- Post is under moderationBMW 7-SERIES 7, turned up to 11 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-G11 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW / #2019 / #BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12 / #2019-BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12
This glitzy 7-series facelift isn’t subtle, but there’s substance behind the oversized kidney grille
Licensed to grille, king of the grille – we could go on making poor jokes about the enormous nostrils on Munich’s updated limo but let’s be adult about this, because, believe it or not, that front end is the result of feedback from actual BMW-7-Series customers.
BMW responded to the call for bolder styling by enlarging the trademark kidney grille by 48 per cent – it’s so big it made the standard badge look microscopic, and designers had to prise a much larger BMW roundel off an X7 to redress the balance.
The highest point of the nose is now 5cm higher to make the front end look more upright, plus there are thinner head- and tail lights, and a light strip running full-width across the boot. Both the long- and short-wheelbase cars have grown 22 millimetres in length, while bigger vents improve the aerodynamics around the wheels.
Tall rear-seat passengers might find themselves a little tight on headroom but are easily distracted by a pair of 10-inch displays and a Blu-ray player. As before, everything is controlled by a seven-inch removable tablet taking in seat adjustment, lighting and climate, as well as infotainment and sat-nav.
Behind the huge honker you’ll find engines ranging from an improved plug-in hybrid to a #V12 petrol, with a new V8 and different versions of the best-selling six-cylinder turbodiesel making up the bulk of the range.
We reckon the #BMW-745Le-xDrive-G12 plug-in hybrid is a real highlight – it’s now capable of up to 36 electric-only miles and features a more powerful straight-six petrol engine. It’s impressively wafty and serenely quiet-running in EV mode, thanks to the thicker glass now fitted all-round and more insulation in the wheelarches and B-pillars.
But it’s the superb 4.4-litre V8 750i that’s most rewarding when you up the pace, and the stiff, Carbon Core’d chassis delivers thrills in ways no massive limo should.
The 7-series remains the best driver’s car in a market where most buyers prefer to be driven by someone else.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
BMW designers tried a 50% bigger grille, but no, too vulgar; 48% it is
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- Post is under moderationLeading Role. We head off to California to sample BMW’s most powerful road car, the stunning M #BMW-760Li-xDrive-G12 / #BMW-7-Series-G11 . BMW continues its fine V12 tradition with the range-topping M760Li xDrive, but does it deserve the M badge or is it just acting the part? Words: Shane O’ Donoghue. Photography: Uwe Fischer and Barry Hayden.
To help us get into the mind set of potential buyers of a car like the new M760Li, BMW brought us to Palm Springs in California. There, we got to have a close-up look at how the other half lives, the other half that we watch on our cinema screens, for example, marvelling at their acting talents. I presume that these people don’t need a degree from RADA to feign disinterest in the sticker price of a car, but they’re not impervious to numbers, which is partly why there remains, in 2017, a BMW you (they – no offence) can buy with a prominent ’V12’ badge on its flanks.
And as we stood sipping cocktails with BMW’s engineers on the lawn of a house owned by Leonardo DiCaprio (you couldn’t make it up), there sat a clear reminder, in the guise of a highly original looking E32 BMW 750iL, that BMW has previous with the #V12 engine layout. Indeed, #2017 marks the 30th anniversary of its introduction and there has been a healthy stream of #V12-engined BMWs ever since.
But this one is different. This is the first developed by BMW M and wearing the evocative red, blue and purple striped badging. The name is a little longwinded, but that indicates its positioning as an M Performance Vehicle, not a full-on M car. We asked Frank van Meel, BMW M’s boss, why not call it simply the #BMW-M7 , and he explained that, to back that up, the 7 Series would have to lose some of its comfort and comportment in a bid to give it the razor-sharp responses and focus of a true M car. He reckons there isn’t really a market out there for such a model. That doesn’t, he insists, mean that the M760Li should be seen as a pretender to the throne. The remit for the #BMW-M760Li was simple: give buyers the absolute best-in-segment combination of driving dynamics and ride comfort.
