31 Oct 2017 | 02.29 pm
Roadtest: BMW 740Le xDrive
Exceptionally hushed and soothing in electric mode
31 Oct 2017 | 02.29 pm
The BMW 740Le xDrive is the ultimate luxury limousine. Mark Gallivan finds out how it drives in electric mode
The German car industry is in turmoil over dieselgate and the general souring of official sentiment towards motorists’ preferred fuel. BMW is one of the German manufacturers now offering customer incentives to trade-in existing diesel engine cars for cleaner petrol and hybrid vehicles. Discounts of a couple of grand may not be top of mind for people mulling BMW’s premium flagship hybrid saloon, the 740Le xDrive M Sport.
Starting at €116,300, the test car was so laden with extras it pushed the list price up to €146,469. Introduced two years ago, the 7-series is now facing stern competition from Audi’s freshly unveiled Mk4 A8 and the perennial best-in-class and just-revised Mercedes S-Class.
The 7-Series range starts at €90,920 in Ireland and comes in standard wheelbase, long wheelbase, petrol or diesel engines. The 740Le xDrive is powered by a 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol engine with a plug-in hybrid electric motor attracting €170 road tax. In the model tested, BMW promises a range of 37 miles in pure electric mode. However, in Dublin’s urban crawl, the car only achieved a range of 26 miles.
The sixth generation 7-Series has a carbon chassis and is, for the moment anyway, the best handling full-size limousine on sale for the affluent driver. The car’s agility and ultra-smooth ride impressively lulls you into believing this 5.2 metre, two-tonne car is something far smaller.
While the driving dynamics impress, the 2.0-litre petrol engine remains four cylinders and lacks the expected premium luxury car’s six-cylinder lexicon – creamy smoothness. The four-cylinder engine sounded harsh when accelerating or overtaking, and had to be worked hard for maximum effect. If you forget to charge the car and drive it in just petrol mode, the claimed 2.5L/100km (113mpg) plummets to the 8.1L/100km (35mpg) as achieved on this test.
That said, when fully charged in full electric mode, the 740Le xDrive is exceptionally hushed and soothing. For the company car owner, we’d recommend the 7-Series diesel engine as the best choice, as it’s cheaper, has six-cylinders and offers more torque.
The long wheelbase provides as much rear legroom as an airline passenger expects in business class. Seated in the supremely comfortable rear seats with privacy blinds raised in the rear doors and window (pictured above), passengers can control infotainment, massage seats, ambient lighting and climate functions from a tablet located in the central console.
Apart from BMW’s ‘gesture control’ gimmickry, where you rotate your hands inches from rotary controls to remotely adjust audio volumes or sweep your hand away to cancel an incoming call, this is a technology geek’s dream drive.
Overall, this car is a very special place in which to spend time. Only a Mercedes S-Class pips the 7-Series for outright separation from the outside world. You’ll need to step up to a Rolls Royce Phantom or Bentley Mulsanne to find something superior.
The 740le xDrive M Sport is a curiosity in the 7-Series range, but in full electric mode the outstandingly smooth suspension with an utterly silent electric surge makes it an immensely soothing car in which to ponder life.
Model 2017 BMW 740Le xDrive M Sport Saloon
Engine 1998cc Petrol, 326bhp (petrol with Hybrid mode), 0-100 km/h 5.3 Seconds, top speed 249 km/h, CO2 56g/km
Verdict Best driver’s limousine with accessible hybrid tech.