BMW's flagship 7 Series model gets a mid-life revamp that includes a radical grille design, more advanced technology and better refinement
Bold makeover The latest 7 Series continues to offer a posh and commodious cabin. PHOTO: BMW

Most cars get a mid-life makeover before their successors come along.

Often, the results of the nip-and-tuck procedure can be so subtle that the changes may even be hard to spot.

You'll have no trouble spotting the changes in the sixth-generation 7 Series, which received an extensive revamp four years after its debut.

The most prominent change is the new single-piece kidney grille. It is 40 per cent larger than before and is accentuated by slimmer LED headlights.

Head of Project 7 Series Rainer Thoma said the largest market for the model is China at 41 per cent, followed by the United States at 17 per cent.

Surveys show that customers in both markets prefer their limousines big and bold. So this radical redesign was a business decision, not a whimsical Chris Bangle moment.

Chris Bangle was a controversial designer and former chief of design at BMW Group.

Less radical are the new, slimmer three-dimensional LED tail-lights.

These are connected by a thin light-strip that further emphasises the car's width. There are also larger exhaust pipe housings.

The latest 7 Series continues to offer a posh and commodious cabin, especially in Li (long-wheelbase) form.

There is new Nappa leather upholstery and extended quilted padding to give the interior a plusher ambience.

Tech-wise, the new 7 Series is equipped with Live Cockpit Professional - BMW's 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that incorporates the brand's latest Operating System (OS) 7.0.

OS 7.0 has cloud connectivity and is able to receive over-the-air software updates.

Users interact with the system via the touchscreen, buttons and iDrive knob.

They can also say "Hey BMW" to ask the system for assistance. The car's artificial intelligence can help improve your personal well-being too.

For instance, saying "Hey BMW, I feel tired" will prompt the car to try and wake you up by brightening the mood lighting, blasting the air-conditioner and increasing the music volume.

After a three-minute "refresh", these settings will revert to their previous levels.

BMW's Parking Assistant Plus has also received an upgrade. It now comes standard with Reversing Assistant, which memorises the last 50m of forward travel.

When activated, it reverses the car out the same way it was driven in.

This should come in handy when you need to back out of a tight spot, but there is not enough room to do a three-point manoeuvre.

During the model's international launch in Portugal, I drove the 750Li and 745Le. The former is powered by a turbocharged 4.4-litre V8, while the latter is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.

Both cars have all-wheel-drive.

When it comes to flagship limousines, the 7 Series is still the benchmark for driving dynamics.

This was evident as I tackled the twisty mountain roads on our Algarve test route.

The 750Li and 745Le, however, will be available in Singapore only on an indent basis.

The local line-up will consist of the turbocharged 2-litre 730Li and the turbocharged 3-litre 740Li. Both are slated to arrive in the third quarter of this year.

Polarising grille design aside, the 7 Series remains the limo of choice for big bosses who relish the driving experience as much as they enjoy being chauffeured.