Sipping champagne on a yacht as we sail along the coast to our five-star hotel on the Côte d’Azur, there’s only one word to describe it – luxury.
And that’s the whole point really – for this is the launch of BMW’s flagship 7 Series, a model which the company says “has luxury in its DNA”.
This is the sixth incarnation of the 7 Series – the first made its debut back in 1977 – and according to Steve Chater, general manager of product and market planning for BMW, it is the luxury saloon with the soul of a sports car; a “world-leading executive performance saloon with pioneering design and innovative technology”.
Considerable emphasis has been placed on the high quality of materials and workmanship, as well as very close attention to detail. The new technology includes Remote Parking, Touch Command, Laserlight headlights, Gesture Control and an Ambient Air system which allows you to tailor the scent of your car in a range of fragrances, from relaxing and mellow to invigorating and refreshing.
Marginally longer, but no wider than its predecessor, the new 7 Series is unmistakably a BMW, with that iconic kidney grille – but this one features Active AirStream vents, improving aerodynamics as well as allowing for more efficient warming and cooling.
Look closely at the Laserlight headlights and you’ll see exactly what BMW mean when they talk about the close attention to detail on this model – there are literally hundreds of little ‘7s’ etched around them.
Step inside, and the sense of luxury is immediately apparent – whether you’re the driver or a passenger. From the plush carpeting to the buttery-soft Nappa leather interior, it’s all about comfort and wellbeing.
As you would expect, the 7 Series is equipped to a high specification – the list is almost endless, but includes four-zone air conditioning, a 10-inch infotainment system, wood interior trim, heated seats (which also offer a massage option), reversing camera and parking sensors.
A lengthy list of options is also available, featuring such delights as a heating package which heats the armrests as well as the seats and steering wheel, night vision and the new Remote Parking system, which allows the car to be parked without the need for the driver to be behind the wheel.
And then there’s the iDrive system – a new touchpad mimics smartphone controls such as swiping and pinching, while the gesture control allows you to deliver a range of simple commands with just a flick or wave of the hand.
The BMW EfficientLightweight concept means that the models in the new BMW 7 Series line-up are up to 130kg lighter than their predecessors, despite boasting a significantly greater number of comfort and safety features. In addition, both the petrol and diesel engines are more efficient than their predecessors, and a plug-in hybrid model is due to arrive next year.
Continuing with the theme of comfort, the ride can only be described as superb – the new air suspension system means you are literally floating on air, but you can switch to Sport or Adaptive modes to suit the driving and road conditions of the moment.
Given that BMW anticipate high levels of sales in the chauffeur-drive limo market, you’d expect rear seat comfort to be exceptional – and it doesn’t disappoint. There’s an electrically operated fold-out footrest and a centre console with featues the new BMW Touch Command unit, incorporating a removable tablet to control functions like the seat adjustment, ambient lighting and air conditioning, as well as the infotainment system. It can also be used to watch videos, as a games console or to surf the internet.
And of course, you can personalise your 7 Series with everything from the choice of paint to the fine-grain leather, with its woven-look quilting and hand-woven piping. Your initials can also be incorporated into the design, should you desire...
BMW hope to sell around 1,400 7 Series models in its first full year of sales – in a sector which is very much dominated by the Mercedes S Class at present. With class-leading efficiency and whole-life costs, BMW says the 7 Series is “redefining luxury” and hope to make inroads into that. Prices start at £64,530.
Car in facts:
Engine: 3.0-litre turbodiesel producing 26bhp, 457lb/ft
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving rear wheels
Performance: Top speed 155mph, 0-62mph 6.2 seconds