Before we get to that, however, we really should address the powerplant, as it’s a tad special. The 6.6-litre V12 is fed air by two mono-scroll turbochargers (twin-scroll ’chargers were deemed unnecessary to reach the target output and responsiveness) making for maximum figures of 610hp at 5500rpm and 590lb ft of torque from just 1550rpm all the way around to 5000rpm – just below that peak power point, notice. It starts up with a purposeful rumble, but unless you’ve selected Sport mode it settles into a subdued idle and it’s whisper quiet and smooth around town or even at a high-speed cruise. The sound changes markedly if you either pin the throttle for an extended period or you press the Sport button. There’s a bypass valve in the exhaust that opens automatically at wide open throttle under load or when the car is in the Sport setting and it lets the V12 sing in its distinctive voice, though being an M car it’s given a harderedged note here than it might otherwise have had. Oddly, BMW thought it necessary to amplify the sound by small amounts through the car’s speakers. We wouldn’t have thought it was required with such a power unit to play with.
Although the long wheelbase 7 Series uses its ’Carbon Core’ to help reduce weight, it’s still not far off two and a half tonnes, so the official 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds is scandalous – it’s the quickest of any BMW in production right now. And owners of the car can attempt to repeat that feat over and over thanks to the inclusion of a simple-to-use launch control function in the eight-speed automatic transmission. Come to a stop, keep the brake pedal down hard with your left foot, floor the throttle without releasing the brake just yet and a little chequered flag appears in the all-digital instrumentation as the revs settle at an optimum point. Release the brake within three seconds and the rear dips, the nose rises and before you know it you’re doing licence-shredding speeds, punctuated by fast, smooth gearchanges exactly where the computer thinks they should be. It sounds dramatic, but actually it’s so controlled and so effortless for the engine that it’s almost an anti-climax. That transmission is a beauty though, perfectly smooth and refined in Comfort mode and a little quicker in the Sport setting without ever feeling as razor-sharp or uncouth as BMW M’s dual-clutch transmission can be. Even on two different tracks we found little need to take over control via the tactile wheel-mounted gearchange paddles.
That’s right, we brought this long wheelbase luxury car weighing over 2200kg to a race circuit and lived to tell the tale. In fact, the M760Li gave a rather good account of itself. Before we were let loose on the ’Triple Crown’ race circuit at The Thermal Club (adjacent to the new BMW Performance Center West in California and basically a purpose-built five-mile track for the well-heeled to play on with their expensive toys – it’s possible to buy a villa overlooking the circuit with all-inclusive access to the track at any time, for example), we tried out the big Seven on a handling circuit that initially looked more suited to karting than a big limousine. Even in Comfort mode the car didn’t feel out of place, while selecting Sport upped the fun quotient considerably and all four tyres were soon squealing with delight (that’s what it is, right?) as it felt perfectly natural to push the M760Li to its limits, even on such a narrow piece of tarmac.
Following other drivers in convoy it was possible to see that the rear wheels were steering too, the presence of Integral Active Steering helping the long Seven feel profoundly agile in tight and acute direction changes in particular. Mapped to the driving modes, the rear-wheel steering system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speeds to help manoeuvrability and agility in slower corners, while turning them in the same direction at higher speeds to enhance stability – such as in the case of a high-speed lane change. It’s remarkably effective on track given that the rear wheels have a maximum angle of just three degrees, though its inclusion in the chassis has allowed BMW to use a more direct front axle steering ratio – itself featuring a variable ratio rack. And there’s even enough information coming through the steering wheel rim for you to adjust your line at speed.
We discovered that more so on the wide expanses of the Triple Crown track, where lovely long and reassuringly wide sweeping bends allowed time to explore the outer limits of the chassis’ ability. The most impressive aspect of all this was perhaps the unflappable brakes. They’re steel discs all-round and we had no issues with pedal feel or fade after a few fast laps, each featuring several high-speed straights into much slower corners. The Michelin Pilot tyres eventually became the weakest link as they heated up, but even so, the chassis balance means it’s all well-telegraphed and controllable. Leave all the driver assistance systems in place and the M760Li will lap smoothly and quickly with little drama, but even with traction and stability control turned off, it’s no handful in the dry.
