Wards 10 Best Interiors competition has recognized outstanding interiors for six years. This is the first installment of a new monthly series called “The Story Behind the 10 Best Interiors,” which follows in the footsteps of “The Story Behind the 10 Best Engines.”
Step into the ’16 BMW 750i and you instantly know the 7-Series is BMW’s luxury flagship. And you will be thrilled and delighted by a seemingly endless list of features and unprecedented levels of comfort, convenience, craftsmanship, color and materials inside its limousine-like cabin. We asked Marc Girard, global automotive design director-BMW DesignWorks, about the interior team’s objectives.
Among the many challenges were keeping a global perspective and paying close attention to details, Girard says.
“First was to position this new 7-Series (as the leader) in the luxury segment,” he says. “Second was to create a product that understands and fulfills the needs of our most demanding customers all around the world. Third was to design every single piece, corner and detail throughout the car, because the difference lies in the details.”
“A lot of different materials come together in this interior and the goal was to have them absolutely seamless so that you don’t see the transitions,” Girard says. This leads to details such as trim strips and chrome accents that are individually made for each car to ensure flawless fits.
The center console controls are framed by either fine wood or real aluminum and the standard ambient lighting feature offers six different colors.
The upholstery comes in five colors of Dakota leather in the 740i or Nappa leather on the 750i. An optional Ambient Air Package provides either ionized air or one of eight scents dispersed via the HVAC system. The optional Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof has etchings in the moonroof glass that simulate a star-lit sky at night.
An available interior design package adds a suede-like Alcantara headliner, deep-pile rear floor mats and wood inlays on the seatbelt outlet covers, rear center armrest and rear roof grab handles. Two optional rear-cabin packages can further enhance your enjoyment of being chauffeured.
The luxury rear-seating package ventilates the seats, heats the armrests, massages your body and provides a removable 7-in. (18-cm) Touch Command Tablet that can custom-tune your experience. And the Rear Executive Lounge seating package offers 42.5 ins. (108 cm) of recline, a power footrest and NBA-style legroom for the passenger-side rear seat, plus a fold-out table, cupholders and extra console storage.
Then there is the redesigned iDrive multi-controller that teams nicely with a new touchscreen, plus voice command and physical buttons for key functions. There is a standard 12.3-in. (31 cm) dynamic digital instrument cluster that changes its configuration for different drive modes, an available 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, an almost endless range of connectivity and driver assistance/safety features and standard Gesture Control.
“We were skeptical of BMW’s industry-first gesture controls at first,’ says WardsAuto editor Drew Winter. “But after just a few minutes of pointing, twirling and swiping, we found the innovative human-machine interface provides a natural way of controlling the radio, rejecting incoming phone calls and performing other functions.”
The extremely high level of technology was another challenge for the team, Girard says.
“Gesture control doesn’t happen by magic. You need sensors, cameras and controls that capture hand movements. When the kids are playing XBox in the living room, a bunch of big boxes capture the movements. But as you can imagine, the designers are not so keen on integrating those big boxes, so the engineers had to make them as small as possible and integrate them so that you do not see them.”
As great as the ’16 Wards 10 Best Interiors award-winning new 7-Series cabin is today, what can be imagined for the next generation?
“I think the next one will be a different animal,” Girard says, “because we are dealing with massive, rapidly shifting customer expectations regarding connectivity. The level of technology in this car already is quite far ahead, and it shows our path to the future. But it’s going to go much, much, much further. The next one will be very exciting, I can guarantee.”