Driving BMW’s 2016 7 Series: the $81300 contradiction – The Verge

Posted: Monday, August 31, 2015

And therein lies the 7’s greatest contradiction: being driven in it is heavenly, and you can completely disconnect from the world around you if you want. But at the same time, it’s just as wonderful to drive. I had the uprated 750i xDrive model, featuring a 445-horsepower V-8 that’s good for 0-60 in a healthy 4.3 seconds. BMW is touting this car’s extensive use of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) — the strong, light material used in the chassis of the i3 and i8 — and I’m a believer. Between the engine and the weight reduction, I felt like I was driving a much smaller car. Selectable drive modes include a Sport mode — which changes the suspension damping, power steering, transmission mapping, and the appearance of the full LCD instrument cluster — and if I’d been blindfolded, I might have guessed I was driving a 5 Series, or even a 3. (I don’t recommend driving blindfolded, but you get my point.)

In the twisties, this car made me want to drive: it was responsive but refined, endlessly powerful without being raw like an M4. (I drove over a couple decent potholes, and apart from a dull “thud,” I couldn’t feel a thing.) But then there are other times where I just wanted to kick back: the drive home from the test facility, for instance, where heavy eyelids nearly had me pulling off to the side of the road for a nap. As you might expect, this 7 is just about as self-driving as today’s regulations will allow it to be: on highways, you can basically go hands-off. In Europe, the car can even park itself, but US rules require someone to be in the driver’s seat — currently.

The rise of car services and autonomous tech has the entire automotive industry in an existential crisis. Here, though, BMW is making a compelling case that even in the age of the Google Car, you’re still going to be able to have your cake and eat it too: when driving is fun, go ahead and drive. When it isn’t, don’t. The technology for doing both is getting better, weirder, crazier, and more entertaining than it’s ever been before. In fact, I’d take it even a step further; in order to convince me that a fully autonomous car that can’t be driven is a good idea, BMW and its contemporaries are going to have to get a lot worse at making cars fun to drive.

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