A TWIN-TURBOCHARGED SIX-CYLINDER ENGINE DELIVERING 240KW AND 450NM AND RIDICULOUS REFINEMENT, THAT’S THE NEW BMW 740Li.
And such is its power and refinement, that it absolutely challenges the “silky-smooth and powerful V8” epithet which so often accompanies luxury limousines.
Finally joining BMW’s range-topping model range, the 740Li offers the glorious interior we love in the stretched 7-Series. It embodies all of the astonishing luxury and technology which underscores the ‘7’ badge, but undercuts the price of the V8-powered 750Li by a not-insignificant $74,700.
It is also more fuel-efficient to the tune of 1.1 l/100kms (combined-cycle).
So, yes, for buyers in this rarified segment, let’s just say the BMW 740Li – and that twin-turbo six it is packing – is a ‘thought-provoker’.
Vehicle Style: Prestige Large Sedan
Price: $237,955 (plus on-roads) $286,305 (as tested)
Engine/trans: 240kW/450Nm 3.0-litre 6cyl turbo petrol | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.0 l/100kms | Tested: 8.9 l/100kms
As we know, the 7 Series is a luxury/technology phenomenon highlighted by its strong, lightweight ‘Carbon Core’ passenger cell (part of an astonishing mix of cutting-edge exotic materials and production processes).
Priced at $237,955, the 740Li sits more-or-less in the middle of the BMW 7 Series range which starts at $217,500 (730d) and tops at $312,700 (750Li V8).
Our test car was fitted with some items from the ‘BMW Individual’ range - $48,350 worth of extras in fact (ranging from $350 for Alcantara headliner to $9,900 for a Bowers and Wilkins audio system and $10,200 for the full leather ‘Tartufo’ upholstery) which lifted the sticker to…ouch!... $286,305.
- Standard Features: Variable ambient lighting, Surround View camera system, active cruise control, lane keeping assist, glass sunroof, heated front seats
- Infotainment: 16-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Bluetooth compatible with DAB+ radio and AUX-in, satellite navigation
- Boot Volume: 515 litres (standard specification)
Certainly, as you might discern from our photos, that full leather ‘Tartufo’ is gorgeous. The differences between the $9.9k Bowers and Wilkins audio set-up and the standard Harman/Kardon surround sound system might, however, be more difficult to discern.
But, of course, the ‘big ticket’ items capturing headlines inside the BMW 7 Series are BMW Gesture Control to drive the infotainment system and the removable seven-inch tablet in the rear centre armrest (so that those seated aft can operate their climate control, infotainment and communications functions).
But, spoiler alert, your TMR correspondent has sampled a couple of BMWs with 'Gesture Control’ and is yet to be convinced it’s anything more than a gimmick
As the name implies, BMW Gesture Control operates some elements of the infotainment system via gestures detected by sensors under the rear-vision mirror (make a ‘windmill' movement with your index finger - clockwise or anti-clockwise - to adjust the volume for example).
Just like our previous encounter we couldn’t get gesture control to work seamlessly much of the time so we ask: is it really so difficult to twist a knob or slide a slider to change radio stations or adjust volume?
On the other hand, our 'assistants' who sampled the rear seat of the BMW 740Li certainly endorsed the removable tablet device in the centre armrest – beautiful graphics and impressive functionality (if you don’t mind your radio station being changed by those behind!).
Oh, and there was an optional compact fridge located between the rear seats too (it costs $3000 and its mechanicals reduce luggage capacity by a fair degree). Designed for bottles, and, unlike ‘chillable’ gloveboxes it certainly does provide adequate chill for (say) French Champagne, Red Bull, and... (you get the picture. What do the "moneyed set" sip in their rear seats these days?)
Then there is the BMW Display Key which features an LCD onto which is transmitted handy information like how far to your destination, have you locked the car (we did, on one occasion, actually forget to lock our $286K 740Li…and the key reminded us).
It also allows you to crank-up the climate control to the desired temperature before you arrive back to the car.
