Is BMW's 7-series the Ultimate Gadget Machine? - evo Connectivity

From gesture control to remote parking, we get to grips with the technology-fest that's at the core of BMW's new 7-series

The new BMW 7-series might just be the most technologically advanced production car ever to go on sale. From an in-car tech perspective, it most definitely is. The sheer amount of gadgetry on offer, both in terms of driver assist systems and what the latest generation iDrive system is capable of, is truly bewildering.

It’s a huge statement of intent from BMW, which has all too often been on the technological back foot to Mercedes and its S-class. Just about every piece of technology found in the 7-series – including its innovative ‘Carbon Core’ chassis, which mixes carbonfibre components with steel and aluminium parts to help reduce weight – will eventually make its way down to other models in the company’s line-up, too.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

Let’s look at the revamped iDrive first. Touchscreen technology has been added to the 10.2-inch high-resolution display in the centre of the dash, making for a more intuitive, user-friendly experience than you get operating the click-wheel on the transmission tunnel.

Things don’t stop there, however, as you can now use gesture control to carry out basic iDrive commands. For example, rotating your finger clockwise in front of the display will raise the volume. Even better, one of the five gestures recognised by the system can be given a custom function, so you can quickly call home or find directions with a simple hand movement. And while some gesture control systems struggle to recognise commands properly, this one appears to work every time.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

For rear-seat passengers, it’s possible to option two 9.2-inch HD displays, both of which give access to the core functions of iDrive. The screens themselves boast vivid colours and pin-sharp visuals that are a step above what the competition offers. Integrated into the central armrest between the rear seats, meanwhile, is a 7-inch tablet that can control such things as the climate control and infotainment system.

One place where you don’t normally see a screen is on a car’s key, but that’s exactly what you’ll find on BMW’s ‘Display Key’, which comes as standard with the new 7-series. It enables you to remain connected with the car even when you’re away from it, allowing you to remotely operate the climate control and check the fuel level and range and the current servicing requirements. A wireless charger built into the car’s storage cubby keeps the key’s battery topped up and will also charge compatible Android phones, or iPhones wearing an optional BMW case.

The key’s real party piece, though, is the way it allows you to remotely park the 7-series. Step out of the car with it facing a space and you can slowly move it forwards or backwards using the key. Handy, perhaps, if you’ve got a garage that will accommodate a 7-series, but which isn’t wide enough for you to open the car’s doors once inside.

While the many new features of this 7-series are undeniably impressive, you could of course question how many of them you actually need. Perhaps more useful than remote parking would be further simplifying how the ever-growing plethora of functions are accessed. Click-wheels, touchscreens and gestures are all well and good, but a truly honed voice control system that can reliably understand natural speech would be a real step forward, and something we’ve yet to see in a production car. Perhaps one for the next 7-series, BMW?

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/bmw/7-series
BMW 7 Series saloon

2019 BMW 7-series review – more talented than its image might portray

5 Aug 2019
Visit/technology/202558/what-is-a-hybrid-hybrid-tech-and-how-its-used-in-performance-cars
Technology

What is a hybrid? Hybrid tech and how it’s used in performance cars

1 May 2020
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/features/202640/bmw-m4-competition-vs-mercedes-amg-c63-s-coupe-german-coupe-twin-test
Features

BMW M4 Competition vs Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe - German coupe twin test

The F82 BMW M4 is about to be put out to pasture, so does AMG’s recently fettled C63 S Coupe finally have its number?
18 May 2020
Visit/jaguar/202404/jaguar-project-8-evo-reader-experience
Advertisement Feature

Jaguar Project 8 evo reader experience

The Jaguar Project 8 is a 200mph marvel of engineering designed with one purpose in mind: to deliver the thrill of driving. We put some lucky evo read…
14 Apr 2020
Visit/features/18127/the-best-six-cylinder-engines-ever-we-pick-our-favourites
Features

The best six-cylinder engines ever – we pick our favourites

Six-cylinder engines can be found in cars of all kinds, good and bad. We collate the very best
13 May 2020
Visit/porsche/911/202636/porsche-911-carrera-to-be-turbo-only-as-manuals-stay
Porsche 911

Porsche 911 Carrera to be turbo only, as manuals stay

Porsche confirms the 911 Carrera won’t be available with a naturally aspirated engine again, but manuals stay. For now
17 May 2020