What’s more, the chassis is highly resistant to understeer, instead preferring to gradually move into a neutral four-wheel slide – after quite a bit of provocation I should add. When this happens, there’s little reason to back off the throttle fully, instead trimming the line by slight adjustments with your right foot, helping the M760Li feel more rear-driven than you might expect. Unsurprisingly, xDrive four-wheel drive is standard, but it’s undoubtedly a system that prefers a rear-drive bias. By default, 100 per cent of the engine output is sent to the back axle, and an army of sensors help the control unit decide when it would be prudent to send power to the front. But even then the maximum that can be apportioned to the front wheels is 50 percent.
There’s plenty more trickery in the suspension, and the clever part of this car, which few buyers will appreciate, is how all the sub-systems interact with each other. So the air suspension (same volume as in the rest of the 7 Series line-up, but retuned to suit the M760Li) and Dynamic Damper Control systems are brought together with active roll stabilisation within the Executive Drive Pro system. And this is the key to the M760Li’s breadth of abilities. On track, being driven faster than any real buyer of this car is likely to drive it, the M760Li does feel big, but it’s remarkably controlled and controllable; there’s no unseemly lurching or body lean or pronounced nose dive under hard braking – it just gets on with it, even if you are aware of the battle with the laws of physics.
When we finished our circuit driving, we took the same cars out on the public road where it revealed its alter ego. There, despite the low profile tyres and a more sporting remit than any other #BMW-7-Series , the M760Li was just as comfortable as them – even on really poor road surfaces. What’s more, it was eerily smooth and refined and comfortable even in Sport mode when not in a hurry, while Comfort and Comfort Plus delivered the clichéd magic carpet experience. That active roll stabilisation system plays a large part in that, as it allows for greater wheel movement in a straight line than fixed anti-roll bars, while quickly reacting to turning forces and cancelling them out before you’ve realised in the corners. It’s so effective that the best driving mode for the public road is Adaptive. This uses data from the sat nav, a stereo camera and other variables defining driving style to best set the car up for any given moment. Few will find fault with it, though many will still prefer to actively choose a given mode, of course.
For those that want all the performance and dynamic ability of the M760Li, but not necessarily the attention it might attract, there’s the ’Excellence’ version of the car (pictured below), which is available for the same £132,310 price. This does without the M aerodynamic package, has a lot more shiny chrome, unique (much less sporting) 20-inch wheels, less M badging and a quieter exhaust at all times. Inside, it gets a few other bespoke touches (for the already sumptuous cabin with its #BMW Individual leather upholstery and lots lots more) and the gearchange paddles are removed.
For completion (ok, we just wanted more track time), we took the Excellence variant out on the Triple Crown track for a few fast laps and, in honesty, it felt no different at all. In truth, many will think that its subtle #V12 badging and appearance mean a less vulgar looking car, in keeping with the wishes of certain members of The Rich and Famous Club to keep a low profile. Hence it may not fit in around Palm Springs way…
The M760Li does feel big, but it’s remarkably controlled and controllable; there’s no unseemly lurching or body lean.
Despite the low profile tyres and a more sporting remit than any other #BMW-7-Series-G12 the M760Li was just as comfortable.
It starts up with a purposeful rumble, but unless you’ve selected Sport mode it settles into a subdued idle and it’s whisper quiet and smooth.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #2017 / #BMW-M760Li-xDrive / #BMW-M760Li-xDrive-G12 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-G11 /
ENGINE: #V12 , 48-valve, turbocharged
MAX POWER: 610hp @ 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 590lb ft @ 1550-5000rpm
0-62MPH: 3.7 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (can be upped to 190mph with M Driver’s package)
WEIGHT (EU): 2255kg
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- Post is under moderationAdditional options for the #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW-G11 / #BMW-G12
From March #2017 there will be a broader choice of driver assistance systems for 7 Series models. The systems will be included in the optional equipment package ‘ #Driving-Assistant-Plus ’ and will offer the driver effective assistance in many different situations, ultimately leading the way to automated driving.
