x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Testing times: BMW's new hybrids head for the hills of Europe

BMW might have shown off its ActiveHybrid 7-Series at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, but our spies confirm the cars are much further advanced than even the car maker cares to admit.

BMW might have shown off its ActiveHybrid 7-Series at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, but our spies confirm the cars are much further advanced than even the car maker cares to admit. Our Italian correspondent spied a fleet of four hybrid 7-Series BMWs crossing from Munich into Austria past Garmisch at the end of September, then caught up with the same collection of cars again travelling in convoy down the Brenner Pass in northern Italy.

The four cars, clearly marked as BMW test department vehicles, may be even more advanced than the ActiveHybrid BMW showed at Frankurt, with all four featuring a tell-tale plug on the right rear side of the rear bumper bar, which looks like it could be used to charge the battery packs of the big limousines when they are parked in offices or at home. The ActiveHybrid cars all combined a TwinPower, 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine and an electric motor, all run through the all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox unit, which debuted in the 760Li just months ago, was pre-engineered for Hybrid work and also features Start-Stop technology.

The twin-scroll turbo-charger and the electric motor help the direct-injection V8 to 342kW/465hp and 700Nm/516lb-ft of torque. Like Mercedes-Benz's S400 Hybrid, its electric motor sits between the engine and the transmission, and runs on a lithium-ion battery. BMW already claims the ActiveHybrid 7 will punch to 100kph in a very M3-like 4.9 seconds while keeping its average EU fuel consumption cycle numbers down to 9.4 litres/100km.

The ActiveHybrid 7 runs a 120-volt on-board network and it claims one of its big advantages is that it allows full air conditioning even when the engine is switched off in stop-start traffic. It uses a 35-cell battery with its own computer, generating 400 watts per hour and weighing only 27kg. Not only that, but it takes up no additional space, fitting into the curious box area usually dedicated to the rear-seat air conditioning compressor in the middle of the boot.

The disc-like motor weighs 23kg and slots neatly into the transmission housing, adding another 15kW/20hp of power or 20kW/27hp in its "generator" mode when it charges the battery. It can reach a torque peak of 210Nm (155lb-ft). motoring@thenational.ae