The BMW 7-series has been available since 1977 with plenty of revisions since then. The latest anticipated updates stem from Nurburgring photos and extrapolation to what the body, fascia, and grille changes could signify. Typical camouflaging also helps identify test vehicles on the streets of nearby towns, offering additional chances to make notes and take guesses. One high-end target appearing for photos is the M760Li xDrive, which could be adding some aerodynamic improvements to its role as a "performance limo." The coordination of models on which new features are appearing in test are raising the question of whether BMW will wait for 2020 to package and introduce the changes.
What are the apparent changes in the M760Li xDrive?
Reports indicate a redesigned hood, new lights, a new version of the M-class bumper and active kidney grille features to improve aerodynamics. This is a model which rumors suggested had a limited lifespan to go, but if it has some years to go then, the 601-hp twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 could receive some improved emissions performance changes.
The kidney grilles seem to be mentioned for a number of models seen lately. What role might they play overall?
On several models observed, the kidney grilles are larger and may play an active role balanced between engine cooling and aerodynamic performance. They also balance visually with the updated, reshaped headlights for a more intense front appearance. Above all this, there is clearly a new hood design in play as well. Since some of the test vehicles are likely to be the V12 model, the more aggressive appearance may be moderated on other versions.
There's talk of a revised grille which has already been seen on the X7 concept. What news is there of that?
Recent concept versions of the X7 have had some enhanced grille designs from pronounced to an almost Bentley-style appearance. Whether mainly for appearance or future performance needs, it does seem to be a trending design feature for the 7-series.
Bumpers and lights seem to be on the list, too. What about those?
New headlights and taillights with a thinner profile are appearing on these test vehicles, flanking and emphasizing the larger kidney grille. New front and rear bumpers appear to be under all that camouflage in the front and rear with specifics still to be determined.
Any new tech features mentioned yet?
No details yet, but given market competition and the timing of the update, driver assistance, and infotainment systems are sure to be receiving a big boost. An even bigger touchscreen display for this, the company's flagship, with updated iDrive software is a starting point. A new configurable digital instrument cluster which has already been demonstrated to the industry is surely included.
What about engine changes?
The second generation (the first was from 1989-1999) of the 8-series is expected to include a range of engines which would be backfitted into the 7-series as well. These would include V6 and diesel powerplants with improved performance and emissions and a redeveloped V8 with 4.4-liter displacement and 523 hp, 553 lb-ft of peak torque.
Is the market driving the timing of some of these changes?
It looks like it, both directly and indirectly. BMW has been updating the 7-Series as if in response to Mercedes S-class updates lately. Since 7-Series features and characteristics tend to pass down to other models over the following years, that pipeline needs to stay primed as well.
Will changes occur in the interior?
As the 7-series is marketed more to a higher-end luxury clientele, observers expect BMW to not only update the interior as part of the renewal but also aim it at the luxury market with high-quality leather, dash and door stitching, and other amenities.