BMW has continued its design push toward bigger, bluffer grilles, giving the 2019 7 Series 'LCI' a bold new nose inspired by that of the X7.
There's more to this mid-life upgrade than a fresh face – much more, in fact – but there's no ignoring the 7er's snout. BMW says the fresh kidney grille is 40 per cent larger than before, sitting on a nose 50mm taller than before. Both LWD and SWB variants have bodies 22mm longer than the outgoing car, with all other dimensions remaining the same.
Contrasting the huge grille and bluff front is a set of slimline headlights, LED units as standard or optional laser lights, once again aping those of the X7 SUV. You'll no doubt tell us how you feel about the new look in the comments, but opinion around the CarAdvice office is well and truly split.
Changes are less dramatic at the rear, where the taillights have gained a slimmer housing and 3D graphics. They're now linked by an LED strip across the boot lid, while the bumper detailing has been reworked for the jump to 2019. There are also new alloy wheel designs.
Behind the wheel, the existing interior architecture remains unchanged, but the central screen and driver display now house the latest BMW OS7.0 infotainment system from the X7/X5/3 Series. That means natural voice inputs, a wider range of options for the driver display, and quicker responses than currently offered by iDrive.
Rear seat passengers are now treated to a pair of 10-inch high-definition displays, complete with a Blu-Ray player, when the right options boxes are ticked. A wider range of Nappa leather colours are being offered, and the 'extended quilting' option has been added to the spec sheet.
Sound insulation has been added to the rear wheel arches, while there's more noise damping in the seat backrests, seatbelt sheaths, b-pillars and windows. Given the pre-facelift 7er wasn't exactly noisy, the LCI should be a proper deprivation chamber. Even the new engine mounts have been developed with interior refinement in mind.
A range of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains will be available, headlined by the V12 M760Li xDrive. It makes 430kW and 850Nm from its 6.6-litre displacement, with claimed fuel use of 12.5L/100km on the combined cycle.
Stepping down gets you the 750i xDrive, with 390kW and 750Nm from a 4.4-litre V8 engine, while the (diesel) 750d xDrive produces 294kW and 760Nm from its 3.0-litre displacement.
The 740d xDrive has the same inline-six configuration and displacement, but the outputs drop to 235kW and 680Nm, while the 730d (available with or without all-wheel drive) delivers 195kW and 620Nm.
As predicted, the plug-in hybrid 7 Series has been given a meaningful power and range boost, blending an electric motor with a 3.0-litre petrol inline-six making 210kW and 450Nm, for combined outputs of 290kW and 600Nm. It'll hit 100km/h in 5.2 seconds, and offers up to 58km of pure-electric range.
Air suspension is standard across the range, giving drivers the option of raising the ride by 20mm over rough roads, while the ride height automatically levels depending on what's in the boot. Ideal if you're carrying lots of shopping, or for mobsters who need to conceal their sensitive cargo from the local authorities.
With the right options boxes ticked, the updated 7er is available with the 'Integral Active' rear-wheel steering system designed to offer a tighter turning circle in town, while a camera-based predictive suspension system prepares the car for what's to come.
The latest suite of BMW active safety features are available, ranging from adaptive cruise control capable of taking charge between 210km/h and standstill, automatic remote parking, advanced lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking.
Production for the new 7 Series will kick off in March, with the first cars arriving in Australia around mid-2019. The model range should mimic that of the current model (730d, 740i/Li, 750i/Li), with the 745e to replace the 740e iPerformance.