BMW 7 Series
Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
The big 7-series from BMW has received a mid-life cycle refresh in 2019, and it featured numerous upgrades, from the hood to the bottom, inside and outside the car.
Most of the vehicle’s parts were either changed or upgraded. A new hood, new front fenders, new headlights, and new grille were offered for the 2019 BMW 7 Series LCI (Life Cycle
Impulse). The air breathers on the front fenders were designed to extract the air from the wheel-well, in order to reduce the aerodynamic lift of the car. In the rear, there was a full-width light strip, with a LED-strip.
Inside, the luxury was obvious and the two options for wheelbases could add more legroom for the rear passengers. For the facelifted model, full Nappa leather and BMW Individual Merino full leather with extended quilting were available.
The engine and transmission range was revised. For the hybrid version, a new xDrive system was available as an option. And, for the 8-speed automatic transmission, a launch-control mode was installed. For those who live their lives one-quarter mile at a time, the 6.0-liter V12 was still available, and with all-wheel-drive. One of the biggest changes in the engine bay was the 4.4-liter V8 unit. It had a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers installed between the two cylinder banks for faster response. It also gained 80 more hp compared to the engine it replaces and had a maximum output of 530 hp. In the 750i xDrive, the two-ton limousine cand sprint from 0 to 100 kph (0-62 mph) in 4 seconds flat.
The top of the class BMW 7 series has returned with a new attitude into a new generation in 2015 as a 2016 model year.
It is the first 7 series to be built on the CLAR platform, which means that it sits onto a carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer chassis, as seen on the i series.
Almost everything except for the greenhouse on the new 7 Series is brand new, including redesigned bumpers, side air vents, laser headlights now connected to a bigger kidney grille, taillights, exhaust tips, rims and paint colors. The same story goes for the interior too, with the model receiving redesigned seats, dashboard, and extra features, especially for the rear occupants.
Count in a night-sky-replicating panoramic roof with 15.000 LEDs, a new iDrive system, a 7-inch detachable tablet, massage seats, gesture control, Traffic Jam Assistant, remote parking, Laserlight headlamps and a lot more.
Under the hood, there are new engines with added power and better efficiency as well as a revised 8-speed automatic transmission. CFRP is used along with aluminum for weight reduction and all models now get a 2-axle self-leveling air suspension.
The 7 series is available with either rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive xDrive system. The available engines are either inline-6 cylinders or V8s, diesel, gasoline or as plug-in hybrid for the BMW 740e with four-cylinders and an electric motor with a total output power of 326 hp. A 12-cylinder M760i completed the lineup later.
The 7 series from BMW was on the market since 1977 and after many generations, it didn’t change its basic idea: a luxury car for the driver.
When the fifth generation of the 7 Series was launched in 2008 it was the big step away from the generation designed in the Chris Bangle era. The new look and the technical updates already transformed the car into a luxurious, fast, limousine that was nice to drive and comfortable on the back-seats.
In 2012, a mid-life cycle refresh was needed. The pollution norms were changed and new technologies should have been included in the BMW flagship vehicle. The exterior changes were not so important. There was a new pair of LED headlights on the front, with a redesigned bumper. The radiator grille had fewer slats on it. In the rear, the LED taillights were connected via a chromed strip.
Inside there were some significant changes in the front as well. For the 2012 7-Series, there was an option for an instrument cluster with a 10.25” black screen that replaced the analog gauges and dials. That brought some changes for the interior lighting that allowed different themes on the dashboard, related to the driving mode chosen by the driver.
For the back-seats, depending on the trim level and the options, the rear passenger was able to change the music or set-up the navigation system via an iDrive rotary-knob located in the center armrest. The new 750 d xDrive and the BMW 730d were equipped to comply with the Euro 6 emission limits.
The fifth generation of the BMW’s flagship sedan, the 7-Series, was introduced in 2008 and it debuted into a hard time, during the world economic crisis.
But it couldn’t wait any longer.
With the fifth generation, the 7-Series lost the older model coding with the “E” letter and passed to the new, F-Series cod names. The fifth-generation has received the F01/F02 name for that generation. It also was a change for the design language of the Bavarian brand.
