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SNIPPETS, ODDITIES AND TRAVEL Share your holiday and travel experiences here - whether it be to another town or to another country, or unusual items of interest.

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Old 20th October 2009, 05:53 AM
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SELfor50 SELfor50 is offline
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Cool BMW 7 Series Review

Ok... so it's not an article, or a link to a media release.

My review of the 2009 BMW 730D

On return from Scotland last week, I landed in Munchen and had reserved a BMW 525/530 or similar (MB E350 or Jag etc etc.)
But when I got to the car hire place, they offered me a free upgrade to a 730D.
Couldn't turn it down. Asked them if they had any S Klasse's, but un-fortunately not.
The rate was the same (400 odd Euro's for the week - bloody cheap!!) but the deposit was a fair whack more. (600 euros deposit for the 530, or 2600 for the 7 Series). Still couldn't pass it up.

So we picked up the car, and headed for St Gallen in Switzerland, stopping past Neue Schwanstein on the way. (Beautiful castle).

After driving for about 30mins, I began to appreciate the car for it's value.

The technology (which i'm sure the S Klasse is identical to) is un-####-believable!!! It's something that you can read about and see the media releases, but can't appreciate unless you've actually driven the car.

While leaving Munchen, I hit the blinker (after hitting the windscreen wipers first) and went to change lanes. Before checking my blind spot, I looked in the mirror. I couldn't see any cars, but a little Orange triangle had lit up and was flashing, warning me that there was a car in my blind spot. I turned my head to confirm.
It's a pretty bloody good feature, especially to have on a larger car.

The suprise didn't end there. When we reached the Autobahn, the limit was initially 130, so I set the cruise control to 130 and just coasted.

Meanwhile, the following is displayed on the on-screen display.
  • Current Speed
  • Zone Speed Limit
  • GPS Directions (detailed turn signals and distance to turn)
  • Cruise Control Speed Setting
  • Car Distance Setting (Seconds I think)
  • Line Warning Setting

Before you think that it must be busy, it's not. Ze German's have thought it through quite well. Most of the above items actually integrate with each other (I'll post pics when I get home).

And I was wondering what the Car Distance Setting was, so I thought i'd test it out.
Upon approaching a slower car in front, depending on how many bars you have it set to (1,2,3 or 4) it will maintain that distance.
The faster you are going, the greater the distance.
The laser sensors up front maintain the distance, and the car brakes automatically.
And despite the girlfriend not wanting me to test it in a "live" situation, I thought i'd see how good it was.
When one particular car broke really hard coming up to a traffic jam, I gripped the wheel very bloody tight, and let the car do the work.
It stopped with no problems at all. In fact, it braked increasingly hard as the car in front slowed, and then almost to 0 km's.

Next time during a traffic jam, it stopped to 0km's, and as I tapped the accelerator to creep forward, it engaged again, and just kept creeping forward. So for the entire 2km's of traffic, I didn't have to touch any pedals, just steer.

I have to admit, the first braking point, I was absolutely sh!tting myself. I thought, how good can the sensors and computer be. And it proved itself.
I'm not sure how it would work in a situation when the car's are completely stationary in front and you came up to them at a fast pace, as anything I'm sure newtons law would come into play.

Anyway, the actual name was, 'Active Cruise Control', and it's something that unless you've seen it would be hard to believe how bloody good the thing is. And safety wise, it should become almost standard in years to come i'd hope.

Next thing is the Line Warning feature. When turned on, if you're travelling over 70km/h and then cross any line on either side, the steering wheel and car vibrates. Exactly like if the lines were actually the grid style designed to wake up / notify the driver of crossing the lines. Again, should be standard in all vehicles in years to come. Great safety feature.

Finally, the European system for advising of traffic information is second to none. The Audi didn't seem to offer the same type of service, so maybe the GPS unit in the BMW had an extra receiver for the information, not sure.
Pretty sure it's all transmitted over RDS so all cars should have it, just probably depends how the GPS Unit interprets it.
Anyway, what it does it, when you enter a destination in the GPS unit, it plans the route. Then notify's of any pending / incomplete roadwords and possible alternatives.

Along with that, if you're travelling on a particular highway that has a traffic build up / jam (or Stau), then it blinks up and notifies you that there is a 3,5,10km Stau in 20km's, and to avoid you should turn off now.

