The lies we tell ourselves

The lies we tell ourselves 1
The lies we tell ourselves 2
The lies we tell ourselves 3
The lies we tell ourselves 4
The lies we tell ourselves 5
The lies we tell ourselves 6
The lies we tell ourselves 7

Any new model is supposed to be better in every way: lighter, more economical, more engaging to drive, cleverer, faster, etc. But somehow, this new 7 Series isn’t very impressive overall. It’s relative of course, but while the progress is visible on paper—the 130-kg lighter body, thanks to the use of the patented Carbon Core technology, the rise in all-around performance due to new TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder engines—the car somehow feels less accomplished then the previous generation.

Like an iPhone 6S, it wows customers with improved everything, from its state-of-the-art Bowers & Wilkins stereo system to the Rolls-Royce-derived artificially intelligent suspension and gearbox system that reads gigabytes of data from the sat-nav every half a second to adjust the dampers and select the right gear according to road conditions and your personal driving style.

And yet…the way that the whole car is set up by BMW engineers is the big letdown.

For instance, the steering is super sharp. This is normally a good thing, and I have been complaining these past few years that BMW had lost its edge over the likes of Mercedes and Lexus when it comes to steering precision; even the M5 was worse. It made steering setups a bit more vague, with a dead point right in the center. This was, of course, done on purpose, because the customer base for BMW is changing. Selling more and more cars in countries like China and the UAE has altered the engineer’s way of thinking. This means cars are developed and oriented less on backroad-blasting in Schwartzwald or the Dolomiti and more on straight-line cruising. Even back home in Germany, the current demographic with an aging customer base is forcing a similar evolution. If you’re a 70-year-old German pensioner, you don’t want sharp steering that makes you change lanes every time you sneeze while driving 125 miles an hour down the autobahn. You’d have a heart attack. Switching to an electrical power steering system from a hydraulic one accomplished the rest in terms of reducing steering feel (as on the current-generation M3).

But surprisingly, things are radically different on the laid-back 730d (as well as the 750iL). The steering is race-car sharp. And if you accidentally set the suspension to Comfort, every small nudge of the wrists will result in the car tilting sideways like Jordan Belfort’s yacht in The Wolf of Wall Street, where they almost drown during a storm. Talk about seasick. Oh, and there is no Sport+ setting to make the whole car play along with the rabid steering. It just doesn’t make sense.

More is more

Then there’s the styling. Previous BMWs were always about understated, classy luxury. Like a Hugo Boss WWII uniform: sharp, crisp, demanding respect. The G11 unfortunately has none of these traits. It follows in the footsteps of its baroque-styled competition (like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class) with a “more is more” attitude. There’s just too much going on in terms of design cues, materials used, stitching techniques, shapes, and sizes. Unfortunately it has strayed from the path of good, sober, Protestant taste and onto a Babylonian road to vulgarity.

Also from Issue 137

  • E30 M3-S85 V10 Frankenbimmer
  • 2016 F30 340i xDrive first drive
  • 2016 F30 340i THP track test
  • 1995 E36 M3 GT road test
  • Technology: ZF and BMW
  • Rob Kinlin's 1988 E28 535i
  • Jeff Shandler's 1974 2002 Turbo
  • Tom Graham's 1936 319/55
  • Paddock Pass: DTM champs
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