A further addition to the range of Driving Assistant Plus functions is the #ActiveAssist-Collision-Avoidance system. Should a rapid lane change become necessary in order to avoid a suddenly appearing obstacle, it provides steering assistance at speeds of up to 100mph. The Cross Traffic Alert function, also included in the equipment package from March, provides visual and acoustic signals if the traffic signs identified by the stereo camera should indicate that the driver has overlooked a road with right of way.
The new Driving Assistant Plus features are complemented by the #Wrong-Way-Driving-Alert feature. This system analyses navigation data in order to provide information on hazardous situations. It intervenes when the vehicle is driving in the wrong direction into one-way streets, roundabouts or motorway entrances.
Lastly for the #BMW 7 Series in conjunction with the #Surround-View system drivers of a 7 Series will in future also have access to the #Remote-3D-View feature, the Surround View system which provides them with permanent access to a three-dimensional live image of their vehicle and its surroundings which can be transmitted to their smartphone via the #BMW-Connected feature.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationChauffeuring gong for #BMW-730Ld / #BMW-730Ld-G12 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-G11 / #BMW / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G12 /
The 730Ld Saloon has been crowned Car of the Year at the Professional Driver Car of the Year #2016 awards, while also taking the title of Chauffeur Car of the Year.
The 7 Series was commended for its unrivalled mix of comfort, driver satisfaction, and outstanding features, making it the ideal chauffeur car both for the driver and their passengers. Mark Bursa, editor of Professional Driver magazine, said: “The new BMW 730Ld registered one of the highest average scores for any car we’ve ever seen in the history of the #Professional-Driver-Car of the Year Awards. Factor in some impressively low running costs and some great manufacturer back-up, and you’ve got an exceptional car.”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationA Highland Fling / 7 SERIES DRIVE / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW-740Ld-xDrive-M-Sport-G12 / #BMW-740Ld-G12 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-740Ld-xDrive-G12 / #BMW / #2017
A trip through Scotland in the latest #BMW-7-Series to visit the historic Machrihanish Airbase.
David Finlay takes the latest 740Ld #xDrive for a nostalgic drive through Scotland to visit the site of an unlikely 7 Series-based record attempt in the 1980s. Words and photography: David Finlay.
In a straight line, Machrihanish is 65 miles from the centre of Glasgow, or ‘just round the corner’ as those of us who live in the west of Scotland would say, but if you think this means you can get from one to the other by car in an hour or so you can forget it. The most efficient route involves travelling through Argyll, which has so many lochs that its coastline is longer than that of France. Not one of them has a bridge over it so, unless you’re prepared to wait for ferries the best option is to drive round them all, racking up over 140 miles in the process.
It’s worth the trouble. Within half an hour of leaving the city you’re driving up the west bank of Loch Lomond where, even on a dull day, the scenery is such as to render non-locals slack-jawed. At Tarbet, where the A82 becomes the A83, you veer away towards the Rest And Be Thankful, bypassing a narrow track which was once a venue for a round of the British Hillclimb Championship, later a rally stage, and still used even now by rally drivers wanting to brush up on their Tarmac technique in the occasional Test On The Rest events. More prosaically, it also serves as a relief road when the A83 is blocked by increasingly frequent landslides.
Feel free at this point to stop in the car park, gaze back down the glen and grab some refreshments at the burger van, but don’t get too excited about stories that the latter is operated by Dario Franchitti’s uncle. It used to be but it was taken over a few years ago by a chap called John Mather, who is splendid company and has an admirable policy about how much bacon there should be in a bacon roll.
You’ll spend a long time after this swooping through bends on the banks of Loch Fyne until you reach Tarbert. (Yes, I know – lots of places in Scotland have names like this). The road then goes briefly cross-country across the top of the Kintyre peninsula before reaching the Atlantic coast. The scenery here is arguably the best yet, depending on your personal preference, and certainly the broadest.
To your right are the distant islands of Jura and Islay (pronounced eye-lah) and the much closer Gigha (pronounced gee-ah). As sea views go, this one is quite splendid, but it stands in contrast to the fact that you’re now in rich farming country. It rains a lot round here, so the grass is very lush, contributing to the area’s deservedly high reputation for dairy produce.