The 2008 7-Series was the departure from the “Bangle” design of its predecessor and the return to a, somehow traditional design. The big headlights were not round or straight but shaped specifically to make a connection between the bumper and the front fenders. The grille with its kidneys was not integrated into the hood but kept in place along with the front fascia. Long, ample straight lines gave a visual sense of length for the vehicle.
Inside, there was a new interior with horizontal lines for the dashboard which were continued on the door panels. The technological package of the car was big. It featured a new infotainment system with an evolved iDrive. The instrument cluster offered a mix of analog and digital display, preparing its customers for the next series. Up to five video cameras were available to help the driver. One was for infrared forward view, two were mounted on the front fenders to look left and right, one was for reversing and another one looked for the traffic signs. The interior room was big, especially for the long-wheelbase version.
Under the hood, the 7-Series offered turbocharged gasoline and diesel units, available with rear or all-wheel-drive via a standard 8-speed automatic transmission.
The fourth generation BMW 7 Series received its first facelift in 2005, getting some slight styling changes on its front and rear sections.
Both the front grille and rear bumper were a bit heightened, while the car’s headlight and taillights were revised. Also, the model received a new 4.8L unit delivering 367 hp (replacing the previous 4.4L V8). A year later, new design updates were brought to the wheels and mirrors, while a newly-developed iDrive system was fitted as standard feature. The 760i variant was discontinued from the North American market starting 2007.
The fourth generation of the BMW 7-Series was one of the most hated and loved 7-series from all times.
It was hated for its look, but it was the car that was outsold its predecessors.
With the E65 BMW 7-Series, the design-guru from the German car-makers, Chris Bangle, launched a new design style in the company. It was named “flame-surfacing” and, in theory, made the car look different depending on the angle it was seen. On the other hand, it was the most advanced technological car on the road and it received a prize for that in Japan.
When compared to its sleek predecessor, the E65/E66 7-Series was bulky and big and with a huge grille in the front. It wasn’t sleek anymore and it wants to get attention on the road. The front bumper had to be sculptured to completely reveal the headlights while the rear end featured an arched quarter-panel which was not followed by the trunk lid’s shape.
Inside, the technology involved was overwhelming for those times. It was the first time when an infotainment system was controlled via a rotary knob that did all the commands. The system was developed in partnership with the Nokia phone manufacturer. The double-bulged dashboard, one for the instrument cluster and one for the infotainment screen, was another design issue found by the BMW fans.
In the back, it offered good legroom and plenty of it if the long-wheelbase (E66) version was chosen. The BMW 7-Series was available with a choice of gasoline and diesel engines from inline-six up to V12 units. It was the first BMW available exclusively with an automatic transmission.
The refreshed version of the 3rd generation BMW 7-series was released in 1998, offering new improved features and a more sophisticated design.
The facelift included revised headlights, new taillights, sportier suspension, new wheels and a torque converter. Also, BMW launched a new sports package that was initially available for the 740i version but later optional for both 740iL and 750iL variants (long wheelbase). The 728i engines were upgraded and featured variable valve timing.
Some other new features on the improved 7 Series included an automatic climate control system, front side airbags and a standard Head Protection System. The DSC came as a standard feature. Moreover, the facelift brought a new feature named “Active Comfort Seats” that was developed for fatigue reduction for both the driver and the front passenger. The head airbags became a standard safety feature.
Until 1998, the 740iL had a 4.4-liter V8 engine developing 286 hp and 499 nM, however, the facelift model had the same engine with an increased torque of 440 nM.
The trunk space was a generous 500 L and that’s only one of the reasons that made it an ideal car for long family trips. The 7 Series offered reliability, top-notch comfort, space and luxury.
The E38-based 7 Series was discontinued in 2001, as it was replaced by the 4th generation model (E65/66).
In 1997, BMW tried its luck with the BMW L7 750 iXL, a stretched version of the E38 7 Series.
It is longer by 250 mm (9.8”) than the long-wheelbase 7 series. And all this length is added for the rear passenger’s comfort. For this special version, the customization was taken to a different level for a production vehicle.
The vehicle was available with two or three seats in the back. If two seats were selected, a big, central console was installed. It included a small refrigerator, cupholders, separate climate control unit and the buttons for rear-seat heating.
