Traditionally, when BMW unveils its largest and most luxurious car—the 7 Series—it includes new technologies and design elements that you can expect to work their way into the rest of the lineup in the coming years.
The wrapper just came off the next 7 Series, and with everything from carbon fiber and hybrid drivetrains to laser beams and remote control parking, it's one hell of a high-tech statement.
Yes, those are laser beam headlights up front. They'll light up the night for well over a third of a mile in front of you without blinding anyone in your path. Note the oversized front grille. If it reminds you loosely of the recent 3.0 Homage, you're on to something. You can expect more large grilles in BMW's future.
Also in BMW's future: Hybrids everywhere. The 740Le is capable of over 110 mpg, despite having 326 hp behind that grille. Should you feel the need to engage silent mode, you can still hit 75 mph or go around 25 miles without using so much as a drop of gasoline.
Inside, things get a little crazy. 3D sensors monitor your hand movements, so you can adjust things like the radio or accept phone calls with specific movements that amount to secret handshakes for your car.
The panoramic glass roof is actually an imprinted screen that, at night, is hit with LED lights to mimic a sky. When you get out, more LEDs illuminate the ground in front of you to provide a virtual welcoming carpet.
Naturally, every seat comes with air conditioning and massagers, but the rear seats go even further. With something called a "vitality program," the seats essentially make you exercise "for recuperation purposes." It's not yet clear how you can work out in the back, but we know they do recline almost fully—which is not only relaxing, but could also help you, um, "exercise" for recuperation purposes.
As cool as the interior is, it's what you don't have to do when you're driving that's really impressive. The 7 Series will be the first car on the market with fully functioning remote-control parking. The idea is that you can get into spots without worrying about whether you can open your door. The remote has a full display that let's you see everything the car sees, so you can tell it to stop if it's too close for comfort.
You also don't have to worry about traffic, thanks to a Traffic Jam Assistant that handles most of the mundane tasks of your morning two mile per hour commute.
Perhaps the most impressive thing on the entire car, however, and certainly the one that'll have the most impact on the rest of the BMW lineup, is the extensive use of mass-produced carbon fiber reinforced plastic. The car is significantly more rigid than before, which allows for better comfort and performance, and it's also 250 pounds lighter.
Welcome to your next generation of BMWs.
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