Simple tweaks make for a better Seven
IntroductionIn the land of luxury, prestige is as important as bread and butter. And few badges inspire envy like a blue and white propeller stamped into the hood of a high-buck German sedan.
The 2006 model year marks the release of two updated models for BMW. The best selling Bimmer, the 3 Series, will now be offered to consumers with more powerful engines and updated styling – which, thankfully, lacks the much-maligned shapes of recent BMW products. That takes care of the bread and butter.
Addressing prestige is the job of the 2006 BMW 7 Series, the brand’s flagship that is now characterized by smoother and more attractive body lines, a simplified iDrive system (can you hear the wealthy masses rejoicing?), and a more powerful standard V8 engine.
Whereas ads for the 2006 3 Series can be seen on nearly every channel and billboard, BMW has spent relatively little time touting the new 7 Series. One may interpret this as BMW's way of saying "Fine. You were right. The last 7 Series could have been better." A whispered admission of poor styling decisions, if you will. With the 2006 7 Series it appears that BMW is offering an olive branch of sorts – the convoluted design stays, but in a concession to consumers and complainers it now more closely resembles the more traditional, conservative 7 Series of the past.
Prices of the BMW 7 Series have modestly increased over 2005. The 2006 BMW 7 Series 750i lists for $71,195. The 750Li goes for $71,195. For $110,695, drivers can get into a 760i. And for $118,095, BMW aficionados can drive a 2006 7 Series 760Li. All prices include a $695 destination charge.
New for 2006 is a more powerful base V8, which along with it brings a couple of new model names. Gone are the 745 models, replaced by the 750i and 750Li, both equipped with a 4.8-liter, dual overhead cam eight-cylinder engine, with 360 being the magic number for horsepower and torque. Peak horsepower is reached at 6,300 rpm, and maximum torque shows its stuff at 3,400 rpm.
Carried over from 2005 is the V12 fitted into the 760i and 760Li models. Horsepower is rated 438 at 6,000 rpm, and torque comes in at 444 lb.-ft. at 3,950 rpm.
Connected to both engines is a six-speed adaptive automatic transmission with a manual-interactive feature.
Since engine modifications are limited to the 2006 BMW 750i and 750Li, they are the only versions that will likely see any performance changes. Initial figures released by BMW suggest that the extra 35 horsepower provided by the new 4.8-liter V8 cuts a tenth of a second from 0-60 mph acceleration times, allowing the 750 to hit that magic number in 5.8 seconds – impressive for a full-size luxury flagship.
BMW officials claim that a few suspension adjustments will aid in the 7 Series’ handling at high speeds. Front and rear suspension bushings have been revised, as have spring rates and shock absorbers. In addition to the standard suspension setup, there are optional suspension settings that include BMW’s Active Roll Stabilization system and a new sport suspension.
Exterior changes to the 2006 BMW 7 Series are subtle, but as a whole they result in a more attractive vehicle. Forward of the windshield, the design has been tweaked, with a new hood, more linear headlight housings, and a reworked front bumper. Whereas the 2005 7 Series featured different grilles for the V8 and V12 models, the 2006 model offers one grille for all models. The side sills and rocker panels have also received some massaging. In the rear, the track has been widened by 0.6 inches, the taillights now wrap into the trunk lid, and the bumper is redesigned.
A new standard feature on the 2006 7 Series is BMW’s Brake Force Display, which effectively makes the brake lights appear brighter as more pressure is placed on the brake pedal. New exterior colors include Monaco Blue, Deep Green, Michigan Blue, and Barbera Red.
Inside, updates are relatively minor, with a revised steering wheel and instrument panel.
While the styling changes are noteworthy, more shoppers will likely be impressed (and relieved) by a simplified iDrive system, complete with new color schemes. The sound system is easier to access through the menus, the graphics are easier to read, users can scroll through simpler lists of options, and the secondary climate control operation has been completely revamped. Within the navigation screen, destinations can be entered by spelling the name of the location.
Buyers of the 2006 BMW 750i will enjoy such features as the 360-horsepower V8, 18-inch alloy wheels, front power seats, walnut trim, a tire pressure monitor, and Bluetooth phone capability (though a cell phone is no longer standard). Move up to the 750Li and get another 5.5 inches of wheelbase, chrome roof moldings, and even more ways to adjust those power seats.
The 760i model adds 78 horsepower thanks to its 6.0-liter V12. An electronic suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, a driver’s seat with massage, dark ash trim, and an upgraded sound system with a six-disc CD changer are also included. Besides the longer wheelbase, the 2006 BMW 7 Series 760Li swaps out the 20-inch alloys for 19s and features a unique interior ash trim.
Photos courtesy of BMW