The interior is in a class of its own. My first experience inside the 745i series was as a passenger, so it was easy to concentrate on the luxurious ride and deluxe cabin. The cushy Nasca leather seats are truly supreme. The particular model I was riding in was equipped with the ventilated "Comfort" seat option. This includes 20-way adjustable power front seats, with articulated backrests and adjustable thigh support, and I do believe it's the first time I have ever fit perfectly in a seat. Even the headrest could be adjusted low enough to suit my petite 5'4" frame. The need for more space inside is rarely an issue for me, but the new 7 certainly roomier. The extra headroom in both front and back is particularly significant. Immediately on returning home, I called a friend, who is 6'4" tall and has had a terrible time finding a sedan that fits, and encouraged him to go check it out.


The interior design and color choices are tasteful and very interesting. My first impression was a flashback to the early 1970's, when Scandinavian design furniture was fashionable in the States. The clean, sparse lines and soft-finished teak were fresh and hot. This is the look of new 7's interior, very Danish-sleek with all the metals satin brushed and the cherry wood set with a matte finish. (If this should prove too Euro for your taste, there is also a glossy version available). The center console, dominated by a giant knob, instead of a gear shift, took me a few minutes to warm up to. This knob, located between the front seats, controls the 700-plus function iDrive system like a computer mouse. Hand-eye co-ordination becomes a new driving skill as the I-Drive knob is linked to a large dash-mounted LCD screen. While behind the wheel, pointing and clicking through the eight menus wasn't easy for me, so I chose to relax with it and let my passenger deal with the programming. The iDrive knob can control HVAC, audio, NAV system, trip computer and almost everything else in this rolling laboratory. For a gadget lover, iDrive will provide hours of amusement. Admittedly, I was initially intimidated by the system, but later finding it reasonably easy to use, I quickly came to the conclusion that one need not be a software engineer to master its basic functions. For non-gear heads like myself, it's reassuring to know the that all the frequently-used functions (audio, climate, etc.) can simply be accessed through traditional knobs and buttons if preferred. The rest of the dashboard is very Zen, with a little start/stop button, a push-button parking brake and no real key as we've come to expect. The turn signal and shifter are replaced by these strange little stubs that are called "stalks", poking out behind the steering wheel. It is all very strange at first, but as you become familiar, it begins to make sense. Just as the exterior styling had grown on me, after a while, I sat in this high-end cockpit thinking "This is very cool!" The Harman Kardon 13-speaker "Logic 7" sound system, turns the two-channel stereo signal into a seven-channel 360-degree surround-sound symphony. Both the optional "Logic 7," or the standard 10-speaker in-dash AM/FM/CD player, can be controlled in three ways - via buttons on the steering wheel, through the iDrive menus, or the old fashioned way with dials on the dash.