If you like, you can dart off to the left every so often and explore charming little lanes, though you’ll have to be prepared to reverse for long distances back to the nearest passing place so you can make room for farm traffic. You may prefer to keep the flow going as the A83 swoops southwards through tiny villages with varying levels of pronunciation difficulty such as Tayinloan, Glenbarr, Muasdale and Bellochantuy.
This is probably the better option if, as I am, you’re driving a #BMW-740Ld-xDrive-M-Sport Nearly as wide as some of the smaller lanes, it’s much more suitable for the main road itself, progressing elegantly through the hundreds of sweeping curves and not feeling out of place on any of the much rarer tight ones even though it’s more than 17 feet long.
My favourite of the three driving modes is Eco Pro. It gives you various fuel-saving possibilities (contributing to fuel economy of well over 40mpg on this run) and forces you into the Comfort setting for engine and gearbox response, which is my favourite anyway because I think Sport is a little too excitable. Within Eco Pro, however, you can select Sport for the steering and damping, and that’s what I do. For me, this setting suits Kintyre better.
The ‘capital’ of Kintyre is Campbeltown, the fourth largest town in Argyll with a population of 4852 (according to the most recent census taken in 2011). A century ago, it had one of the highest per capita incomes in the whole of the UK, thanks to the success of its farming, fishing, shipbuilding and whisky industries, and while it no longer thrives to anything like this extent you can still see signs of the glory days, particularly in the design of some of the more spectacular houses.
The former mining village of Machrihanish, a short drive to the west over mostly straight roads, isn’t short of architectural splendour either, particularly on the outskirts across the road from the internationally famous golf course. On his first visit here in the late 1870s, Scottish golfer Old Tom Morris exclaimed, ‘The Almighty had golf in his eye when he made this place,’ and since he had already won the Open Championship four times before he arrived I think we can safely take his word for it. The first hole is regarded in some circles as being one of the most difficult anywhere in the world because a careless tee shot can send your ball flying into the Atlantic, never to be seen again. I don’t know much about golf, but I’m pretty sure this is not a cause for celebration.
This is by no means the only claim to fame Machrihanish can boast of. In 1906 a local transmitting station was at one end of the first successful two-way transatlantic radio broadcast, exchanging Morse code signals with an identical one in Massachusetts, though the mast collapsed later that year before the service became commercially useful.
Then there’s the airfield. Formerly known as RAF Machrihanish, it was used for military purposes on and off from the First World War onwards and was still under Ministry of Defence responsibility until 2012, when it was sold to the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC).
Part of the 10,003ft main runway is still used for small planes taking passengers to and from Glasgow, but the rest of the site now has many other purposes including a business park, a conference centre and it’s home to a very popular single-venue Tarmac rally.
Furthermore, in recent years there have been sturdy efforts to have it named as the UK’s first spaceport. If this happens, Machrihanish airfield will suddenly become far better known than it has ever been before. Even now, it’s more famous than you probably realise. You may be aware of a successful 1985 Hollywood film called White Nights, which had a formidable cast including Gregory Hines, Helen Mirren, Isabella Rossellini, future Bond Girl Maryam d’Abo and ballet dancer turned actor Mikhail Baryshnikov. (Further unnecessary detail: Lionel Ritchie’s song Say You, Say Me was written specifically for it, and went on to become a US number one hit.) Early in the film, Baryshnikov’s character is unfortunate enough to be in a Boeing 747 when it crash lands in Siberia. It would be quite common, and indeed understandable, for this scene to be faked, but it wasn’t, except for the fact that the studio saved money by buying an older Boeing and converting it to look like a 747. According to Malcolm McMillan, MACC’s Business Development Manager, the crash itself was genuine, and performed at Machrihanish by an Irish stunt pilot who cheerfully stepped unharmed out of the wreckage to collect his no doubt considerable fee. Malcolm tells me about this during a pleasant chat after I arrive unannounced at his office and tell him the real reason I’ve brought the 740Ld here. This, you see, is more than just an enjoyable run to a gorgeous part of the world in a lovely car. It’s also, in a sense, a pilgrimage.
