BMW’s 7 Series gets a facelift while the 8 Series gets a new convertible

SINGAPORE (July 29): Faro, Portugal, seems like the perfect place to showcase BMW’s new 7 series model and 8 series convertible. With meandering mountain roads and pleasant weather, it is a treat to experience what these cars have in store.

The 7 Series has a kidney grille that is 40% bigger; the BMW roundel in front is also larger. These, as well as the raised front end of the car, project the luxury and prestige of the 7 Series. The LED headlights are now encased in a slimmer frame for a sporty look.

The 7 Series also boasts air intakes in the lower section of the front apron that are overlaid with deflectors to guide air to the brakes, and air curtains to minimise drag around the wheel arches. Along the side, a striking L-shaped trim hides the air breathers, which optimise airflow through the wheel arches, and gives the car the look of forward motion.

The interior of the BMW 7 Series boasts leather seats, an Alcantara-lined roof, ambient lighting and an array of technology features

The rear LED lights have a new three-dimensional design. A thin light bar spanning the tailgate connects the rear lights and provides a striking accent even during the day. Going lower, the 7 Series’ exhaust tailpipes are now decorated in chrome trim and integrated into the rear apron.

Inside the car, smooth leather lines the steering wheel, dash and seats while plush Alcantara is used for the roof, with chrome trim and wood inlays giving a classy accent. There is a wireless charging tray for smartphones, as well as ambient LED lighting. The cabin is acoustically cocooned, with even the engine noise being unnoticeable.

Safety technology features include lane departure warning, parking assistant and cruise control, along with the BMW xDrive system that delivers power to the front or rear wheels when required. The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant provides information and turns functions on and off with a voice command. It even has a vitality programme that can be triggered by saying, “Hey, BMW, I’m tired,” adjusting the lighting, music and temperature to help the driver remain alert.

On the road, the 7 Series’ handling belies its size, with integral active steering helping to direct both the front and rear wheels. The rear wheels can move up a few degrees, allowing for low-speed turns with small inputs while providing more stability when driving at higher speeds. On the mountain roads of Faro, this active steering helps make the car feel light and responsive through the turns.

The engine is no slouch either, responding quickly to the throttle. Even in comfort mode, where the suspension is more forgiving of bumps, bringing the car up to speed is quick, although there is noticeable roll when taking sharp corners. In sport mode, the 7 Series’ engine really stands out, with the speedometer leaping when the throttle is wide open. On the highway and twisting mountain roads, the firmer suspension means less rolling around sharp corners.

The 8 Series convertible has a soft top that can be retracted and a wind deflector so your hair will not be mussed up when you arrive at your destination

As for the 8 Series convertible, it now has a soft top that can be retracted, letting you feel the wind in your hair as you drive. The model comes with a wind deflector, so your hair will not be mussed up when you arrive at your destination. The front end sports a low single-piece kidney grille as well as BMW’s slimmest headlights. Coupled with a front spoiler to minimise lift and large air intakes, the 8 Series convertible now looks sportier than ever.

Round the back, the 8 Series has slim LED lights and horizontal and diagonal lines across the rear to highlight its width and low centre of gravity. It also boasts two sets of exhaust tailpipes integrated into the rear. Inside, there are the usual bells and whistles, with the M850i having a glass gear selector as an option. A head-up display shows the speed on the windshield as well, letting you keep your eyes on the road without having to look down at the dash.

The 8 Series convertible has the same safety technology as the 7 Series, including integral active steering, wireless charging tray and intelligent personal assistant. The V8 petrol engine delivers power when needed, ensuring that the car jumps to the touch of the throttle. The different driving modes, from comfort to sport and sport plus, bring out the different characteristics of the ride.

Inside the 8 Series convertible, a head-up display shows the speed on the windshield as well, letting you keep your eyes on the road without having to look down at the dash

On the mountain roads, the feeling of driving the 8 Series convertible is like no other. With the top down, you can really feel the speed and handling of the car. The neck warmer is an option if you are feeling chilly. The car feels firmly planted on the road even as the turns get sharper. Surprisingly, the 7 Series has a more stable feel despite being lighter than the 8 Series convertible.

On the motorways, the convertible ­really shows off what it can do, easily overtaking cars while maintaining a firm grip on the road. Even on the highway, the handling is steady. On small city roads, its handling is nimble and light.

Both the 7 Series and the 8 Series convertible pack a sizeable trunk, making them practical as well as fun to drive. Practicality and looks, coupled with technology, will make these cars an attractive option when they hit the Singapore market.


BMW 7 SERIES

Engine: 4,395cc, 4-valve, turbocharged

Power/torque: 530bhp/750Nm

Fuel consumption: 9.5l/100km

0 to 100kph: 4 seconds

Top speed: 250kph

BMW M850I CONVERTIBLE

Engine: 4,395cc, 4-valve, turbocharged

Power/torque: 530bhp/750Nm

Fuel consumption: 10l/100km

0 to 100kph: 3.9 seconds

Top speed: 250kph


Sightseeing in Faro

Faro is the administrative centre of Portugal’s southernmost Algarve region, which is known for its beaches and oranges. There is much to see and do in this historic city.

Faro’s Old Town, with its cobblestone paths and buildings adorned with Azulejo tiles, is a feast for the eyes. Churches dot the town and the tolling bells add to the charm of the place. Time slows down here, as people rarely rush and few cars go by on the roads. Exploring the town easily takes up a day as you soak in the history and see sights such as the Chapel of Bones (an ossuary behind the Carmelite church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo) and the city walls.

After that, head for the beaches with shimmering white sand that stretch as far as the eye can see. Attractions nearby include the Ria Formosa nature reserve and Benagil Cave.

Local pub fare satisfies the eye and the stomach

Also, check out Lagos, another town steeped in history and the base from which Portuguese explorers launched their expeditions to far-off lands during the Age of Discovery. Here, you can find historical architecture juxtaposed with modern buildings.

Food is readily available around any corner, with restaurants serving fresh seafood and bakeries offering delectable Portuguese favourites such as Portuguese pork chop bun, Dom Rodrigo sweets and egg tarts. Lagos is sprinkled with sports pubs that hero-worship footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and serve local pub fare such as Portuguese sausages.

The Algarve is famous for its white sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see