Whether you think the design feature complements the car or not, BMW AG has signed off on it, and that’s that until we see how the Munich car maker pens the next 7 Series.
The top BMW model is available locally in two variants: the 730Li and 740Li. The 730Li is priced at RM698,800, while the 740Li comes in at RM888,800 (on-the-road, without insurance).
All 7 Series sold locally are the G12 type, which is BMW code for the long wheelbase variety as opposed to the G11 standard wheelbase car. To celebrate the company’s centennial this year, BMW has knocked RM100K off the price tag.
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We took the 730Li some time back. On the face of it, the overall design is evolutionary rather than ground-breaking. But underneath, there has been a whole lot of changes going on.
You would expect the flagship model to pack at least 6-cylinder, V8 or V12 engines, which the 7 Series offers in its arsenal. But engine technology has vastly improved over the years. These days, big BMWs also come in 2.0-litre 4-cylinder format that manifest itself in the 730Li and 740Le.
It’s all part of a grand scheme to make car makers produce cleaner engines. And when it comes to BMW’s turbocharged 2.0-litre mill, the output it delivers is more than adequate for the task at hand.
In addition, there’s a fair bit of innovative machinery at work under the skin.
Like the BMW i8, the latest 7 Series has a radically strengthened and lightened chassis called “Carbon Core”, making it over 100kg lighter than the previous 7 Series. There’s also aluminium, high-strength steel and magnesium in the mix.
The car is based on the RWD architecture called CLAR (cluster architecture) that is also being used for the 6, 5, and 3 Series as well as the X series of SUVs.
It uses carbon fibre, or rather carbon fibre reinforced plastic, to reduce weight and increase torsional rigidity. Audi happens to agree with BMW and will be using the same material as well for its next A8 flagship.
With the generational change, the latest 7 Series has grown a little longer (+19mm), making it the largest series-produced car BMW has ever built. Its other dimensions remain the same.
Standard gear includes an eight-speed Steptronic transmission, and 19-inch light alloy wheels.
For the first time, the kidney grill has air flaps that automatically opens when there is an increased cooling air requirement and will remain closed the rest of the time, for better aerodynamics.
The hockey stick-like feature is part of BMW’s move to express sporty elegance as well as EfficientDynamics in the 7 Series. The part angling up is actually an air breather, an element introduced in the 4 Series, that reduces air currents in the front wheel housings for improved aerodynamics,leading to better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.
The 730Li gets full LED headlights, air suspension and gesture control
The rear is also matched with LED tail lampsand are bookmarked by horizontal chrome surrounds that serve to highlight the lamps and dual exhaust pipe housing.
For that extra bit of premium touch, the new 7 Series has a welcome feature that illuminate the ground with shell-like strips of light.
There’s much more to say of the cabin. In typical BMW fashion, the dashboard is clean and minimal with settings adjustable from the upgraded iDrive controller and gesture controlare for basic commands such as changing the stereo volume or accepting/rejecting a phone call.
Unlike in the old 7, the 10.25-inch centre infotainment display of the new model is touchscreen that is a standalone device jutting up. Meter clusters are fully digital but the benchmark is still the Mercedes-Benz S-Class whose extra wide dual digital screens arefar more impressive.
While front seats are fine and comfortable to be in, it’s the rear passengers that get pampered in this case, After all, the 7 Series is a limo, and that’s what limos do.
The sixth-generation730Li doesn’t stinge on luxurious comfort, offering 4-zone climate control and electrically adjustable comfort rear seats with a massage function which includes the Vitality Programme.
According to BMW, the programme offers rear-seat passengers a range of features to increase their physical well-being. Eight different exercise programmes are available to work the muscles of the back and shoulders. The interactive body training is displayed on the rear-seat entertainment monitor, while sensors integrated into the rear seats give feedback to ensure the exercises are performed correctly.
