ⓘ BMW 7 Series (E65)

BMW 7 Series (E65)

ⓘ BMW 7 Series (E65)

The BMW E65 is the fourth generation of the BMW 7 Series range of full-size luxury sedans, and was produced from 2001 to 2008. The variants of the range are:

  • hydrogen-powered sedan E68 model code, marketed as Hydrogen 7
  • armoured car sedan E67 model code, marketed as High Security 7 Series
  • long-wheelbase sedan E66 model code
  • sedan E65 model code

The E65 was the first BMW vehicle to include the iDrive infotainment system, the new brand design language, active anti-roll bars, a 6-speed automatic transmission, an electronic smart Key dispensing with the traditional metallic key, and night vision. The 760i model also utilised the worlds first production V12 engine to use direct injection.

In late 2008, the E65 7 Series was replaced by the 7 Series F01.


1. Development and launch

Development for the BMW E65 7 Series began in early 1996. In early 1997, Chris Bangle delivered a brief to BMWs Munich and DesignworksUSA studios. After a competition between 20 designers, Adrian van Hooydonks design was approved in the spring of 1998. Production specifications were frozen in January 1999 and took 34 months from freeze to market launch. The design was patented on 16 November 2000 and development ended in early 2001.

The E65 was introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2001, and launched in Europe on November 2001. The launch model in the U.S. was the 745i model, which was released in January 2002, followed by the long-wheelbase 745Li in March.

In order to produce the E65 7 Series and other future models, the BMW Dingolfing plant was retooled at a cost of approximately €500.000.000.


2.1. Design Exterior styling

Under the direction of Chris Bangle, BMWs Design Chief at the time, the BMW E65 7 Series heralded a new styling era for BMW.

BMWs board of directors were keen to move the companys image into the future, and the initial styling sketches from 1998 by Adrian van Hooydonk were of a fastback body style - even more radical than the eventual production model. The controversial "flame surfacing" design greatly contrasted the conservative lines of its E38 predecessor. The rear end styling was nicknamed "Bangle Butt" by critics, due to the elongated rear bootlid.

Dimensionally the E65 7 Series is 45 mm 1.8 in longer, 38 mm 1.5 in wider and 60 mm 2.4 in taller than the E38. The wheelbase is 2.990 mm 117.7 in, an increase of 60 mm 2.4 in over the outgoing model. Despite these increased dimensions, the E65 7 Series is only 15 kg 33 lb heavier than the E38.


2.2. Design Interior styling

The E65 contained many departures from automotive interior design conventions. BMW removed the traditional console mounted gear selector, replacing it with a steering-column mounted stalk in favour of two cup holders. The e-brake is controlled using a button on the dashboard. The seat adjustment controls were moved from their traditional place on the side of the seat base to the inside of the raised central console, which drew some criticisms. Unlike most BMWs since 1975 including the E65s predecessor and successor, the centre instrument panel is not angled towards the driver.

Compared to the outgoing E38 model, the E65 7 Series has more shoulder room in the front and the rear, and increased rear headroom.


3. iDrive

The E65 was the first BMW to use the iDrive infotainment system. The system was built on the Windows CE for Automotive platform, and featured an interface primarily based around a central control knob. Many of the functions such as climate, navigation, seat heating, telephony, and car settings were incorporated into a single system allowing for centralised control. Early versions of iDrive were criticised for complicated menu structures and a steep learning curve.

The first generation of the system relied on CD media for map data. In March 2003, the maps switched to DVD format, a faster processor was used and a Menu and Customisable button were added below the control knob. In 2005, dedicated buttons were added to change radio stations or skip tracks and a brighter screen was used for the 8.8" widescreen option.


4. Equipment

The E65 was the flagship model and the most technologically advanced car produced by BMW at the time.

The following features were first introduced on the E65:

  • Two fibre optic electronic networks: MOST Bus Media Orientated System Transport and "Byteflight" safety systems bus. These busses operate at 22.5Mbit/s and 10Mbit/s respectively. Also, the I-bus, K-bus and P-bus were replaced by the K-CAN Body-Controller Area Network. This increased the system speed from 9.6kbit/s to 100kbit/s.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control ACC, however this was available in some markets on the previous generation 7 Series E38.
  • First BMW with DVD-based GPS Automotive navigation system.
  • V8 models were the first to use BMWs new N62 V8 engine, which was the worlds first engine to use a continuously variable-length intake manifold. It was also BMWs first V8 engine to use variable valve lift Valvetronic, replacing throttle butterflies during normal running conditions for added response, efficiency and power.
  • Active anti-roll bars Active Roll Stabilisation to reduce body roll when cornering. It uses a hydraulic servo in the middle of the anti-roll bar to actively counteract body roll and to reduce body roll without the traditional trade-off in ride comfort.
  • Directional headlights Adaptive Headlights which electronically adjust the low beam lights horizontally during turns and vertically based on rear axle load adjustment of the low beam. Also, the E65 was the first BMW available with bi-Xenon HID headlights.
  • The optional Automatic Soft Close system minimized the force required to close the doors and boot lid, and would completely close them if improperly closed.
  • Worlds first car with an electric park brake. This could automatically activate in stop-and-go traffic situations and when the ignition was switched off.
  • World’s first 6-speed automatic transmission in a sedan.


