For 2013 BMW refreshed its entire 7-Series lineup and its ActiveHybrid 7–introduced as its first hybrid sedan in 2011, carried over in 2012 – may now be the most sensibly re-worked of them all.
The outgoing 7 hybrid was a sort of breathed-on 750i or 750iL with its powerful 4.4-liter V8 paired with a modest electric motor to theoretically give the performance of a V12 with the mileage of a V8. It was priced in the low six figures, there were few takers, and BMW has scrapped the whole system for 2013.
Now the hybrid version of the 7-Series utilizes essentially the same 3.0-liter six-cylinder based powertrain plus larger electric motor as found in the 2013 ActiveHybrid 5.
It was not an utter act of de-contenting the car, as the amenities are still plentiful, but under the hood, the ActiveHybrid 7 is not as close an alternative to the also-redesigned, V8-equipped, $119,910, and head-of-state-worthy Lexus LS 600h L.
By comparison, the BMW is actually now a value leader, and is priced midway within the 7-Series range – the same midpoint pricing strategy the ActiveHybrid 5 employs within the 5-Series, by the way, while the ActiveHybrid 3 is a 3-Series range topper, except for the M-Series versions.
The ActiveHybrid 7 starts at $84,895, thus positioned between the $74,195 740i and $93,895 750Li xDrive, and well below the $140,200 760Li and also pricey Alpina variants.
To top it off, its EPA-rated mileage is now 5 mpg better on the combined cycle and it still performs within the realm of a 7-Series, as would be expected.
As a full hybrid, the ActiveHybrid7 uses BMW’s latest inline-six twin-scroll turbo with an electric motor.
The gas engine contributes 315 horsepower, the same as in the 740i. The motor adds 55 horsepower and 155 pounds-feet of torque.
Because the two power sources achieve their peak at different points, combined output is rated at 349 horsepower and peak torque is 367 pounds-feet.
BMW estimates the ActiveHybrid 7 accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds.
As a full hybrid, it can travel on electricity alone up to 37 mph if “the driver goes easy on the accelerator.”
The car has a “coasting mode” which can shut off the gas engine when in motion, allowing it to travel emissions-free when possible.
“Intelligent energy management” lets the ActiveHybrid 7 analyze the driving situation ahead in order to prime the hybrid drive components for maximum efficiency.
Other features in the revised 7-Series flagship line include the world’s first electronically controlled damping system whose shock absorbers are adjusted individually at each wheel based on the condition of the road surface and driving style.
This suspension feature causes each wheel’s compression and rebound settings to be adjusted continuously and independently from one another.
BMW says a stiff chassis setting, for example, can be combined with comfortable responses to unevenness in the road surface.
These settings can be preset using the Driving Dynamics Control switch.
The car uses BMW’s aluminum double-wishbone suspension in front, with an integral-V rear suspension.
Another technology contributing to its road dynamics are “Integral Active Steering provides maximum agility and comfort,” .
This which combines the Active Steering system for the front wheels with rear wheel steering.
Of it, BMW says:
The optimized system control unit processes information on wheel rotation speeds, steering wheel movement, yaw rate and lateral acceleration to ensure optimum steering behavior for the driving situation at hand. Integral Active Steering also works with a variable steering ratio on the front wheels, which makes parking and maneuvering easier and enables impressive precision at higher speeds.
The rest of the ActiveHyrbid 7 is pure BMW 7-Series, chock full of technology and quality creature comforts.
As a hybrid, it must still perform within the demands of this model range, and BMW – as has Porsche, Audi, and Mercedes – has made sure this vehicle is not gelded just to save maximum emissions and mpg.
Rather, the formula has been to offer enhanced performance while marginally improving mileage and emissions.
The short story on the 2013 ActiveHybrid 7 is BMW substantially slashed its price, made it more ecologically sensible than before, and improved its value proposition for this upper echelon car.
If contemplating a 7-Series, it would appear to now make more sense to opt for the hybrid version than before, as perceptible downsides have been addressed in the redesign.
For more information, please consult BMW’s Web site.