I first visited Machrihanish in December 1988 to report on, of all things, an attempt on the UK rooftop ski speed record. The car used was a #BMW-745i-E23 , a turbocharged version of the recently discontinued 732i. The 745i of this era wasn’t sold in the UK because the turbo required engine bay space already taken up by the steering column on right-hand drive models, but a Glasgow-based company called AVA Turbos imported one and prepared it for circuit racing in the hands of the very experienced Iain Gardner. AVA was co-owned by Alan Clark, whose brother Norman was a successful downhill speed skier. It seemed perfectly reasonable for the 745i to be given a roof rack and a set of skis and taken to Machrinhanish, where Norman would climb aboard and hang on while Alan drove it flat-out down the main runway.
Norman seemed quite placid about the whole thing, but there were risks. In particular, it was vitally important for him to maintain the tuck position. If he didn’t, one arm would fly backwards in the wind, followed almost immediately by the other arm and then the rest of him. The first Alan thing knew about it would be the sound of his brother’s crash helmet shattering the rear window. Rather him than me…
On its first and only run the BMW went hurtling through the speed trap at 141.5mph, comfortably beating the existing record. The Clarks were happy, but knew they could go quicker. The speed trap had been set up very conservatively; it could be moved many yards further down the runway and still leave room for Alan to brake the car gently to a standstill.
The car’s sponsor, who owned a building company in Glasgow, was more cautious. The team, he said, had achieved its goal. Rather than put Norman in any more danger, he suggested packing up right then and treating everyone present to lunch in Campbeltown.
No one had any objection to this, not least because by this time our bodies were starting to protest at being subjected to midwinter Kintyre weather. We weren’t quite finished, though. Since it was impractical to have another car running alongside the 745i during the record run, it had not been possible to take decent pictures, so we had to mock them up.
Alan and Norman went down the runway twice more at a modest 60mph, accompanied by me driving my parents’ Peugeot 309 with a couple of photographers hanging out of the passenger side windows. For Norman, this was no fun at all. He was in much less danger, but holding the tuck position for more than twice as long while experiencing a wind chill factor of ‘get me out of here’ was extremely uncomfortable. The 141.5mph run, he told us later, was the easy bit.
Malcolm McMillan kindly allows me to take the 740Ld on to the main runway for a nostalgic photo shoot. The eastern section is now blocked off for commercial flights but I park on a section where the 745i had started to build up speed on its way to making history and gaze down towards where there was once, for a couple of hours, a carefully set up speed trap. This is the view the Clark brothers had on that perishingly cold day nearly 28 years ago. I envy them both to some extent, but I envy Alan far more than I do Norman.
Satisfied with the experience, and grateful to Malcolm for his help, I fire up the 740Ld again and head back to a more densely populated area of Scotland. The drive home is every bit as delightful as the drive here was.
It seemed perfectly reasonable for the 745i to be given a roof rack and a set of skis and taken to Machrinhanish where Norman would climb aboard and hang on.
The road then goes cross-country across the top of the Kintyre peninsula before reaching the Atlantic coast. The scenery here is arguably the best yet.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCross Pollination
Blend BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo with an electric motor and you have a very fine 7 Series indeed. Take one technological marvel – the G12 7 Series – blend carefully with BMW i know-how and voilà, you have a hybrid Seven. Does it make sense for the UK buyer though? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: #Drive-My and BMW.
