What does the 7 Series mean to you?
Ian Robertson: It’s our flagship, our technology leader and our innovations platform. It is also genuinely luxurious and comfortable while remaining a real driver’s car. Put simply, it sets a new benchmark. Importantly for the company, this is the car that offers the very latest leading-edge technology with features that, over time, will be available throughout the BMW range.
As you say, the 7 Series is the flagship of the BMW Group. How does this new generation live up to that title?
I think there are three different perspectives we need to consider here. From a technical point of view, the new BMW 7 Series showcases the strength and depth of our innovative ability. It embodies the combined passion and skill of our BMW designers and engineers. Taking the long view, the BMW 7 Series can look back on success that goes back decades – it’s been delighting and exciting customers all over the world since 1977. That’s helped us build up strong customer loyalty for the 7 Series, but it also brings with it a responsibility to continue and build on that tradition – a responsibility we’re only too happy to fulfil.
Looking at it from the perspective of the brand, this sixth generation sets yet another benchmark. During the development phase, we spent a lot of time talking to customers, dealers and other experts about what they’d like to see in the car. But just giving them what they want today is not enough – it’s our job to anticipate our customers’ wishes and delight them with ideas they haven’t yet thought of. I think that’s how you can sum up our approach with this car: the desire to exceed our customers’ expectations was at the centre of our thinking. Today you can experience a BMW 7 Series that reflects the very highest demands our customers make of us when it comes to both innovation and luxury.
How would you define “luxury” in the automotive world?
Luxury takes many forms. From the very first model, the 7 Series defined automotive luxury as the ultimate combination of comfort and technology and we’ve built on those strengths ever since. That history, and the car’s outstanding reputation over generations, is something our designers really focus on as they strive to fulfil our customers’ future expectations. Similarly, our dealer partners around the world are constantly refining and enhancing the relationship with the owners of these superlative cars – because for our customers, people who’ve consciously chosen BMW, contemporary luxury means leading-edge innovation and exceptional functionality combined with truly outstanding design. It’s a BMW, so great driving dynamics are a given, but it’s also a wonderfully luxurious car whether you’re driving or being driven. The finest materials – leathers, woods, and precious metals – are crafted into an environment where the most comfortable seats, including Executive Lounge seating, are combined with the latest technology. These days, of course, the ability to connect very simply to the digital world is also very important. In a nutshell, luxury is defined by offering all of the elements necessary to excite and delight the most discerning customers.
Do 7 Series customers around the world have similar expectations and standards?
Well, one thing they all agree on is Freude am Fahren – or sheer driving pleasure. But of course, there are many differences both in lifestyle and culture when you compare America, Asia and Europe. The 7 Series is available as a short or long wheelbase, for example, to suit the needs of customers in different markets. In Asia, where the vast majority of 7 Series customers prefer to be chauffeur-driven, we are only offering the long-wheel version. Our American customers are more likely to sit behind the wheel themselves, actively enjoying the Ultimate Driving Machine, but given the scale of the country, there’s also a preference for the long-wheel version. In Europe, it’s more mixed with owner-drivers often preferring the shorter wheelbase as it’s easier to get that around the narrower city streets.
One trend we’re noticing in every region is increasing individualisation, especially when it comes to comfort. That’s something you’ll find very strongly reflected in the new generation. To make sure we can fulfil all our customers’ requirements, our engineers have developed a huge range of options for the new 7 Series. It is the most individual, most intuitive vehicle we’ve ever built, so that each customer can choose what’s important to them. Our customers are seeing the innovation and technology developing in their own lives very quickly and they expect that to be available in their car. The BMW ConnectedDrive features and ease of use take another major step forward with the new 7 Series and offer seamless integration of the devices we have come to rely on in recent years.
What pleases you most about the new 7 Series?
The 7 Series has been growing in stature generation by generation and this new car is no exception. It’s made an enormous step when it comes to the passenger experience, but at the same time it’s a true driver’s performance car when you want it to be. It combines comfort, style and innovation in a way that genuinely embodies driving luxury.
What does the 7 Series mean to you?