-disc CD changer). They were already standard on the 750iL.
Under the Hood
A 4.4-liter V-8 with 282 horsepower is under the hood of the 740 models. The 750iL has a 5.4-liter V-12 engine with 326 horsepower, the only current luxury sedan with more than eight cylinders. Mercedes is scheduled to add a V-12 for the S-Class for 2001. Both engines come with a five-speed automatic transmission.
BMW's Head Protection System for rear passengers is a new feature included with the optional rear side-impact airbags.
BMW's Head Protection System uses a tubular airbag to protect a front-seat occupant from hitting the side window.
Standard equipment includes dual-stage front airbags whose deployment force depends on crash severity and other factors, and side airbags and the Head Protection System for the front seats.