There was a time when it might have been unthinkable to propose a 7 Series with a four-cylinder engine – the executive express is all about sublime wafty comfort after all and badging a model in the rangetopping series as, say, a 720d just isn’t going to cut it for the company chairman. Even with all today’s downsizing, where 12s are becoming eights and sixes are turning into fours and fours into threes, one did think that perhaps the 7 Series would be sacrosanct and stick with the largest engines possible…
But that’s not the case and here we have the world’s first four-cylinder 7 Series: the 740e. It’s that last letter that gives the game away, though, as in BMW speak ‘e’ equates to added electrification, so not only do we have a four-cylinder petrol engine up front but this is backed-up by a synchronous electric motor and a 7.4kWh lithium-ion battery. Combined peak output is 326hp and 369lb ft of torque – surely more than enough for the chauffer room bragging rights. One might have a niggling doubt that when it’s in operation on its own that the four-pot petrol might not be man enough for the job but, as the most powerful incarnation of this engine, its 258hp and 295lb ft of torque should be more than enough to be getting one with, surely? Well, there’s only one way to find out…
If you’ve not driven a Seven for a while it does take a little bit of familiarisation when you slip back behind the wheel – not that it’s difficult to drive or is particularly intimidating from behind the wheel, but if you’re to get the best from it you need to remember what all the buttons and switches do. And as I’m about to depart Hyde Park Corner in central London on my way to deepest darkest Oxfordshire I want to ensure I’ve got everything just so before doing battle with the tail end of rush hour. One has several modes to choose from with the hybrid Seven and while I could have asked it to run purely on electric power (Max eDrive) I tend to think it’s probably a little bit more of a real world test to opt for Auto eDrive.
Nevertheless it’s on purely electric power that I waft away from our London rendezvous point and head off out of London along the A4. It’s a slightly odd experience, though, with the Seven being whisper quiet. The only tell tale that you’re under power being found in the dash pod as the speedo needle rises and the rev counter glows with various degrees of blue indicating that battery power is being used while the tacho needle itself stays resolutely on zero. This continues all the way to the outskirts of London when I finally awaken the petrol unit as I boot the big Seven away from the last set of lights before the M4 motorway begins. It’ll pick up its skirts and fly when required, too: 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds should be plenty fast enough for even the most demanding of company chairmen.
Once onto the M4 there’s a chance to play with some of the settings and I discover that I’m not a huge fan of the Super Comfort setting for the suspension as it seems a little too wafty for my liking – the normal Comfort mode does just fine. I’ve now asked the engine to fully recharge the slightly depleted battery (Battery Control mode) as I want to experience eDrive on the motorway and after a few minutes I have a full battery and switch to Max eDrive and, if anything, it’s even odder flying down the M4 with a silent drivetrain. Eventually the engine will kick back in when the batteries are depleted or if you exceed 87mph.
The pre-programmed route in the sat nav is soon advising me to pull off the M4 and I wend my way up towards our destination revelling in the combination of near silent running through the towns to showing surprising speed when both the battery and engine are playing together. The sat nav seems to be suggesting I’m only about ten miles from my destination so I pull off the road to take a few snaps, but mainly because I want to experience the ‘Executive Lounge’ option that’s fitted to this longwheelbase machine. Along with gesture control for the iDrive, the Executive Lounge was one of the other items that seemed to really capture the imagination when the latest Seven was launched. Essentially this option involves the front passenger seat moving forward, dipping its headrest, folding the back rest towards the front of the car and then electrically folding down a footrest for the rear seat passenger and as it’s only come on stream for RHD cars I’d not yet fully tried it out.
Once I was parked-up I donned my best company chairman’s expression and plopped myself into the nearside rear seat and went to work on the buttons. Once I’d tried the massage function, the cooling function and watched a bit of telly I went for the full recline experience and it is slightly surreal to see the passenger seat gently moving away from you and folding itself down before the footrest electrically drops down for you. I have to say it’s remarkably comfortable and I’d be a very chuffed captain of industry indeed if my company car was equipped with this option! Apart from if I was paying for it that is, as the full Executive Lounge comes in at an eyewatering £6675, although there is a diet option at £1750 which just gets you the clever seat. I know which my shareholders would be happier with.
Once I’m back behind the wheel I wend my way towards my destination only to discover that I’d been a bit of a cretin and that the distance to destination shown was actually just a waypoint en route and that I still have another 30 miles to go… and that I’m probably going to be late for lunch. Now, as we all know, captains of industry don’t like to be late for lunch so I delve into the Seven’s full performance envelope and hustle the big bruiser along increasingly small roads. It plays this role very well, although the nigh-on 50mpg I’d managed so far started heading south very quickly indeed.