I can honestly say, it probably saved us several hours of waiting in traffic, as when we'd come out the other side, you could see the car's banked up. Was un-believable.

Finally, the seat warmers and lumber support, headrest etc etc etc... settings, so good. I memorized 2 settings.. Cruising & 200km/h +
Cruising i'd almost fall asleep, 200km's + I'd be touching my head on the roof to see as much road as possible.

Anyway, to finish. It was an extremely nice ride, and I was blown away.
Next time I'll have to find someone who has an S500 so I can compare them.


Cam.
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  #2  
Old 20th October 2009, 11:57 AM
Lukas Lukas is offline
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

Some GPSes have their own communications for things like traffic jams and roadworks - either using the same satellites as used for positioning or via the mobile phone network (I think) - could be that the beemer's GPS had a subscritpion to one of those services, rather than using RDS (and the Audi did not).

My outdated memory has RDS as only being used for stuff like radio station and song names, and volume control - not traffic info.

Does make you think though, can't we just get on with the things driving themselves?
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Old 21st October 2009, 04:07 AM
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Styria Styria is offline
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukas View Post
Some GPSes have their own communications for things like traffic jams and roadworks - either using the same satellites as used for positioning or via the mobile phone network (I think) - could be that the beemer's GPS had a subscritpion to one of those services, rather than using RDS (and the Audi did not).

My outdated memory has RDS as only being used for stuff like radio station and song names, and volume control - not traffic info.

Does make you think though, can't we just get on with the things driving themselves?
Hi Lukas, that's not too far away - in fact, it can just about be done now. It was only about six weeks ago that I read a road test report on (whatever - Lexus, Mercedes), where the car drove itself all the way from Sydney Airport into the city. So much for that. Let you in on another secret - guaranteed that within five years Big Brother will set the speed limits wherever, and the cars will have some sort of receiver which will force it to respond to the restriction.

Hi SELfour50, thanks for that enlightened and informative report. I reckon it'd be quite eerie not to have full control over the the car you're driving. You'd find that the S-Class, as well as possibly the E-Class models, would have similar features. Electronics have come a looooooong way even in the last three years. Presently, you're still paying premium money for that sort of technology, but give it about five years, and even Protons will have similar features. Thanks for your great report - BTW, you obviously didn't get into the Salzburg Area - never mind, Switzerland is pretty good too. Regards Styria
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Old 21st October 2009, 12:22 PM
Lukas Lukas is offline
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

I think the technology is not the issue, the biggest holdups are:
  • Like Styria says - trusting the car to drive itself
  • Laws and regulations catching up

For example, I think it is still illegal to have steer-by-wire under ADR - there must be a mechanical linkage between the steering wheel and the steered wheels - that sort of law prohibits (or makes difficult) cars steering themselves.

Also, if the car is driving itself and crashes - whose fault is that? Cars can drive safely at much tighter spacings and faster speeds than people can, but if you still rely on people to react and over-ride a faulty computer, you have to turn the limits right down and lose a lot of the benefit.

The tech isn't 100% yet either though - we watched an A-class parallel park itself at the MB dealer a while ago, but because it was against a fence rather than against a curb, it parked about 10cm away from the fence, and any passenger would have had no chance of getting out of the car.

I think the movie iRobot had the quote "you're going to drive manually?"
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Old 21st October 2009, 03:42 PM
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

You have proved that the distance and automatic braking work OK in a straight line, but how sharp does a curve have to be before the automatic braking gets fed incorrect signals from the laser detector? In such a situation, would the laser detector find stopped (or moving faster than you) cars in other lanes?
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Old 21st October 2009, 04:39 PM
BenzBoy BenzBoy is offline
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

OK Cam - following your autobahn experiences with the BMW techno-whizz, here is a challenge for you.
Next time you are in Sydney I will roll open the garage doors and turn you loose on the PII. The challenge will be; can you start it without any help and drive it for 10 kilomteres without crashing the gears. You have 5 minutes to start it from cold. Do this and I will raise you $100.
Regards,
Benz-Boy
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Old 21st October 2009, 10:25 PM
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SELfor50 SELfor50 is offline
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

All very valid points!

I completely agree with the notion of a car driving itself is not who it should be.

