The internet is once again in a tizzy, wild bickering over design. This can only mean one thing: BMW has launched a new car. And that’s what has happened. BMW unveiled the redesigned 7 Series and its i7 counterpart this week, and people are finding the design polarizing.
2023 BMW i7
2023 BMW M760e xDrive
Has Series 7 always been so confrontational? Opinions are divided? Not at all, we’d say. For a long time, the Munich mainstay was the epitome of elegance and fine proportions. But especially in the last few generations, there have definitely been outliers on the downside.
We take a look back at the previous six model series and how we feel about them, including the all-new 2023 7 and i7 Series. Which Series 7 is the most beautiful in your opinion? Let us know, in the comments section below this article.
7 Series E23 (1977 – 1986)
The first generation BMW 7 Series (E23) looks very tiny from today’s point of view. We think it’s aged beautifully, with a shark nose and all the chrome, and it’s a classic today that’s still relatively affordable. “With its elongated body lines, driver-oriented cockpit, powerful engine and sophisticated chassis technology, the 7 Series lived up to its claim to be a sporty luxury sedan from the start,” said BMW.
Innovations include the world’s first electronic speedometer, speed-sensitive power steering and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors. In 1980, the world’s first onboard computer with an outdoor temperature display was added.
In 1979, BMW replaced the carburetor engine with a more fuel-efficient gasoline injection engine. The BMW 728i replaces the 728 and 730 models, and the previous 733i is replaced by the 732i, which debuted with the world’s first digital engine electronics.
The previous year, the BMW 735i, with a displacement of 3.5 liters and 218 horsepower (162 kilowatts), was added to the range. The top model in 1980 was the BMW 745i, powered by a 252-hp (187-kW) six-cylinder engine with exhaust gas turbochargers and air cooling.
Series 7 E32 (1986 – 1994)
BMW had originally planned the second 7 Series to be a sophisticated and ultra-slim aerodynamic sedan, but Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle, who later became head of development, was able to stop the project at the last minute in favor of a much more prestigious form. His goal of embedding the V12 initially caused unbelievable astonishment within the company. The rest is history.
With its harmonious lines, sporty handling and innovative chassis control system, the new 7 Series made a stunning debut in 1986. For many, the E32 remains the most beautiful 7 Series to this day.
At the front of the vehicle, BMW’s wide kidney shows a strong presence, while L-shaped taillights are introduced at the rear as a new trademark. The BMW 7 Series is also available in a long-wheelbase version for the first time. Among the most important technical innovations is the ASC slip control system with electronic accelerator pedal and drag torque control.
Then, in 1987, the first German twelve-cylinder sedan arrived since the late 1930s. The five-liter V12 light alloy engine has separate injection, ignition and catalytic converter systems for both cylinder banks and produces 300 hp (223 kW). Additionally, the AGS adaptive transmission control system made its debut in the twelve-cylinder model. In addition, two inline six-cylinder models and two V8 models are available.
7 Series E38 (1994 – 2001)
With almost unchanged exterior dimensions, carefully improved design, and added driving comfort and dynamics, the third edition of the BMW 7 Series continues the success of its predecessors. For us, the E38 is still the most interesting Series 7, and we are certainly not alone in this opinion. You couldn’t draw a sedan more elegantly and coherently.
Two eight-cylinder engines and a new edition of twelve cylinders were available at the outset. The displacement of the V12 is increased to 5.4 liters, and the output is 326 hp (243 kW). At the same time, the BMW 750i’s average fuel consumption fell by about eleven percent.
With the new driving stability system, the third generation of the BMW 7 Series is also a pioneer in the field of active safety. In addition to the anti-lock braking system, the eight-cylinder model receives Automatic Stability Control (ASC) as an option. The 750i comes with ESP as standard.
The convenience and ease of equipment with a permanently mounted navigation system, whose color monitor can also serve as a display for other functions, also provides a significant boost. Eight airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard.
The BMW 725tds, introduced in 1996, offers a very economical alternative. Its 2.5-liter, 143-hp (106-kW) six-cylinder diesel engine impresses with its economy and smooth running. This was followed in 1998 by the BMW 730d with a three-liter six-cylinder engine, common-rail fuel injection, and 184 hp (137 kW). An early spotlight was the BMW 740d in 1999: The world’s first sedan with a V8 diesel engine and common-rail fuel injection produced 245 hp (182 KW).
7 Series E65 (2001 – 2008)
The fourth Series 7 (E65), commonly known as the “Bangle-7 Series” (after the then-chief designer, Chris Bangle), caused great horrors with its completely changed and very avant-garde design. More than 20 years after its debut, its image has changed a lot, and people look back on it for the better, especially considering many of BMW’s current designs.
With the new model, BMW sets the standard in many ways and provides a boost to the entire automotive industry. Examples are the iDrive operating system, which continues to be developed to this day, and elements of the modern BMW design language. Further innovations were followed in 2005 with Europe’s first night vision and high beam assistant system.
The newly developed eight-cylinder engine with continuous variable valve timing (double VANOS) and variable valve lift (VALVETRONIC) made its debut on the BMW 735i and BMW 745i models. Power transmission is handled by the world’s first standard six-speed
automatic transmission. The highlight of the series was the BMW 760i, launched in January 2003, with a 6.0-liter twelve-cylinder engine producing an impressive 445 hp (327 kW) and a maximum torque of 443 pound-feet (600 Newton-meters).
In the fall of 2006, BMW became the first automaker in the world to present a hydrogen-powered luxury sedan based on the BMW 760Li. The BMW Hydrogen 7, with its bivalent twelve-cylinder combustion engine, is the world’s first hydrogen vehicle to undergo a full series development process. It is produced in small series of 100 units and is available to selected customers for use in daily traffic.
In terms of driving dynamics and ride comfort, the 7 Series impressed at the time with its mostly aluminum chassis, electronic dampers and roll stabilization.
7 Series F01 (2008 – 2015)
The fifth generation of the 7 Series is once again significantly trimmed in terms of luxury, performing better but still quite pleasing. A completely redeveloped chassis, world premiere Integral Active Steering and exclusive driver assistance system stand out in the F01. In addition, there are innovative infotainment functions such as unlimited Internet use in the vehicle.
Six and eight cylinder models were available at market launch. The top models of the series, the BMW 760i and BMW 760Li, followed a short time later. A newly developed twelve-cylinder engine with a capacity of six liters, TwinPower Turbo technology and direct petrol injection is combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is also new. It develops an output of 544 hp (405 kW) and a maximum torque of 553 lb-ft (750 Nm).
In 2009, the new xDrive all-wheel-drive system was available for the first time in the 7 Series. Another first was the BMW ActiveHybrid 7, which combines an eight-cylinder combustion engine with an electric motor.
7 Series G11 (2015 – 2022)
New in Series 7 number 6 is a platform with a stack of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). Should have made it lighter, but, above all, very expensive. Highlights also include the plug-in hybrid system in the BMW 740e, motion control, Executive Drive Pro active suspension system, driving experience switch with ADAPTIVE mode, and laser beam. Executive Lounge equipment with massage functions and the Vitality program is a major contributor to well-being at the rear.
The driver assistance system includes remote controlled steering and lane guidance and parking assistants. The top engine choice is the new V12 engine with 610 hp (454 kW) in the M760Li xDrive. There are also three plug-in hybrid variants.
Things are interesting for BMW design critics with the facelifted G11 in 2019 because, at the request of markets in Asia and the Middle East, they installed a kidney in the face of the 7 Series in a size not seen before. His comments were mostly scathing, but that was only a prelude to what was to come.