We see this passive exercise as of limited benefit at best and more of an attempt by BMW to pad up the lux credentials in the flagship model. Fact is there’s nothing better than a hearty workout in the park or the gym if you are really talkin’ healthy pursuits – even if it’s just walking 5,000 steps every weekend with pedometer in hand.
As it stands, such “vitality package”appears to be the in thing for cars in this segment.
In the rear, the two outboard seats of the 7 Series have extra-soft pillow-like headrests for enhanced comfort. As is before, the best seat is reserved for the rear left passenger who can slide the front passenger seat further upfront electrically for the best space in the cabin that is akin to an executive lounge.
BMW Touch Command control unit located in the rear centre console is another innovation for the luxury class.
As the first removable 7-inch tablet (from Samsung) that is connected to the vehicle systems, passengers are able to access all comfort and entertainment functions.
However, the 730Li doesn’t have the panoramic LED glass roof known as Sky Lounge, which is reserved for the 740Li. The Sky Lounge is a fancy ceiling effect that emulates the starry night sky, and is adapted from the Starlight Headliner in the BMW-owned Rolls Royce. It’s an LED-based lighting installation comprising over 15,000 light spots in the glass of the panoramic roof.
At 515l, there’s ample boot space to store luggage and the bags of occasional indulgence from Louis Vuitton.
With the new 7 Series, you get not one but two keys. While one is the familiar key fob, the other is a so-called display key with a 2.2-inch touchscreen that shows the status of the car such as service prompts, date & time and climate control; it also allows the owner to check on fuel level, door lock and windows status.
We were told by BMW Malaysia that the remote controlled parking feature was disabled probably – as is often the case – the laws haven’t quite caught up with the technological pace.
Safety-wise, the 7 Series is up there with the best of them offering an array of passive and active safety features to keep occupants out of harm’s way. They include steering and directional control assistant, a Lane Departure Warning Assistant with active side collision protection which detects vehicles in neighbouring lanes, rear collision prevention and cross-traffic warning at the front.
How it drives
For the most part, the 730Li drives as a top-shelf model model is expected to, with luxurious sophistication, quiet refinements and all the trappings that the new 7 Series has bequeathed it.
This is the first time BMW has dropped a 2.0-litre engine under a 7 Series bonnet and it is entirely justified as it proves itself up to the task of hauling such a big car in all its Carbon Core goodness.
With 258hp and 400Nm on tap from 1,550rpm, the 730Li performed remarkably for a limo with a small engine, underscored by a sprightly 0-100kph dash in 6.3s. The Steptronic transmission does well to harness the output across the engine speeds with fluid power transfer to the rear axle.
Both axles get air suspension with active damping, delivering the ability to vary the ratio of comfort to sporty bias as the need arises. At speeds of 120kph and above, the car is lowered by 10mm to enhance aerodynamics whereas ground clearance can be increased by 20mm at speeds up to 35kph.
With user-adjustable drive modes onboard, the ride can be set for various degrees of comfort and sporty settings. The differences between Comfort and Sport modes are palpable, with the former offering a cushy but floaty experience while the latter stiffens and sharpens things up nicely with a lowered ride height for an involving drive.
So, chauffeured-driven or self-driving? Your choice. The 730Li caters for both occasions without exceptions.
Looking past the present offerings, BMW Malaysia is eager to roll out a plug-in hybrid version by the first half of 2017 as electrification of cars gain momentum.
The hybrid may become the third variant for the local market or replace the 730Li and 740Li entirely as the fuel efficiency leader meshes the benefits of small engine/electric motor with the best of BMW innovations and luxury.
The 7 Series is backed by a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, free scheduled service programme and BMW tyre warranty. Expect to pay around RM7,000 monthly under the BMW balloon financing scheme. The fully imported 730Li is available in 5 colours: Black Sapphire, Cashmere Silver, Mineral White, Sophisto Grey and Jatoba. The range of Leather Dakota upholstery colour choices include Black, Canberra Beige and Cognac.