2013 BMW 7 Series: First Look

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  • Competes with: Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class, Jaguar XJ, Bentley Continental
  • Looks like: BMW’s flagship gets a host of needed technology updates 
  • Drivetrain: 315-hp, turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder (740i/Li); 445-hp, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 (750i/Li); 535-hp, 6.0-liter V-12 (760Li); 335-hp hybrid system with a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder (ActiveHybrid 7); eight-speed automatic transmission 
  • Hits dealerships: Late summer 2012

As BMW has been busy updating its more affordable models — the 3 Series, X3 and 5 Series — the 7 Series has been left to languish with older powertrains and tech features. No more, however, as the 2013 7 Series gets a host of important updates, including a new standard eight-speed automatic transmission, a new hybrid powertrain and exterior updates, among other changes.

All models now come with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, which was previously only available for the V-12 and hybrid models. Auto start/stop and brake regeneration are also standard on the 740i/Li and 750i/Li, and a self-leveling rear air suspension is now standard on all models. A new Eco Pro button can decouple the engine when the vehicle is coasting from 30 to 100 mph, increasing fuel efficiency by 20%, according to BMW.

Speaking of fuel efficiency, the inline-six and V-8 benefit from a host of technology measures that enhance power and fuel efficiency, says the carmaker. The 3.0-liter inline-six, which is available on the 740i/Li, gets a new single twin-scroll turbocharger, a new direct-injection fuel system and Valvetronic timing system. For the first time, the 740i/Li will get BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The turbo 4.4-liter V-8 also gets an updated Valvetronic system, which when combined with other enhancements increases the motor’s power to 445 hp, up 45 hp from last year’s model. Combined with the new eight-speed automatic transmission, the six- and eight-cylinder powertrains are expected to get 20% and 25% better fuel efficiency over the current models, respectively (740i: 20 mpg; 750i: 17 mpg).

The ActiveHybrid 7 also gets a completely new powertrain this year. Gone is the eight-cylinder engine, it’s replaced by the same system found in the 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5. BMW says the system will improve efficiency by 14% over the re-engineered 2013 BMW 740i/Li. The ActiveHybrid 7 will only be available in a long wheelbase format, like the 760Li.

In terms of physical appearance, the BMW features a new, more angular front grille and a new front bumper. Taillight designs have also been enhanced. There’s a new optional adaptive LED headlight system (standard on the 760Li) that features both high- and low-beam LED lamps; most LED headlights today just feature low-beam LEDs with high-beam halogens. There’s also a new hands-free trunk opening system, similar to the one in the 2013 Ford Escape. You wave your foot underneath the rear of the vehicle and the trunk opens automatically.

In the cabin, the BMW 7 Series features new front seats that are more slender, freeing up cabin space. BMW says it added more sound-deadening materials to the B- and C-pillars and the trunk, as well as revised seals along the window frames and mirrors to further reduce wind noise. The individual Rear Seat Comfort Package (standard on the 760Li) now features an optional Rear Seat Entertainment Package, which includes iDrive controls and two 9.2-inch screens. There’s also a new Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system with 16 speakers.

The 740i/Li, 750i/Li and 760Li will go on sale later this summer; the ActiveHybrid 7 follows later this year. Continue below for more photos.

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