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by Tim Beissmann

The updated 2012 BMW 7-Series has been revealed, showcasing a range of upgraded powertrains, refreshed exterior styling and a host of innovative new interior technologies that will arrive in Australian showrooms in October.

The revised international BMW 7-Series line-up includes four petrol engines, three diesels and a second-generation hybrid model, the ActiveHybrid 7, which is available in right-hand-drive for the first time. All models are now teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission, enhancing fuel efficiency and smoothness.

The entry-level 190kW/310Nm 3.0-litre inline-six BMW 730i is 13 per cent more fuel efficient than before, using 8.6 litres per 100km and emitting 199g of CO2 per kilometre.

Despite being more powerful, the 235kW/450Nm turbocharged version of the same 3.0-litre sees the BMW 740i be even more efficient, using just 7.9L/100km on the combined cycle, down from 9.9L/100km.

The new BMW 750i benefits from an upgraded engine that now produces 330kW of power and 650Nm of torque (up 30kW/50Nm). The twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 now sprints from 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds – four-tenths quicker than before – yet matches the fuel consumption of the 730i at 8.6L/100km.

The range-topping BMW 760i carries over its 400kW/750Nm twin-turbocharged aluminium V12 engine and its 4.6-second 0-100km/h sprint time, while fuel consumption falls marginally to 12.8L/100km.

The engineers have eked an extra 10kW/20Nm from the entry-level BMW 730d’s 3.0-litre diesel powerplant with it now producing 190kW and 560Nm, yet using just 5.6L/100km combined, down from 7.2L/100km.

Likewise, the BMW 740d now generates 230kW/630Nm and uses 5.7L/100km, representing a 17 per cent economy gain.

Sitting at the top of the diesel range is the all-new all-wheel-drive BMW 750d xDrive, which scores the 280kW/740Nm triple-turbocharged 3.0-litre engine from the M Performance range to accelerate from 0-100km in 4.9 seconds and burn 6.4L/100km.

The ActiveHybrid 7 teams the 235kW engine from the 740i with a 40kW electric motor for a combined peak output of 260kW and 500Nm of torque. Accelerating from 0-100km/h takes 5.7 seconds, yet the ActiveHybrid 7 averages 6.8L/100km, making it 14 per cent more efficient than the conventional 740i.

BMW Australia’s Piers Scott confirmed the refreshed range was expected to arrive in local showrooms in late October. Scott said the 730d, 750i and 760Li variants would continue to be offered in the updated line-up, while the upgraded 740i and the 740d (not currently offered locally) are under consideration.

The local range also appears set to be boosted by the new hybrid variant. The ActiveHybrid 7 has not been officially signed off just yet, but should to arrive here early in 2013 if it gets the green light.

Scott said there was no confirmation of a right-hand-drive version of the 750d xDrive at this stage, meaning it is off limits for our market, while the 730i would not be considered for Australia.

Rear-axle air suspension and an electric power steering system are now standard and designed to improve the 7-Series’ ride, handling and comfort for drivers and passengers. A rear-axle steering system is also available as an option, enhancing manoeuvrability.

Visually, the 2012 BMW 7-Series is differentiated by its new full LED headlights, redesigned kidney grille (now with nine slats instead of the previous 12), a three-level lower air intake, mirror-mounted side indicators, new shades of red in the tail-lights and additional chrome across the boot and rear bumper.

Inside, the 7-Series adds an upgraded satellite navigation system with 3D maps and split-screen display, full speech recognition with voice-to-text emailing and messaging, and a 10.25-inch multi-function instrument cluster screen.

Aiding drivers is BMW’s Night Vision, which displays a live video image from an infrared thermal imaging camera, and Dynamic Light Spots, which works in tandem with Night Vision to pinpoint detected objects and better illuminate them.

The Active Cruise Control’s ‘Stop & Go’ function allows it to safely accelerate and brake in heavy traffic without input from the driver, while the Driving Assistance Plus system with autonomous braking now operates between 30km/h and 210km/h.

Other features include the Speed Limit Info detector, automatic parking assistant and hands-free boot operation.

Added insulation in the B- and C-pillars, skirts and boot and intricate sealing around the window frames improves cabin quietness, creating the ultimate environment for listening to the new 1200-watt, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround sound system. Rear-seat passengers can also enjoy the new optional 9.2-inch screens positioned in the front seatbacks.

Australian pricing details will be revealed closer to the launch of the upgraded BMW 7-Series in October.

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