Charlie Cooksey test drives the new facelifted BMW 7 series and all-new 8 series convertible in Portugal for the international media launch.
The 7 series is one of the biggest selling BMW models in the Middle East so when they announce a new generation with a major facelift it’s a big deal. I was one of the lucky select few from the region to be invited and flown over to Portugal to test drive this new super luxurious saloon. But it gets even better, and exciting. This trip was extra special since I was also to test drive the new 8 series convertible. Double whammy! BMW never fail to pick beautiful locations for their test drives.
We were put up in the Conrad Algarve, a stunning 5 star hotel that had been colonised by BMW with a parade of shining new 7 and 8 series lined up at the front of the hotel. There was also the new X7 which drew a lot of attention – it was the first time I’d seen it. My first day began with the 7. . The new 7 shouts luxury and comfort (and delivers it). I couldn’t help but notice the grille – it’s 40% larger. Yes, 40%! Oh, even the BMW logo is bigger. This enlargement may sound a little extreme to our readers and 7-series-lovers but I can tell you it works beautifully. The car also sports new slimmer and precise looking headlights and redesigned taillights which are linked with a narrow strip of red light, and stands 50mm taller. All this enlargement makes a statement that it is distinct from others models. BMW have taken luxury and comfort to the highest possible level with this car.
The interior offers loads of space – especially for rear passengers, superbly comfortable Nappa leather seats and head cushions, generously sized 10” touchscreen screens in the back of the seats and plenty of storage. You can even talk to your 7 series and say things like “Hey BMW, I’m tired” after which the car will amend the lighting, climate system, seat massager and fragrance to lift the mood. This is a handy feature that enables you to keep your hands on the wheel at all times and the car acts almost as your PA. What a time to be alive!
Onto the 8…
The second day was all about the 8 Convertible, and oh boy what a car it is. After just a full day behind the wheel of this two door drop-top I came home with a tan. Firstly I need to highlight to the petrol heads how monstrous this car sounds – when you slip it into ‘Sport Plus’ mode it transforms into something special. The sound and performance changes into something of a supercar and it makes this wonderful crackling sound (it’s difficult to put into words – just book a test drive!). The car looks even better with the roof down and that’s the first thing I did when I entered the vehicle. The convertible is a soft top with the roof capable of being operated at speeds up to 50kmh and can be lowered or raised completely in just 15 seconds. The interior is a hybrid between luxury and sporty. The seats are comfy, a decent amount of space and storage, a classy crystal gear stick and an attractive steering wheel.
The model I was driving even has a ‘neck warmer’ located just below the headrest – great for the colder days. I was driving the M850i xDrive which packs more of a punch than the entry level model. Under the long bonnet are a herd of horses generating 530 horsepower which does 0-100kmh in just 3.9 seconds. The car is powered by a 4.4 litre V8 twin-power turbo charged petrol engine. There are two engine options available, both with an eight speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifts on the wheel. There’s no better place to test this car than on beautiful straight and winding mountain roads. I was able to test its seamless handling and cornering an also put my foot down to feel the acceleration and hear the V8 on the straights. I thoroughly enjoyed both cars on this trip and the hard work the engineers have dedicated over the years is proven. Technology in the new BMW models has made huge leaps and it’s getting ever easier to use… such as BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional, safety features, and intelligent PA. So much incredible technology is packed into cars now and once upon a time (way before my time as a driver!) this didn’t exist. It leaves me wondering – what more could we possibly need?
7 Series; starting from BD 36,000
8 Series Convertible; starting from BD 52,000
For more information call BMW EuroMotors on +973 1775 0750.