Braking in a straight line, it works great. On a curve it works quite well too.
I'm not sure if there's 4 or 6 lasers on the front, 4 I think. 2 Middle, 2 on front corners. On fast 10-20deg turns on the bahn it works fine. The only real issue I encountered was keeping it on 50km's through villages and in tight streets / turns after the car would go mostly round the corner it would turn off and try and leap off from 30-50km/h.

But to be honest, my view wasn't that the car should drive itself or make it too easy for the driver. But I would assume the features were mainly designed for the highway / autobahn use, and to be honest. Make driving on the Autobahn that much more comfortable when you're crusing at an average speed of 130-170km/h most of the time. And when approaching a traffic jam it gives off an early warning (to those drivers who don't concentrate so much).

The funny thing is, I bought the latest top gear mag for the plane ride back. And it reviews the same car. Only read it after I posted this. It actually states what I was thinking. It's supposed to be a limo type car, but is actually more enjoyable for someone who likes to drive. It has the Sport and Sport plus chassis settings which give uber responsive throttle and great cornering for a 2 Tonne beast. It also provideds great feedback through the wheel/s which I quite enjoy, but someone being chauffered probably wouldn't.

The main thing for me was, it was enjoyable to have these features, but on many occasions I would take over for manouvres and just to enjoy the drive (the cruise control only goes up to 180). A car should never take away too much of the driving from the pilot.

For a Highway cruiser, it was a pleasure to drive. And I'm sure the S-Klasse equiv is identicle in everything except the drive-ability is more than likely different (7spd gearbox instead of 6 etc etc).


I was thinking it wasn't RDS cause that basically just controls those basic things like you said. But my ol' man was claiming it was.. I would assume with the accuracy of the navigation it is def GPS. Must have been subscribed to one of those services me thinks.


Brian, I'll take you up on that for sure! I did enjoy driving the computerized machine on the Autobahns. But I like nothing more than the experience of engineering of different generations. Nothing compares. Was an absolute eye opener seeing some of the machines that they used to race in the Classic Centre. The mind boggles how much those fellas would've been fighting the thing.
...though, i'm pretty confident that there won't be any need to shell out any of those 100 bikkies.

Cam.
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Old 22nd October 2009, 04:19 AM
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Styria Styria is offline
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

Hi Cam, a lot has been said about all the electronic features and the like. I see it was a Diesel (?) and I wounder, when you get a chance, if you could elaborate a little on the engine itself ? Was it turbocharged and what capacity etc. etc.

Also, how did you find driving in Europe ? Much different to here ? How about road courtesy by other drivers etc. ?

When I have been to Europe, only once did a truck driver give me a blast with his horn, despite the fact that my driving did leave a little to be desired on some occasions. I found round abouts a bit tricky at times - you know, approaching them from the opposite direction to Australia, having to indicate even if you were just going to go straight ahead when coming out from one, but overall I found driving to be far more enjoyable than in Sydney Town.

Be interested in your opinions - and BTW, you DID miss a great BBQ at at Anthony's and Karen's place. Also, did you take many more pics - if you have any, would love to see them. Regards and welcome back to reality Styria
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Old 22nd October 2009, 03:31 PM
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

It seems to me from what you say, the average top cruising speeds are becoming slower as the years go by. I drove between Lubeck and Nurnberg in 1970, in fine dry sunny weather. Then, cruising speeds for traffic on autobahns in Germany in good weather conditions would be common at around 180-200 km/hr. There were far fewer speed limit zones in those days, and it was possible to cruise at much higher speeds for much greater distances than you indicate today; there were far fewer speed restricted zones. I suspect that the reason for this is that today there are many more road users, making average traffic densities higher. Typically, a motorway lane can handle more traffic at lower speeds, and it has been found that the optimum speed is about 80 km/hr, with about 1800 vehicles per hour per lane. 80 km/hr speed zones in Japan are normally the fastest.
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Old 24th November 2009, 10:49 PM
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

Finally got around to uploading some videos.

First one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GouI0Xiy_yQ

To answer your questions, engine I'm pretty sure was a 3.0L Turbo Diesel. You can tell by the video, that there was no shortage of torque / power. Fastest i've ever been in a car. And a limo at that!
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Old 24th November 2009, 11:17 PM
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Default Re: BMW 7 Series Review

Wish my track car would go that fast fastest I've driven in anything is about 190km/h, a diesel I might add too, but still german, a VW

Interesting features though Cam. Makes you think that if the highways were full of S class and 7 series there'd be very few accidents.
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