5. Transmissions

The available transmissions are:

  • 6-speed ZF 6HP32 automatic 745d
  • 6-speed ZF 6HP26 automatic 730d / 735i / 740d / 740i / 745i / 750i / 760i
  • 6-speed ZF 6HP19 automatic 730i

6.1. Special models Alpina B7

The Alpina B7 prototype was introduced to the public at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show in March, and the production version was later unveiled at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show. Production began in February 2004, and was built in the Dingolfing BMW plant alongside the regular E65 models.

The Alpina B7 uses a supercharged version of the 4.4-litre V8 found in the 745i, and was the first Alpina model to feature a supercharged engine.

Exterior changes include a rear spoiler and 21-inch traditional Alpina multi-spoke style wheels. Interior changes include sports seats, an Alpina instrument cluster, a three spoke steering wheel with shift buttons, and a silver plated production plaque.

803 units were produced for North America, and 311 cars were produced for other countries.


6.2. Special models Long-Wheelbase 7 Series E66

The E66 long-wheelbase models, badged "Li" were introduced in June 2002. Long-wheelbase models are 140 mm 5.5 in longer, allowing for extra rear legroom. The initial long wheelbase models were the 735Li, 745Li and 760Li In 2003, 730Li, 730Ld, 740Li and 750Li model was added to the lineup in 2005.


6.3. Special models BMW High Security 7 Series E67

The E67 High Security 7 Series is an armoured variant of the BMW 7 Series. The 760Li High Security was introduced at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, with the 745Li High Security model released later in September 2003.

E65 High Security models are designed to withstand attacks, and meet the requirements of the B7 weapons standard. Security features include a detachable multi-layer laminated windscreen, a remote starting system, a fire extinguishing system, a fresh air system, and under-body protection. High Security models also feature run flat tyres, with Michelin’s PAX system; which allows continuous driving of 80 km/h 50 mph for approximately 50 km 31 mi, with a puncture.

BMW offers a buyback service for High Security models up to 7 years old, which are inspected then resold to potential customers worldwide. A training course is also offered to owners and chauffeurs, and teaches car control in case of emergency situations.


6.4. Special models BMW Hydrogen 7 E68

The BMW Hydrogen 7 is a limited production hydrogen-fueled model. It uses a modified version of the 760Lis N73 V12 engine, producing 191 kW 256 bhp. Claimed fuel economy is 50 L/100 km 4.7 mpg ‑US and the hydrogen is stored as a liquid in an insulated 170 L 45 US gal tank. Only 100 cars were made, which were leased to high-profile customers, in order to promote the use of hydrogen vehicles.


7.1. Model year changes 2003

  • 760i & 760Li V12 model was introduced.
  • iDrive updates: Addition of Menu and Customisable buttons, maps switched to DVD format, and a faster processor was used.

7.2. Model year changes 2005 facelift

In March 2005, the E65 facelift was introduced. In the United States, it was sold as the 2006 model year.

The major changes are:

  • Revised styling for front and rear bodywork, headlights and tail-lights including removal of the centre light bar running across the boot lid. BMW offered "conversion kits" that could be purchased by existing owners to apply these exterior changes to pre-facelift cars.
  • iDrive updates including a simplified interface, clearer graphics, and the iDrive controller now having a leather top surface.
  • Adaptive cruise control upgraded to ACC II.
  • Rear track width increased by 14 mm 0.55 in.
  • 730i and 730d engines received minor performance and efficiency upgrades.
  • 740i, 750i, and 745d engines introduced as replacements.

Pre-facelift styling

Post-facelift styling


7.3. Model year changes Late 2005

In late 2005, BMW introduced BMW Night Vision which uses passive infrared and processes far infrared radiation, to minimise non-essential information, placing a greater emphasis on pedestrians and animals. It allows for a range of 300 m 980 ft, and avoids "dazzle" from headlights, road lights and similar intense light sources.

At the same time, automatic beam switching High-Beam Assistant was introduced. This system detects oncoming light sources to automatically engage the high beam lights in dark areas and then dip the high beam lights to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.