With the BMW 7 Series having been tested recently, at Monticello Raceway in NY, it seems as if BMW is taking the full-sized luxury sedan segment to a new level and might make Audi’s life very difficult in creating the next A8.
The new BMW 7 Series, internally known as G11, is a direct shot from BMW at both Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Both companies have had new versions of the S Class and A8, respectively, debut since the previous BMW 7 Series launched, and seemed to have left it for dead. The previous 7 Series was aging badly and couldn’t keep up with the latest from Mercedes and Audi. The Audi A8 was fresh looking and had an interior filled with techno-gadgets and other-worldly luxury. However, the Mercedes-Benz S Class pushed the game to a new level. The business-class jet-like interior of the new S Class immediately made it the car to beat in the segment. But now that BMW has struck back, the new 7 Series might be the new benchmark.
With BMW’s familiar 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8, making 445 hp, mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic (the same one Audi uses), the big 7 Series can hustle from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That’s fast for a big limo, though not as fast as the Audi A8 4.0T’s 3.9 seconds. However, the 7 Series isn’t about outright speed. According to recent drive reviews, the big Bavarian has fantastic chassis dynamics and excellent steering, both seem good enough to possibly be best-in-class. So the Merc and Audi better look out.
However, performance isn’t really the point of these big luxurious bruisers. The focal point is luxury, mainly backseat luxury. The Mercedes-Benz S Class set the backseat luxury benchmark way higher than most imagined was possible. Up until this new 7 Series, the S Class’ second row seemed like the best way to travel, aside from a private jet. While the A8’s rear seats are nice, they aren’t as sumptuous and luxurious as the back of an S Class. But the BMW 7 Series seems to possibly have the big Benz beat. With heated, massaging and reclining rear seats, enough HD LCD screens to fill a Best Buy, a detachable touchscreen tablet in the rear armrest and even a sunroof with lights that mimic a starry sky (a trick likely learned from BMW’s partner, Rolls Royce), the back seat of the BMW 7 Series is truly something to behold. It may be even more business-class-like than the S Class and most definitely more technological.
But the tech doesn’t stop there. With an all new touchscreen navigation system, an automotive first Gesture Control system (which allows front passengers to control the radio and phone controls by waving hand gestures in the air) and a touchscreen key fob, the 7 Series could quite possibly be the most techno-filled car on the road. In every market except for the US market, the BMW 7 Series can even park itself with the driver outside of the car, by using the aforementioned touchscreen key fob. Impressive stuff from Bavaria.
So how does Audi tackle the 7 Series with the next A8 now? Being that Audi has made its bones on using the best technology currently available, and even creating some that isn’t, it’s going to have to make the next A8 even more innovative that this new 7 Series. But how? What more can be done? Will the next A8 come with robotic arms that buckle you in and fold your tray table down like some automotive butler? I can’t see how much more technology can be packed into the backseat of an automobile.
Audi most definitely has its work cut out for it, with developing the next Audi A8. Being that it will be the newest car in the segment by a considerable margin when it debuts, it’s going to have to be magnificent. It must out-luxury the Mercedes-Benz S Class and out-innovate the BMW 7 Series. It will also have to perform better and handle better than both. Not a small task as both cars are simply fantastic. But knowing Audi, it will find some way to make the next Audi A8 an absolute stud. Here’s to robotic butler arms.