Once upon a time, as kids, we used to watch a majestic Impala roll into the driveway with an imperial chauffeur at the wheel, and our imperious uncle in the rear. This day and age, he would have chosen the BMW 7-series for its sheer majestic presence. But I have a feeling he would have swapped places with his chauffeur, for this is essentially a driver’s limousine.
UPSIDE: Class-leading cabin gadgetry, Engine options and premium value, Ideal for self-driving, Rear seat comfort with ottoman
FLIPSIDE: Wind noise at high speeds, Driver support often too alert, Pricey among rivals
THE PRICE: AED 482,000 for the 750 Li V8 as tested. (Other prices as photo caption below)
The BMW 7-series should be the driver’s car among the luxury full size sedans. The steering sums up the drive – it is truck-sized, stiff and therefore sharp, with a shade of resistance usually unfamiliar in the category – which is exhilarating in its own way. The mid range acceleration is enormous and leaves behind rivals feeling like mere bystanders. However, the precise and taut steering is better suited to a sporty 335i than the 7-series where one has come to expect silk-smooth handling.
Driver assist features in the 7-series top the category and further support the driver through blind spot warning, front distance warning and intervention, lane change warning and collision warning. But somehow the algorithm of their working beat me at times as I was unable to make a judgment, as the consistency of the reactions was questionable.
The 4.4 L twin turbo engine has a nice V8 warble, but it is inconspicuous at stable speeds. The cabin loses its calm a bit at the hands of high winds at higher velocities. The stability guardian of the car is so stringent that not even 650 Nm of torque pushing a throttle of 440 bhp could upset its wheels to even a whimper; even when the traction control was switched off on Sports + mode.
The BMW 750 Li showed reasonably good fuel efficiency figures for its engine size and body weight of over 2100 kg, aided by the new Auto Start-Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration and the already available Driving Experience Control switch with ECO PRO mode and coasting function.
The BMW 7-series is available in four variants, all mated to the eight-speed automatic transmission. The top edition model is the 760Li with 12 cylinders, a 5972cc displacement, 544 hp and 750 Nm torque available almost across the range. It can touch a 100 km/h on 4.6 seconds. The monster is as rare and as fabled as the Lochness legend!
The BMW 3 series has got its due this season with a revamp that has pushed the hoodline way behind the logo. The 7 series is yet to get a complete revamp but still remains one of the most formidable and elegant designs on road. The design of the current 7-series gives roominess priority over the boot but the longish hood takes away some of the advantage.
Luxury is defined by several exterior modifications, which enhance the car’s sophisticated and elegant appearance. The most eye-catching is the new Adaptive LED headlights featuring hallmark BMW corona rings and a smart accent strip. The mid-cycle refresh gives the BMW 7-series a new front and rear bumper, new kidney grille and turn indicators on the underside of the side mirrors.
Cabin and Controls
In the 750 Li, visibility is sharp for its size but the side view mirrors do need the support of the Blind Spot Monitor to keep your neck from crying for a massage.
The optional Rear Seat Entertainment package comes with a new 9.2-inch flat screen monitor to ensure a refreshing diversion for extended journeys, while the new 1,200-watt Bang & Olufsen high end Surround Sound System delivers unrivalled sound quality. The new 10.25-inch screen behind the steering wheel of the BMW 750 Li uses extended black-panel technology to show engaging display options with colours and graphics that change with the driving mode selected.
The i-drive of the BMW 750 Li in all its ramifications is easily navigable using the movable knob, while the new voice command covers most of the controls. With the new Arabic interface and navigation system, whether it is browsing locations, writing emails or planning a day away from the city, guidance is right next to you, in Arabic or English as you prefer.
Decked up in well-appointed leather and wood, the cabin is one of the most refined even amidst flagship luxury sedans and the seats are quite supportive as well. The only grudge was that the subwoofer unit of the amazing B&O system took away from the boot space in my car. Still, the boot did make space for our “mother of all prams” but that hardly justifies that segmented space that is wasted.
As the first rays of summer crept in with its splendid warmth, my test car lit up a marked absence of sunscreens as well as massage and heater devices. While they might not take much to add up, they ought to have been standard. There is an ottoman and a footrest – a thoughtful gesture that endears the 750 Li to the passenger in an otherwise driver-pleasing sedan.
The essential BMW 750 Li
The steering sums up the BMW 7 series while the ride quality does that for the Lexus LS. The BMW 7-series comes across as a car to be driven rather than one to be driven in. But that’s got to do with the “I drive” character of the 7-series owner itself. I once knew a top diplomat who used to let himself be chauffeur driven in his midsize sedan but would take the reins himself on long drives in his BMW 7-series. Those were the ‘breaks’ he used to look forward to!
Drive Courtesy: BMW Middle East
Pictures: Supplied & Sudeep Koshy