A fourth generation of BMWs high-dollar flagship 7 Series sedan arrived in the form of the 745i/745Li early in 2002 as midseason 2002 models. They come equipped with a V-8 engine and what the automaker claims is the worlds first six-speed-automatic transmission. The regular-size 745i went on sale in January 2002, and the longer-wheelbase 745Li joined it in March.
In the fall of 2002, BMW will introduce a V-12 sedan called the 760Li; it is a 2003 model. The prior 7 Series generation also came with a choice of V-8 or V-12 power. The 760Li made its first U.S. appearance at Detroits North American International Auto Show in January 2002, along with the 745i and 745Li.
The 6.0-liter V-12 engine in the 760Li will develop 400 horsepower. Its said to be the first BMW gasoline engine to use direct gas injection and Valvetronic technology. In contrast, the 4.4-liter V-8 power plant in the 745i and 745Li develops 325 hp and 330 pounds-feet of torque; both versions accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. The 5.4-liter V-12 engine that powered the top member of the previous 7 Series generation made 326 hp.
A new six-speed adaptive automatic transmission uses shift-by-wire technology, which is controlled with a selector behind the steering wheel. Steptronic manual gear changes can be made, while the standard 745i and 745Li have no manual-shifting provisions.
BMW claims that its new iDrive system produces a drastic reduction in and reorientation of controls that places the most-used controls in and around the steering wheel, while others are in a rotary-dial controller on a console between the seats. We actually dont want to sell a car to a person who has no interest in technology, said Tom Purves, chairman and CEO of BMW North America, at the Detroit presentation.
The styling is virtually identical to the 745i and 745Li, which has been praised by some for its freshness yet faulted by others especially for the rear-end design. Design elements follow BMW tradition and include the familiar twin-kidney grille, four headlights and a reverse kink in the C-pillar. Bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights operate with both high and low beams. An eyebrow turn signal appears above each headlight cluster, and a high-pressure headlight cleaning system is installed.
A new aluminum suspension with Active Roll Stabilization reduces body roll. Only a long-wheelbase version with pneumatic rear suspension and a V-12 engine will be offered. Noticeable styling touches for the long-wheelbase sedans include extra-wide rear doors, chrome-plated roof strips and chrome inserts in the bumpers.
Like both V-8 models, the 760Li will seat five occupants. Because it has a longer wheelbase than its mates, backseat occupants enjoy an additional 5.5 inches of rear legroom than they did in its predecessor. BMWs large sedans are well known for having enough space in the rear seat for taller passengers to sit comfortably, and the long-wheelbase models promise limousinelike rear-seat accommodations as well as longer doors for easier entry and exit. The door openings are infinitely variable rather than fitted with specific stops, and an optional Comfort Access system opens and closes the door as soon as the driver moves the door handle.
Rear passengers can have optional, separate automatic air conditioning with a cooling box for beverages. An electronically controlled sunblind for the rear window and a LOGIC7 stereo system will be standard. An optional video monitor and a 6.5-inch screen that fits into the tunnel console is available for backseat entertainment.
Under the Hood
BMWs new 6.0-liter aluminum V-12 engine produces 400 hp and teams with an adaptive six-speed-automatic transmission that incorporates Steptronic for manually selected gear changes. In European form, the V-12 is rated at a minimum of 408 hp and 442 pounds-feet of torque.
Antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats and BMWs Head Protection System are standard. Rear-seat, side-impact airbags extend BMWs inflatable tubular structure to the rear passengers. Front knee airbags will also be installed. BMWs automatic parking brake feature prevents rolling in stop-and-go traffic, while Active Cruise Control can maintain a set distance from the vehicle ahead.
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