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BMW Active Hybrid 7 in the test: luxury sedan with hybrid drive

Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW Active Hybrid 7 in the test
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W hen it's about the subject of hybrid , the situation for automakers is somewhat reminiscent of aquaplaning on the autobahn. You approach with momentum and suddenly feel a lack of leadership. Just no sudden changes in course. It is better to keep the momentum with calm reactions until you have solid ground under the tires again.

The hybrid technology is known from the Mercedes S 400 Hybrid

BMW with its first (mild) hybrid sedan. Specifically: For the premiere in the luxury class, you take a 750i (the BMW 750i in the individual test), insert a 15 kW electric motor between the V8 gasoline engine and the automatic transmission and couple the whole thing with power electronics and a small, powerful lithium-ion battery.

Looks familiar? Right, the number comes from a joint development with Daimler, whose S 400 Hybrid is already successfully attracting customers: around 20 percent of S-Class buyers have already succumbed to the charm of the hybrid, although the fuel savings are hardly worthwhile given the steep surcharge. Mercedes even combines the electric motor with one Six-cylinder petrol engine specially optimized for economy. BMW expects around ten percent of sales and is clearly aiming for driving pleasure with the Active Hybrid 7, which is also available as a long version. Why else should you give the muscular, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 42 extra horsepower with a higher boost pressure and pack the power of the electric motor (15 kW, 210 Newton meters) on top? In any case, a system output of 465 hp and 700 Newton meters comes out at the back.

The hybrid drive offers sheer thrust

To master it, you have to 7er - drivers do not get used to it. Apart from special hybrid displays in the cockpit and a smoothly working automatic start-stop system, the Active Hybrid 7 initially hardly differs from the 750i - until the pilot steps harder on the accelerator for the first time. Then gasoline and electric motors work together with oneGoal: sheer thrust. Whether it is due to the increased V8 performance or the electric boost cannot be determined with certainty. The extra punch of the Active Hybrid can be felt without a measuring device.

Not only under full load, where the 2.1-ton truck pushes to 100 km /h in five seconds and continues to press steadfastly even at speeds of over 200 km /h. Just as convincingly it succeeds in smooth gliding in high gear at speeds of around 1,500 rpm, accompanied by deep V8 murmurs. Always supported by the electric motor, even if the otherwise informative cockpit displays don't tell.

With the 7 Series Hybrid, silent driving remains an unfulfilled wish

On request If the automatic changes the steps quickly and accurately, the petrol engine turns angrily, which goes well with the precise handling. The Active Hybrid 7 thus demonstrates just as versatile a character as the lighter BMW 750i, with which it shares the chassis technology. In addition to the axles, which are mostly made of aluminum (for package reasons, the front of the 750i x-Drive), this includes options that promote dynamism such as active stabilizers or active steering that acts on the front and rear wheels - neither the electric motor nor the battery of the mild hybrid is sufficient for this. BMW fans either have to go to the upcoming full hybrid versions of the X6 with two-mode system or the 5er with a 40 kW electric motor. On the other hand, the 23 kilogram, 35 millimeter slim three-phase synchronous motor of the 7 series appears simple and multifunctional.

The electric motor also serves as a starter and generator

It not only serves as a tailwind donor, but also as a starter and generator: In contrast to the Widespread recuperation systems, which only couple or uncouple the alternator, always actively decelerates when braking, and even takes over all of the work when the brakes are slightly decelerated. The regular brakes only intervene from ten millimeters of pedal travel. The effect is befitting, the pedal feel is transparent, only when the brakes are gently applied, sensitive people feel that they feel a bit of synthetic.

Regardless of how - the recovered kinetic energy is fed into the lithium-ion battery via the 120 V network. Unlike the related Mercedes S 400 Hybrid, in which it lives in the engine compartment, in the 7 Series it resides in a special housing on the trunk wall between the wheel arches, which costs 40 liters of luggage space. The usable charge volume of the 27-kilogram battery is 400 Wh, which is used for propulsion and high-consumption consumers such as the air conditioning system. The latter even cools when the vehicle is stationary - controlled by remote control for the ownerFind a pleasantly conditioned interior even on hot summer days.

The hybrid saves up to 2.8 liters compared to the BMW 750i

Overall, the Active Hybrid 7 is also enthusiastic Power and comfort with reasonable consumption: in the test average it is 12.4 L /100 km, the cautiously completed standard lap he manages with 9.0 liters, in the city it is 13.1 liters. As parallel comparison drives with a 750i show, the hybrid saves between around one liter in cautious mixed operation and up to 2.8 liters in city traffic, where the start-stop system is particularly profitable.

And what does the fun cost ? 105,900 euros, which is less than 5,000 euros extra for the hybrid system plus more powerful V8 petrol engine compared to the BMW 750i, taking into account the standard equipment with auxiliary air conditioning, top navigation system, extremely comfortable seats and heat-insulating laminated glazing. You had to pay more for extra performance, and for savings cheaper.


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