In part one of our 750Li review we discussed performance along with the interior and luxury. We loved the sports package and high beam assist but what about Night Vision and Active Cruise? Read on to find out and of course see the full gallery.
Using a far-infrared camera developed by Autoliv Electronics, the optional Night Vision ($2600) scans up to 1600 ft. ahead of the vehicle over a 24-degree-wide range. The 7 Series is the first vehicle with a pedestrian detection feature, where a warning appears in the Heads Up Display and on the iDrive screen. This feature is activated at speeds greater than 25 mph and only if the person will cross paths with the vehicle.
The system is very clear and provides details that otherwise you may not see at night. While it does a great job of scanning down a straight road it is less effective when taking turns because the camera is in a fixed position, the adaptive headlights on the other hand work as advertised by turing with the car.
We drove from Northern Vermont to the New York Metro area at night along highways and deserted back roads to give this system a full work out. For the most part it worked as advertised; it provided a clear crisp picture in the iDrive screen giving us some information that might have gone unseen- specifically of animals of the four-legged kind, as in deer. On one occasion a deer triggered the pedestrian warning system but that was an isolated occurrence and more than likely a system error/confusion rather than the norm. The system really is only designed to detect people.
Our biggest disappointment in testing the night vision was that our first attempt (the night before) was unsuccessful because the area was blanketed in a dense fog and the upper grille mounted camera really did not give us an image clear enough to be useful. It would have been nice to see through the fog a bit as it slowed our travel speed down to a crawl.
One main issue many may have with the system is with the location of the viewing screen. While the iDrive screen’s location is fine for briefly looking at a map, or selecting a phone number (etc.) it is not ideal for viewing live motion video while driving (probably the reason BMW does not allow it to be used for movies when the car is in motion and also states it is not wise to use the Night Vision image solely). It is possible to look at the top of the night vision image (1/4 mile down the road), and then drive for 15-20 seconds with eyes on the road, looking back over to survey your future path again on the screen (you get the idea). Over a long period of time that becomes increasingly cumbersome and tiring.
The 7 series has an ambient sensor for the iDrive screen and adjusts the lighting accordingly and it works well. While using the night vision, the backlighting is fine for image quality but to go back and forth from road to screen prevents your eyes from ever fully adjusting to the dark. Even with the lighting manually turned all the way down and is worth noting.
Adaptive Cruise Control:
Like other BMW models the 7 Series uses radar sensors located in the lower front bumper of the car to adjust the speed of the car according to driver preference and traffic conditions. This version of ACC can also bring the car to a complete stop, known as “Stop-and-Go” but will deactivate ACC if the stop is for longer than a 3 second period.
ACC in general requires some getting used to; it takes away braking and accelerating duties and leaves it up to computers and sensors. It is (quite literally) like putting your life in the hands of someone you just met. After that first encounter it is nothing more than the norm and works as advertised.
With this system you can select the distance to the car in front (not closer than 3 seconds so no tail-gaiting) but when a typical New Yorker paces and cuts in front of you, the 7er reacts with the brakes to maintain that safe distance to the car in front which is now the person who cut in front of you. This becomes comes unpleasant time after time and is another reason why the US is not meant for some of these gadgets, and simply put: many people have little respect for safe driving habits.
We have logged a lot of miles in a variety of 7 Series models over the past 6 months and have been more than impressed by them. The build quality is superb, they drive like a smaller nimble car, all while never having an electrical or mechanical gremlin arise.
That is not to say the car is perfect, it is not. It is close and we really had to search for things to have issue with and they are minor at best. For an executive class sedan there is way too much in cabin wind noise on the highway and that is probably the cars biggest fault. Whether it comes from the mirrors or possibly the window trim, it is anyone’s guess but it is definitely there.
A car at this pricepoint (which comes with a keyless ignition) should really come standard with Comfort Access and a smaller key fob; for unknown reasons the fob is nearly twice the size of a typical run of the mill 3 Series fob with no increased function. It just takes up more space.
As you can see by our extensive interior photos shot at night, there are a lot of lights inside this car and even with them turned down it may be bright for some when on long trips. Aside from that there is little to complain about with the 7er.
All in all, the new 7 restores traditional styling, the use of function(ing) to advanced technology and the BMW drive quality to the executive class sedan. It is sure to please even the most picky of drivers, us included.