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Old 10-29-2009, 02:02 PM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default First drives BMW 7-series ActiveHybrid 7 (2009) CAR review





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How very BMW. The new ActiveHybrid 7 – Munich's name for its petrol-electric hybrid 7-series – is very much lodged at the top of the Seven family tree. Not for BMW to launch a sackcloth and sandals 7-series hybrid; this one sports a 4.4-litre V8, not one but two turbochargers and a 0-60mph sprint claim to worry many Porsches.

We lost count of the number of times BM execs stood up at the press conference and talked about 'driving pleasure' and 'performance'. This paints a clear backdrop to the ActiveHybrid 7's intent. Yes, CO2 and economy are better by nearly a fifth over the regular 750i donor, but they're hardly going to win you honorary membership of Greenpeace at 219g/km and 30.1mpg.

So the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is dirtier than a 730d or 740d?

Err, yes. But a diesel 7-series wouldn't see which way the hybrid Seven went in a drag race. Thanks to a compact electric motor built into the ZF eight-speed auto transmission, the ActiveHybrid 7 is relentlessly torquey and feels every second as fast as its sub-5.0 second sprint credentials suggest.

The electric motor is rated at 15kW or 19bhp – relatively small fry in the new world order of battery cars. But this is a mild hybrid, don't forget. Unlike the fully hybridised X6 ActiveHybrid, the 7-series isn't required to lug its substantial 2120kg girth on electric motion alone. It's more about tuning the drivetrain for ballistic thrust while still giving a nod to those demanding green emissions.

And why exactly is the ActiveHybrid 7 clean?

The engineers have tuned this car to shift up into top – eighth gear – at the earliest possible opportunity. You can barely hear the V8 most of the time until you acquaint pedal with bulkhead. The electronics then feed in battery power to create a tsunami of 516lb ft all the way from 2000-4500rpm.

Boy do you feel this on the road. There you are surfing along on a surfeit of torque, wafting past slower-moving traffic in refined peace. Kickdown and you're thrust back into your comfy 7-series seats in shocked awe. It's epically fast. My only gripe is that you never feel the full hybrid 'halo' effect of silent motion – a shortcoming shared by any mild hybrid.

At least the petrol engine cuts out at a standstill, saving petrol and allowing you a smug glow as you sit in saintly silence at traffic lights.

It sounds like a complex bit of kit. How has BMW packaged the hybrid gubbins?

The ActiveHybrid 7 is nowhere near as complex as its X6 sister. The SUV is a full hybrid and uses a very different set-up designed around two, not one, electric motors, four-wheel drive and the ability to drive on electric power for a couple of miles.

In the hybrid 7-series there's a new power control system under the bonnet to shuffle power between battery and internal combustion engine. Then there's the compact, 25kg electric motor housed in the auto transmission assembly. And finally there's the lithium ion battery, which sits in the far left corner of the boot, robbing the cargo bay of 40 litres.

The switchover between petrol and electric operation is impressively seamless. We noticed no electrical confusion or jerkiness in the drivetrain, apart from under braking. BMW claims pedal feel is unaffected, but we – and other reviewers – felt inconsistent braking response, as the combined effect of regenerative braking topping up the battery, conventional hydraulic braking retardation and the ZF eight-speeder changing down made it hard to brake smoothly without modulating pedal pressure ad infinitum.

Any other glitches on the ActiveHybrid 7?

Not many really. Jerky braking aside, the system works really well. The engine cuts out at standstill and restarts quickly enough not to raise your heartbeat. If you really step on it for a rapid getaway you notice a momentary pause, but it'll be fine for its intended limo usage. If you wiggle the steering wheel when stationary, the engine kicks in instantly to provide power assistance.

BMW has introduced a new electrically operated climate control system for this car, and it's claimed to provide cooling or heating for half an hour without the engine switched on. You can even operate it by remote control to warm your car up in winter as you munch your corn flakes and toast.