I did manage to make lunch by the skin of my teeth and reflected upon what has been an enthralling drive. There’s no doubt that the blend of BMW and BMW i technology really does work very well – the shift from battery to internal combustion to battery and internal combustion is utterly seamless.
This might be an overused term but it perfectly describes the feeling when you’re driving the car – and the only clue that it’s happening at all is given by the instrumentation which undergoes subtle changes as the car works between modes.
So, there must be some down sides, no? The first one is that the boot is smaller in the hybrid Seven than in the ‘normal’ car – 420 litres compared to 515 litres in a non-hybrid, but that’s still 25 litres more than you’d get in an S500e S-Class hybrid Mercedes. Then there’s the issue of the claimed 117.7mpg for the xDrive version of the 740Le. Put simply, you’ll never see this sort of economy unless you only ever do journeys of less than around 20 miles and have a charging station at either end of your journey. This isn’t really BMW’s fault, though. It’s the ridiculously old-hat testing procedure that all manufacturers have to put their cars through and BMW will happily admit that in real world conditions your economy will vary wildly. On pure eDrive it reckons you could return circa 188mpg if your journey is less than 20 miles. For a medium distance commuter travelling 30-40 miles to work BMW says the #PHEV-Seven will return between 55-70mpg but for long distance travel – trips over 150 miles – you’ll see 35-40mpg. So whether the 740e makes sense for you will really depend on the sort of driving you do.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the 740e is congestion charge-free and, when compared to a 740Ld xDrive, the 740Le xDrive would save a 40 percent taxpayer a hefty £5000 in benefit in kind. That’s a fair chunk of change in anyone’s book.
With the arrival of the 740e BMW has also brought in a new trim structure for the 7 Series which now sees the introduction of a standard car, a tweak to the Exclusive model line and the M Sport remaining the pinnacle of the range. The standard trim level drops Comfort seats from the rear and the Pure Excellence exterior design package, while the Exclusive model gains Gesture Control, soft-close doors and the aforementioned Pure Excellence exterior kit. The amount of kit you get on this model is pretty impressive and knocks what comes as standard on the (more expensive) Mercedes S-Class 500e into touch by some measure.
Overall I’ve been hugely impressed with the 740Le. I wasn’t exactly a doubting Thomas before I drove the car; it’s probably fair to say I was a little ambivalent but now I’ve got to grips with the car in UK conditions I can see it really would make a lot of sense for some people. If you spend the majority of your time in a major conurbation then it’s just about perfect – wafting along on pure eDrive while the world goes by is a great experience that seems to have a calming effect on you, but if you fly up and down the motorway all day every day then a diesel Seven is still the weapon of choice.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-740Le-xDrive-iPerformance / #2017 / #BMW-740e-iPerformance / #BMW-740e / #BMW-740e-G11 / #BMW-740e-iPerformance-G11 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW / #BMW-740Le-iPerformance-G12 / #BMW-740Le-iPerformance / #BMW-G11 / #BMW-740Le-xDrive-iPerformance-G12 / #BMW-740Le-xDrive-G12 / #BMW-740Le-G12 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW-7-Series-Hybrid / #BMW-7-Series-Hybrid-G12 /
DRIVETRAIN: 2.0-litre turbocharged in-line four petrol with 88kW synchronous electric motor and 7.4kWh lithium-ion battery, eight-speed #Steptronic auto, fourwheel drive
MAX POWER: Petrol: 258hp @ 5000-6500rpm; electric: 113hp @ 3170rpm; combined peak output: 326hp
MAX TORQUE: Petrol: 295lb ft @ 1250-4800rpm; electric: 184lb ft at 0rpm; combined peak output: 369lb ft of torque
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
0-62MPH: 5.4 seconds
CO² EMISSIONS: 54g/km
PRICE UK: 740e iPerformance from £68,330, 740Le #xDrive #iPerformance as tested from £74,880
There’s no doubt that the blend of #BMW and #BMW-i-technology really does work very well.
Once I’d tried the massage function, the cooling function and watched a bit of telly I went for the full recline experience.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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