- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2002

The 2002 BMW 7 Series of cars are the most advanced vehicles in the world.
The changes are so radical I had to ask many embarrassing questions about my test-drive model: How do I start it? How do I put it in gear? What's this for? What does that do? Even now, I'm not completely familiar with this vehicle, but without doubt, the all-new 745i and 745Li are years ahead of any vehicle on the road.
Before I drove the 745i, its designer, Chris Bangle gave me a walk-around, explaining why each line was broadened or diminished. He detailed the reasons for widening the headlamp design, rounding out the rear end, and providing a wider trunk opening. And as a finishing touch, Bangle added a small shark fin on the roof. This vehicle, mounted on 18-inch or 19-inch wheels, looks aggressive, exciting, powerful and ready to roll. Best of all, the grille clearly identifies it as a BMW.
The interior is plush with leather and wood. One design change is a inlay of wood across the center of the dash panel. Above are two hoods. Within the hood directly in front of the steering wheel the driver can find all the necessary information. The other hood, located toward the center of the panel, contains numerous functions, such as the sound system, navigational system, phone, etc. Below the panel of wood are buttons and dials to easily make changes in the sound or ventilation while driving.
I took the car for a quick spin around rural Texas; 320 miles passed before I knew it because this car is so fast! During the trip I was able to drive the long- and short-wheelbase models. Both are equipped with a new 4.4-liter V8 engine that produces 325 horsepower. This is as much horsepower as the BMW's 12-cylinder engine, except the response is noticeably better. There are numerous reasons too complicated for this brief explanation, but the essence is: BMW engineers have found ways to practically eliminate friction, and to cause the valve lift to vary continuously.
The power is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission! That operates electrically, not mechanically. The shifter is a simple lever that switches to reverse, drive or park. *p The ignition key is a multi-function remote control capable of performing numerous tasks based on BMW's iDrive system, which means that it divides the vehicle's control environment into two areas driving and comfort.
A BMW representative sat next to me explaining some of the functions. By simply touching a button on the steering wheel, a voice responds. Using voice commands, I could dial preset phone numbers, use the navigator and notepad. The navigational map revealed extreme accuracy with every curve in the isolated roads I drove.
Speeding was my biggest bugaboo. At times I'd looked at the speedometer and could not believe how fast I was going because the ride was so smooth and quiet.
An aluminum frame provided extreme rigidity, which in turn allowed the entire suspension system to perform to perfection. Both cars are very spacious and exceptionally quiet.
The frame is also used to provide the best sound system I've ever heard. Somehow, the Harman/-Becker people used the frame under the seats to install small sub-woofers enabling their surround-sound to work superbly.
There's much to be said regarding the engineering and safety features

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