The right-rear passenger had the option to control the right front seat via buttons in the central console. If the passenger needed, he could move the right seat forward, recline it and lower the headrest.
The car could also feature a communication center. The mobile phone technology was not new anymore, but not a common service either. Still, the L7 could have a Fax-machine in the back. On the optional separating panel between the front and rear seats and install a TV.
From the technical point of view, the V12 engine and transmission were standard. It featured the same 5-speed automatic transmission, but with different settings for smoother gear changes. The pneumatic suspension was adjustable, either for a smooth ride or firm, just in case of a getaway run.
The third generation of the BMW 7-Series was one of the most wanted luxury cars from its times and, for many BMW fans, it was the best 7 series ever made.
It was the link between the old technology and the digital era.
The E38 generation was the last BMW 7-Series which was available with a manual transmission. It also was the first production model BMW fitted with a V12 engine. It was a sum of comfort, luxury, and sportiness. And on top of that, it was also very fuel-efficient, when equipped with the 2.5-liter diesel engine, which was not available for the North-American market.
The car featured an unusually low height, seen only on the Jaguar XJ series. The car was fitted with dual headlamps covered under a clear-lens, with halogen or Xenon lights. It was available with a short or long wheelbase. For special order, the 7-Series was available with an extra-long wheelbase, for state and government officials, named L7.
Inside, the car featured five seats but due to the low height of the cabin and the high transmission tunnel, only two passengers could sit comfortably in the rear seats. There were few options for the sound system and even a telephone was installed between the front seats as an option.
For the engines, the German engineers offered a wide choice between 2.5-liter turbodiesel unit and a 5.4-liter gasoline V8 unit. Apart from the top of the range model, named 750i, the other versions were available with a 5- or 6-speed manual transmission. The only automatic transmission was a 5-speed, for the entire range.
The BMW 7-Series E32 was the first V12 car produced in Germany after WWII and at the time of its appearance in 1986 it was the most technologically advanced vehicle on the market.
The battle for the luxury segment was on the way between the two German giants Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The latter introduced the second generation of the 7-Series in June 1986 with a shy, inline-six engine. The manufacturer knew that over the time the car will need more power and they offered that with the V8 and V12 engines later on.
The design sketches started in 1979 and the final project was ready in 1984. But the BMW management held the project for another two years. In June 1986 the first series E32 left the factory. It was produced in over 300.000 units until April 1994.
The 7-Series was developed with a driver-oriented cabin, while Mercedes-Benz tried to offer more for the rear passengers. This is one reason why the E32 was very popular in countries where a lot of executives used to drive their cars. In this segment, BMW won hands down. The technological improvements such as the ASC (Automatic Stability Control) that prevented the wheelspin and the central console tilted toward the driver won the customer’s hearts. For the rear-seats owners, the 7-Series was offered with a long wheelbase that offered ample legroom.
Under the hood, there were various engine choices. While the V12 was famous for its performance, the 6-cylinder units were known for fuel-efficiency, especially when mated to the 5-speed manual.
Following the path of the New Six concept launched in 1968 with the E3 bodywork, the first generation of the BMW 7-Series was unveiled in 1977.
The first 7-Series started its climb on the ladder of success in 1977 with a lineup of vehicles that featured only six-cylinder engines. A prototype model featured a V12 engine, but it was just one of a kind. Its angled fascia resembled a shark nose profile.
The vehicle’s look was modern and it was a complete step away from the previous design trend. The only design idea that was carried over was the four rounded headlights concept. Other than that, everything was new. The flat, wide slightly upward hood was accompanied by a simple greenhouse and a descending trunk lid. The chromed bumpers were a fashion for the cars on those times. In 1983, when the facelift occurred, the kidney grille was enlarged and new plastic-covered bumpers appeared.
Inside the vehicle, the 7-series featured numerous innovations such as the service-control lights, climate control, and the on-board computer. The base model with the basic trim featured cloth seats and manual gearbox, but more amenities were added for the upper trim levels including sunroof, power windows, leather seats, and power locks.
The engine line-up started with engines with four-barrel Solex carburetors, but soon all the engines received Bosch fuel injection systems. The most powerful engine was the 286 hp 754i, a model that featured an inline-six unit, aided by a turbocharger.