Elsewhere, it's the usual 7-series package: one of the nimblest big luxury car chassis on offer today; beautiful build quality; a modern, minimalist and gently divisive design ethic; a cavernous and pampering cabin; and so much technology that you'll wonder if it's all strictly necessary.

Verdict

It's small surprise the ActiveHybrid 7 won't be sold in the UK. It's devilishly expensive, knocking on the door of Ł100,000, and the emissions and economy just can't live with BMW's very good inhouse diesels. A small degree of re-engineering would be required under the bonnet to make right-hand drive possible and BMW correctly worries it wouldn't see a return on that investment.

But as a range-topping proposition aimed more at petrol-dependent markets, such as the USA, Russia, Canada and the Middle East, this is like a 750i+. Performance is devastating, the eco credentials impressive when you consider that thrust – and it's labelled with 'hybrid' badges and kick plates at every which opportunity. And that message to your colleagues, clients and staff will be priceless to many keen to adapt their profligacy to the zeitgeist.
http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Drives/...-7-CAR-review/


























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Old 10-29-2009, 04:14 PM   #2
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interesting but I'd rather have the diesel version
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Old 10-29-2009, 06:48 PM   #3
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Seems almost as pointless as the S400 hybrid.
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Old 10-29-2009, 07:39 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by SLegacy99 View Post
Seems almost as pointless as the S400 hybrid.
Faster and quieter? Seems like they should make all 7 series hybrids.
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Old 10-29-2009, 09:40 PM   #5
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I certainly cannot purchase one of these, but for equal comparison, my friend with a Civic EX drove my Civic Hybrid around for a weekend and expressed how much quicker it was than his Civic. It just feels quicker, the extra torque from the electric motor helps dramatically. Plus the CVT tranny is supper smooth compared to the 4 speed in his Civic. It is amazing how good a small electric motor helps provide a feeling of thrust. As time goes on I bet more and more companies will stuff an electric motor in the driveline just to get that all the time torque feeling.
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Old 10-30-2009, 12:03 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by JC View Post
Faster and quieter? Seems like they should make all 7 series hybrids.
19 Bhp really isn't gonna do that much and I'm willing to bet that maybe it will add 1 MPG. Not worth the cost or compromised trunk space. If I had to get one of these big sedans I'd go for the AWD LS600hL.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:23 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by SLegacy99 View Post
19 Bhp really isn't gonna do that much and I'm willing to bet that maybe it will add 1 MPG. Not worth the cost or compromised trunk space. If I had to get one of these big sedans I'd go for the AWD LS600hL.
That's like saying 'the 3 series doesn't have enough interior space...I'll take an Elise'.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLegacy99 View Post
19 Bhp really isn't gonna do that much and I'm willing to bet that maybe it will add 1 MPG. Not worth the cost or compromised trunk space. If I had to get one of these big sedans I'd go for the AWD LS600hL.
Moving a car the size of a 7 series isn't just about horsepower.

Quote:
The electric motor generates boost of approximately 20 hp and peak torque of 155 lb-ft.
Quote:
In total, the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 features a maximum system output of 455 hp and peak torque of 516 lb-ft (preliminary). Normally, this level of power output would require a correspondingly high increase in fuel consumption. The BMW ActiveHybrid 7, in contrast, combines its power with an equally impressive increase in fuel efficiency of about 15%.
http://green.autoblog.com/2009/08/12...-one-has-lith/
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:39 AM   #9
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I saw a regular one today..... So sexy!

BMW makes awesome cars... i think the only one i still cant bring myself to like through the years have been the roadster...and ive driven one!
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:30 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SLegacy99 View Post
19 Bhp really isn't gonna do that much and I'm willing to bet that maybe it will add 1 MPG. Not worth the cost or compromised trunk space. If I had to get one of these big sedans I'd go for the AWD LS600hL.
http://www.autospies.com/news/BREAKI...or-2010-49247/
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