Sheer driving pleasure – it’s the boastful motto that BMW has banked on for years. But can a car normally reserved for heads of state, oil tycoons, banking CEOs or an indulgent Uber experience really deliver the alleged sheer pleasure from behind the wheel. Chris Bowen was lucky enough to find out for EFTM.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
I doubt many BMW 7 Series buyers simply lob down to the local dealer and go for a quick test drive. But in the event you are casually looking for a near $250k car on a lazy Saturday morning here’s the rub.
First up this is a substantial piece of metal, aluminium and carbon fibre. The 740i is the short-wheel based model but even so it dwarfs a typical executive saloon.
Jump inside and everything is simply opulent, stirring all the senses. From the smell of the throne-like leather seats, the indulgent feel of every surface you touch to the sheer visual spectacular that unfolds around the cabin, it is way, way above average.
The drive is so easy, so smooth and eerily quiet. Easy, in that despite the large foot print, steering this beast is extremely light and noticeably super assisted. As is the suspension, the system is highly sophisticated with a rear self-levelling air system that cleverly aids body control automatically or at the touch of a button. Think of the 740i as the largest NFL player around, with the finesse and dexterity of a scintillating NRL winger. If you dare you can really chuck this thing around, there are so many systems at play here it almost feels like cheating.
Oh and by the way, plant the foot and you’re off almost as quick as a traditional Aussie V8 sedan with 0-100km/h arriving in an astonishingly non-eventful 5.7 seconds.
Check out Trevor’s quick in-car review with a difference – view in the YouTube app on your phone, or in a Chrome Browser to “look around” this 360 degree video!
Ins And Outs
We don’t have the space to print a Magna Carta length description of what’s jammed into essentially the best BMW has on offer but here are some of the vitals.
Under the beautiful bonnet sits a 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol pumping out 254kW/450Nm matched with an 8-speed automatic with AWD. The list of luxury items is almost never-ending and includes, two different fragrances that can filter through the cabin should you choose, head up display, a TV, brilliant Harman / Kardon surround sound system, surround view reversing camera and adaptive LED headlights. That just scratches the surface, over a week I discovered more and more. The front seats can be adjusted in literally 20 different ways. Simply touching the vast array of unseen buttons down the side of the seat brings up a display indicating if it’s the head rest, lumber support or side bolstering etc.
The climate control panel is a digital representation rather than actual buttons for the most part, there are just so many clever little touches going on.
The Tech Inside
When it comes to technology there’s probably more than you will ever need. Gesture control is the most novel feature. A wave of the hand, pinching thumb and index finger or even a point and rotate signal will answer calls, zoom in on a map or adjust the stereo volume. A sensor in the rear view mirror determines what particular gesture you’re performing.
The headlights, in particular the high beam, are lasers, yup lasers. The high beam can penetrate up to 600 metres down the road, a feature that filtered down from the production and still prototype feeling BMW i8. In conjunction with the LED headlights you literally turn night into day.
The key is in fact a “Display Key”. A number of people actually asked me “What type of phone is that?” It acts like any other keyless smart key aside from a colour screen that displays information relating to the vehicle’s status, such as petrol range, allows owners to pre-condition the climate control system plus operate the headlights. Overseas you can also use it to reverse the car remotely out of a tight space or garage.
For the millionaire in the back a Samsung 7.5 inch tablet is embedded in the central armrest. Enabling passengers to operate a range of functions in the vehicle, including climate control, multimedia and sunblinds. An excessively hot day did cause the tablet to turn off, I’d suggest leaving the armrest up because like an iPhone it can’t handle the heat!
This car looks like it should weigh well over two tonne but thanks to a carbon core pioneered in the i8 and i3 which we’ve looked at before it’s a relative lightweight. The passenger cell is essentially a plastic tub, reinforced to be massively strong. This and other measures see the 740i tip the scales at a modest 1850kg.
Currently more than ever before there’s plenty of chatter about autonomous driving. The 740i is part of the incremental march towards complete hands off the wheel, while reading the paper driving. But not at the same slightly scary levels Tesla has introduced.
There’s the now pretty standard active cruise control but the steering and lane control assistant is more noteworthy. You merely only need to apply feather light pressure to the steering wheel while the big Beamer guides itself down a freeway.
— EFTM (@EFTM) January 31, 2016
What’s known as the ‘crossing-traffic warning’ uses cameras to detect oncoming cross traffic, and is able to bring the vehicle to a stop upon identifying a potential risk. Finally ‘pedestrian warning’ uses sensors to recognise a potential incident and primes the brakes to optimise stopping time and distance.
You can really sense there is a vast array of computer driven brainpower at play to keep you safe. But unlike the efforts of Tesla this is still a highly engaging and most importantly still an entirely human driven car.
The Hip Pocket
Prices for the 740i start from $224,200. As tested our vehicle blew out to $244,900. With options a plenty including 20″ BMW light alloy wheels W-spoke 646 run-flat safety tyres $2000, tyre pressure monitor $700, Executive Drive Pro $5500, interior trim, fine wood poplar grey (NCO), Ambient Air Package $800, Ceramic surround for controls $1100, Massage function for driver and front passenger $2000, BMW Laserlight $5100 and TV function $2,800.
At the pump the claimed figure is 7.9L/100km, I managed 10.0L/100km and service intervals are 12 months / 15000km. Warranty sits at 3 years/unlimited km.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp
I’ve driven the Rolls Royce Ghost, a car that shares many components and underlining structure found in the current BMW 7 Series. Although that car is massively more lavish and substantially grander it does drive in a very similar way. That is with mind boggling refinement and pure class. But the BMW 740i is exactly what people with this kind of cash and mindset want, understated but with still skilfully executed brilliance. It’s as good from behind the wheel as it is sitting in the rear. If I was filthy, dirty rich I’d have one in my driveway – next to the roundabout, fountain and helipad. I award the BMW 740i the EFTM Distinction Rubber Stamp of Approval.