2011 BMW 740i REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large luxury sedan
Price: $205,700 ($213,120 as-tested)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 9.9 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 13.1 l/100km
BMW’s 740i costs a bomb, like two hundred thousand plus. It is however one of the entry points to the German marque’s flagship 7 Series range (the other being the slightly cheaper diesel-powered 730d).
It’s not cheap - welcome to the world of premium motoring - but it’s a pleasure to drive and sports an impressive array of technology on its spec sheet.
Quality: Exceptional, as you’d expect from any in BMW’s flagship limousine range. Build quality is flawless and trim quality is just as good.
Seats and armrests are trimmed in sumptuous finely-textured Dakota leather upholstery. Tight as a vault, there is also a feel of durable solidity throughout.
Comfort: The power-adjustable front seats are both heated and ventilated, with an impressive range of adjustment. The steering column is adjustable for both rake and reach; drivers of all sizes should have no trouble getting comfortable in this cockpit.
BMW’s approach to dashboard design may seem a little button-heavy at first, but the layout is logical. HVAC controls sit near the bottom of the stack beneath the radio/multifunction preset buttons, and each button is clearly labelled.
BMW’s iDrive controller sits on the centre console next to the gear selector, and is within easy reach of the driver.
Rear seat passengers are treated to their own climate-control console, which dispenses air via vents on the centre console, under the front seats and on the B-pillars.
The back seat is wide enough for three adults, but intrusion from the transmission tunnel means the middle seat is not ideal. Two adults though can slump in the back in enormous comfort, with plentiful leg, knee, shoulder and head room.
Equipment: Standard equipment on the 740i includes a proximity key with push-button starter, dusk-sensing adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, a head-up display, auto-dimming (and heated) rear view mirrors, soft-close doors, heated and ventilated front seats, a glass sunroof and 18inch alloy wheels.
There’s a premium audio system (whose six-DVD stacker is cleverly hidden behind a retractable panel in the dashboard) which incorporates USB and auxilliary inputs, a TV tuner, and Bluetooth functionality.
Sat-nav is standard; the 10.2-inch LCD screen also displays the rear-view camera.
Options fitted to our tester included 19-inch alloys, BMW’s sophisticated Surround View camera system and Bluetooth audio streaming integration.
Storage: The boot measures in at 500 litres, however the rear seatbacks don’t fold forward nor is there a ski port for carrying longer objects.
Inside the cabin there’s myriad storage options, from the ample centre console bin, to the capacious rear-seat armrest and large storage bins in the doors.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The 740i’s turbocharged six-cylinder engine produces 240kW and 450Nm, the latter of which is available from just 1500rpm. Coupled with BMW’s silky-smooth eight-speed automatic, the 740i glides away from traffic lights with ease - and surprising speed.
Despite weighing nearly two tonnes with a single passenger aboard, the 740i is capable of hitting 100km/h from standstill in just 5.9 seconds.
The ‘Dynamic Driving Control’ offers Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes, and modifies transmission mapping, throttle response and damper settings.
Comfort mode feels almost too soft and sluggish, while the increased urgency in Sport and Sport+ modes doesn’t feel appropriate for a luxurious cruiser like the 7 Series. In our opinion, for everyday cruising, the engine and transmission mapping works best when kept in Normal mode.
Refinement: The cabin is serenely and supremely quiet; wind noise is well isolated, and nothing in the 740i’s cabin rattled or squeaked. Road-roar from the run-flat tyres intrudes just barely on only coarsest of coarse-chip roads.
Suspension: In Comfort mode, the suspension feels floaty and soft - nice for dealing with particularly choppy pavement or on highways, but somewhat boat-like elsewhere.
Sport mode firms up the ride noticeably and the big sedan is capable of cornering quite handily, but - as with the engine and transmission - Normal mode is the most appropriate setting for general driving.
Braking: It’s a heavy car, and it feels it under hard braking. That said, the massive brakes never failed to pull up the 740i smartly, and we had no complaints with pedal feel.
ANCAP rating: Not tested
Safety features: Standard safety kit includes stability control, dynamic traction control (switchable), ABS, EBD and brake assist.
Front, front side and full-length curtain airbags are standard, although rear side and front knee airbags are conspicuously absent.
Front passengers are also protected by anti-whiplash headrests and pre-tensioning seatbelts.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three-years/unlimited kilometres
Service costs: Servicing costs vary according to vehicle usage.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Lexus LS 460 Sports ($191,164) - The entry-level model in Lexus’ own limousine range is getting a bit long in the tooth, and its interior and exterior are now a little dated.
However, it packs a powerful V8 engine, cossets its passengers with incredible ride refinement and cabin isolation, and sports an impressive array of comfort-gadgets as standard. (see LS reviews)
Audi A8 3.0 TDI Quattro ($188,000) - Audi’s new A8 is an impressive value buy in the high-end sedan segment and boasts a grunty turbodiesel V6 and refined eight-speed auto, but expensive options can see its price advantage erode quickly. (see A8 reviews)
Jaguar XJ Premium Luxury diesel ($198,800) - Its styling may be a radical departure from XJs of old, but that typical Jaguar charm is still present in the latest XJ.
Its twin-turbocharged 3.0 litre diesel V6 has class-leading torque (600Nm) and the XJ is a very solid drive. Not as tech-rich as some of its competitors, the XJ instead makes up for it with character-filled styling and a classy interior. (see XJ reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The BMW 740i is a fine car and impressively well-equipped.
That said, you can’t help but feel that certain options - like the Surround View cameras, rear heated seats, Bluetooth audio integration - should be standard fare on a car with this sticker price.
If we were spending our money, we would perhaps prefer to find these options as standard over the multi-mode Dynamic Driving Control (which is perhaps unnecessary in a limousine).
There is a plush fastidiousness about the 740i and it drives like a BMW should. Perhaps however it leans more to driver engagement than some of its softer, more-cosseting competitors; that’s its point of difference and where your choice lies.