Like your mobile phone and laptop, the Display Key needs charging each night (but if you do forget, it just operates like a normal car key).
Up-front the driver gets the usual beautiful BMW three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel (rake/reach adjustment), copious electronic seat adjustment (including under-thigh support) and the new BMW Head-Up Display with a projection surface 75 per-cent larger than previous generations. So the driving environment is top-shelf.
Atop the centre stack is the 12.3-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system which can now operate four ways – gesture control, voice control, touchscreen or the usual iDrive rotary dial (with a touchpad).
And, apart from that tablet, those in the rear also enjoy massive legroom. No question, this is the ‘on-ground’ transport for the First Class crowd.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 240kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder
- Transmission: Eight speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Suspension: Double wishbone front/multi-link rear, air suspension with adjustable dampers
- Brakes: Four wheel discs (fronts ventilated)
- Steering: Electrical
Does the turbocharged six-cylinder have a negative impact on the driving dynamics? Much as we love the V8-powered BMW 750, after a week in the 740Li our conclusion is: "not really".
In everyday driving, the difference between 240kW/450Nm and 330kW/650Nm and 5.6 seconds zero to 100km/h compared to 4.7 seconds, is hardly earth-shattering.
And, equally, there are no discernible set-backs in mechanical refinement.
If you want to drift into minutia, yes, sometimes the twin-turbo V8 does give you that slight extra punch in mid-range (overtaking and freeway merging acceleration) and initially you might miss the hallmark V8 rumble under full acceleration.
But BMW has imbued the 740Li with a commendable exhaust note of its own – a real growl from the straight-six when you mash the pedal to the firewall.
When the road gets twisty you will certainly appreciate the ‘Carbon Core’ chassis. Lighter weight means sharper driving dynamics and the 740Li is every bit as polished as the 750 and possibly a tad more precise in its responses.
‘Executive Drive Pro’ (a $5,500 option fitted to our test car and bringing dynamic electromechanical anti-roll bars) plus constantly variable dampers and massive 20-inch light alloy wheels have something to say there too.
Bring all that together, put all that technology into one delicous 'whole', and the 740Li is beautifully balanced and responsive and simply rides on winged heels when you crack the whip.
And you don’t need to be concerned that it might be ‘M Sport’ brittle, or overly stiff down below. Far, far from it in fact. Whatever dynamic setting you choose, the 740Li feels the luxury express and never loses its compliance and comfort.
Its brilliance is that it so comprehensively manages to be both a car for the driver, and for the passenger.
ANCAP Rating: Not tested by ANCAP
Safety Features: Active headrests, eight airbags, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with cornering brake control and brake assist
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Capped-price servicing via BMW Service Inclusive covers scheduled servicing costs for five years/80,000kmswhichever comes first.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Of the expected rivals only Mercedes-Benz offers a six-cylinder petrol model. That would be the S400L equipped with the 245kW/480Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6.
Like the 7 Series, the S-Class is world’s best and awesome in every department. For what it’s worth the S400L is marginally faster than the 740Li but isn’t quite as fuel-efficient.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
To cut to the chase here, unless you're inescapably tied to the performance and exhaust note of a V8, the 740Li shapes-up as the best all-rounder in the 7 Series lineup.
The turbo six is stunning enough, but BMW has the 740Li brilliantly set-up for its purpose – the rear seat ambience and technology, the suppleness of the suspension, the sumptuous refinement and the top-shelf driving dynamics… it’s all there.
It offers a huge saving at purchase over the equivalent 750Li V8 - $74,700 no less. And, though fuel consumption savings of 1.1 l/100kms are not alone going to save the planet, your green-leaning friends will at least concede you’ve taken a step in the right direction.
Sure, there is a lot to ponder when considering the options list which complicates direct value comparisons across rivals – but perhaps buyers in this league are not really fazed by the bucks being asked here.
We think this thumping six, and the performance and refinement it offers, is in a class of its own.
(And, to paraphrase George Costanza, “Not that there is anything wrong with the V8…”)