Is quiet comfort redundant? Thrifty performance an oxymoron? Big and agile exclusive? BMW’s long-wheelbase diesel 7 inspires those questions, has luxury’s requisites, and relegates the ActiveHybrid 7 to those who drive a few km per day. (Overall score: 8.1)
From blunt double-kidney prow and angel-eye headlights to rear pillar Hofmeister kink echoed in the taillight tubes, the 740L is classic BMW—no guessing if it’s a sedan or a coupe. Despite the luxurious long-wheelbase proportions it takes well to black trim, deeper bodywork and M-inspired 20-inch wheels, more sleeper than those uber-sedans with flaring nostrils and more pipes than an organ.
Chrome door handle details are nice, but I find the front fender pieces a bit much without the signal repeaters inset. (Score: 8.2)
Vast glass overrides a black headliner so the car feels as spacious as it is. Broad front seats frame your torso while footrests and end-table size armrest keep those in back stable; they have no audible or tactile clues how fast they’re travelling when the dotted line isn’t dotted anymore.
The locking console will cool your charging iPhone 5 (sans case) and hold some gum, but other cabin storage is better than expected. The trunk is too; not as large as some mid-size cars’ but finished nicer than their interiors.
Leather and matte woods and finishes mean only black ceramic controls are shiny—and not large enough for glare concerns. Plastic lower pillar posts seemed out of place, but I’m likely the only one who looks for such things.
Gauges are all digital renderings of BMW analog fare, so now they change colors and styles by drive mode. The cabin might not flow like an A8 dash nor offer S-Class’s heated armrests, but one never feels anything less than pampered. (Score: 7.9)
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The previously-maligned iDrive improves with every generation and my only hiccup here was the multi-dimensional controller. After adjusting by rotation I’d often undo the adjustment inadvertently sliding across the trackpad within to click my choice. Some new-to-BMWowners told me they had iDrive sorted in a couple of weeks, a few more for that trackpad slip.
Big-screen graphics are very crisp and some areas offer traffic data for most major surface streets; that generates plenty of visual clutter zoomed out to find your best alternative. I can’t fault BMW for providing loads of info, just be careful what you wish for.
The head-up display was difficult to see with polarized sunglasses, and the mobile app doesn’t seem as advanced as the rest of the car. (Score: 8.1)
The speed of response stands out. Although diesels aren’t known for it, BMW’s feels quite lively. But this applies everywhere: automatic lights on in a tunnel, a rev-matched downshift even in comfort mode, climate control changes, iDrive confirmations, all the way down to the odometer reset.
Possibly excepting the auto start/stop: It activates the instant the car stops, so unless switched off, every stop sign found me momentarily awaiting the restart. For traffic lights and consumption testing I left if default-on, for rural stops and yields I chose off.
Official figures are pending; I’m guessing 10.2/7.6/8.8. I did 10.3 in town, averaged 7.7 and ran +/- 6.0 on the highway: only the A8L TDI might do better in this league. Half an hour into my first highway leg range was showing 1236 km…Banff anyone? PEI? Disney World?
Deliberate steering is more weighty than feelsome or quick return-to-centre but precise and good at isolating road impact or vibration. Repeated full-effort stops from 100-plus km/h had passengers breathing far harder than the car or brakes.
Although it does 115 km/h on 1,500 revs, the engine willingly pulls past 4,000 smoothly and quietly. The background thrum fades away with speed, or the Bang & Olufsen volume knob. (Score: 8.4)
You rightly expect a lot at this price. The diesel adds $1,500, this lightly-optioned car runs about $117,000. An and Benz’s new gas-V6 short-wheelbase S 400 are similar, and all option exorbitantly. BMW’s problem is the thirstier Active Hybrid 7, which is $13,000 more than this and doesn’t offer M Sport pack or B&O sound that this car had. (Score: 7.7)
It is understated, luxurious, capable and by large car standards a nice driver. I’m left wondering: if this “old” design 7er works so well, what have they planned for the next one?
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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail