Click above for high-res image gallery of the 2009 BMW 7 Series
Buyers in the upper echelon of the luxury segment are increasingly demanding all-wheel traction on their rides, and BMW has evidently grown tired of seeing would-be customers flocking to rival automakers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz to get what they want. So for the first time in the model line's history, the new BMW 7 Series will be offered with all-wheel drive.
Engineers in Bavaria have reportedly worked hard to keep the 7's rear-drive dynamics intact, and have opted to fit the xDrive system with a 30:70 rearward bias instead of the 40:60 in other applications. xDrive-equipped 7s will also get a slightly higher ground clearance and Hill Decent Control, a system usually reserved for serious off-road vehicles. The option will be available on all versions of the 7 save the smallest diesels and gasoline engines that we don't get in North America anyway, fetching a €2500-2800 premium (in European markets) over conventional rear-drive versions. BMW is testing the 7 Series with xDrive in snow-draped locales before the option is offered in other markets starting at the Frankfurt Motor Show in October 2009, after which Quattros and 4Matics will be looking over their shoulders.