2009 BMW 750i
2009 BMW 750i. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Russell Purcell

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Abbotsford, British Columbia – For 2009, the BMW 750i (also available in long wheelbase form as the 750iL) features several ground-breaking technologies that have been designed to elevate its level of safety; as well, my test vehicle came equipped with all the niceties one expects in a high-end executive sedan – GPS navigation, satellite radio, advanced climate control systems and an incredible audio system – there were several new gizmos on board that impressed me so much, that I found myself giving all my known associates roadside demonstrations.

BMW’s iDrive system has finally evolved into a user-friendly interface, allowing the operator to control parameters of the car’s mechanical and computer systems, as well as audio, heating, ventilation and navigation systems. User specific settings for many of the car’s comfort and lighting settings can be set using this control as well. The extra-wide, centrally-mounted system screen doubles as a viewing device for a plethora of camera systems, and can be used to watch DVDs as well.

2009 BMW 750i
2009 BMW 750i
2009 BMW 750i
2009 BMW 750i. Click image to enlarge

One technology, that being BMW’s Night Vision System, is an attention getter. The car is fitted with an infrared camera that transmits surprisingly detailed images of people, animals, and other warm-bodied things to the iDrive Control Display atop the dash. I found myself going for late night rides in the car just to do some nocturnal exploring. The Adaptive Xenon headlights offer great reach and follow the curvature of the road as you steer (and cornering lights illuminate when making a turn), but there are still things hiding out in the darkness that could pose a problem should they cross paths with the car. For example, on one occasion I came across a pair of individuals riding scooters (with inadequate lighting) in the middle of a back country section of highway. They were travelling at half the posted speed as they struggled to climb a significant grade. The Night Vision System alerted me to their presence soon enough that I was able to reduce my closing speed and not put the scooter riders’ lights out permanently.

The system has been programmed to recognize the human form, and will send a visual alert to the screen if it predicts that the being is moving closer to your path of travel. On another occasion I was able to spot a reckless skateboarder careening through traffic under the cloak of darkness. He would have been invisible to me otherwise. Having this degree of visibility was truly enlightening.

I was amazed at the incredible reach of the infrared camera system. BMW literature claims that it can only detect people and animals up to 300 metres away, but I think that number may be in reference to its ability to pick out the human form (Pedestrian Detection), as I could see the entire support structure of a local bridge that was well over a kilometre away, and the bridge has no lighting below its top deck. That is impressive!

If the Executive Package is part of your build sheet you gain two cameras that will simplify your daily safari through the urban jungle. A rear-view camera, with proximity and directional indicators projected on the dash-mounted display screen, makes parking a stress-free task. The innovative `Side View’ camera system utilizes two cameras mounted just forward of the front wheels, which when activated, project live images on a split screen. If you have a blind driveway, or tend to frequent city alleyways, this system will pay for itself in no time.

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