2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7
2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7. Photo: Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

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By Jim Kerr

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2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7

With ABS brakes, stability control and a multitude of airbags now standard equipment in even the lowest priced cars, what’s left for the manufacturers to offer for safety features? You might be surprised!

Recently I took BMW’s ActiveHybrid 7 luxury 7-series sedan out for a cruise and was amazed at how many useful safety features are incorporated into one car.

Let’s start with Blind Spot Detection, which lights an indicator and can chime an alarm when another vehicle is driving in your blind spot. The ActiveHybrid 7 takes this feature one step further by adding an “Active” part to it. The BMW’s steering will gently nudge you back into your lane if you try to move into the path of the other vehicle. It doesn’t take control, but it does let you know you missed something you should have seen.

2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 blind spot detection
2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 blind spot detection. Photo: BMW. Click image to enlarge

Lane Departure Warning uses cameras located in the outside mirrors to monitor the road markings. If you have ever driven distracted or tired and wandered outside your driving lane, you probably realize how dangerous this can be. The BMW system vibrates the steering wheel for three seconds to alert you if you wander outside the lane. Use the turn signal and the warning is cancelled.

With the push of a button, the dashboard Navigation screen turns into a night vision display. Warm or hot objects show up brighter on the display, while cold objects are dark. It is a bit like looking at photographic negatives. Objects such as vehicle tires, mufflers and radiators show up bright. Headlights don’t produce a lot of heat so they are not so bright on the display. The safety part comes into play on dark nights, where the night vision can “see” up to 300 metres, further than the headlights. Warm vehicles parked on the side of the road show up. So do animals – very clearly in fact. The BMW system is the first to offer pedestrian detection. The computer looks specifically for pedestrians and highlights them on the dash display or the optional heads-up display. If a pedestrian is in a potentially dangerous position, the pedestrian image is highlighted in yellow.

2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 heads-up display
2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 heads-up display. Photo: BMW. Click image to enlarge

A few manufacturers offer Heads-Up Display and BMW has it on the ActiveHybrid 7 sedan. This system takes the most important gauge and warnings displays and projects them onto the windshield. To the driver, it appears as if the information is floating out in space somewhere above the hood of the vehicle. You don’t have to take your eyes off the road to read the gauges or speedometer, and that makes for safer driving.

A back-up camera display shows not only what is behind the car but red and green lines to indicate the position the car will be when it is backing up. The red lines indicate the sharpest possible turn. The green lines indicate the future position of the car based on the steering angle. Position the car so the red line is at the edge of a parking spot, turn the steering until the green and red lines overlap, and you can back into the spot with ease. Here, the camera offers safety for others and convenience for the driver. Other cameras can provide a computer-generated top view of the car, so drivers can see objects around the car.

A camera on the inside rear-view mirror is part of a revolutionary new system that monitors speed limit signs along the road and displays the maximum speed limit on the driver’s display. Two more cameras mounted on the front fenders allow the driver to select “side view” so that the driver doesn’t have to move the car out into traffic from a narrow driveway or parking spot to see to the sides. The cameras show what’s at the sides on the display screen.

These are but a few of the added safety features on the ActiveHybrid 7 sedan. BMW safety begins with suspension design and tuning that provide excellent driving control. This is backed up with ABS, stability control, traction control and airbags, while other features found on the ActiveHybrid 7 add more safety and convenience.

However, the biggest safety factor in any vehicle is still the driver. BMW looks after that too, with advanced driving courses offered at select locations in Canada, and you don’t have to own a BMW to participate. BMW supplies the cars!

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