A FLAGSHIP LUXURY SEDAN, LIKE THE 2016 BMW 7 SERIES, CAN BE THE MARK AGAINST WHICH A CARMAKER'S ENTIRE RANGE IS JUDGED.
So, for style, technology and luxury, it's important to get it right. And not just for high-end buyers, but to cast the right glow over the rest of the brand.
In the case of BMW's 740i, there’s more technology than ever before governing the driving, interior, entertainment, and more. It sets a new high-point in luxury for the marque, elevating the 740i above any 7 Series before it, even in its standard trim.
Vehicle Style: Upper-large luxury sedan
Price: $224,200 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 240kW/450Nm 3.0 6cyl turbo petrol | 8spd automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.0 l/100km | tested: 9.9 l/100km
While the price of the new BMW 740i may have risen over the outgoing generation, so has the standard equipment list. Filled with 'the lot', BMW’s big sedan is a supremely luxurious saloon.
Whisper quiet inside, with a fastidiously trimmed cabin and an imposing stance backed by a smooth and powerful drivetrain, the 740i meets the brief for executive travel.
BMW Australia has specified the new 7 Series - even the entry model - with more standard equipment than any other market in the world. The challenges of this market segment are not being taken lightly and a week behind the wheel of the new 740i proves that fact.
- Standard equipment: Nappa leather upholstery, power adjustable multi-contour front seats with heating and cooling, rear and rear side sunblinds, soft-close doors and boot lid, configurable ambient lighting, auto lights and wipers, proximity key with pushbutton start, Display Key, adaptive LED headlights, four-zone climate control, powered sunroof, colour head up display, active cruise control and speed limiter
- Infotainment: 10.2-inch touchscreen, iDrive control, Gesture Control, DAB+ digital radio, 20GB media storage, rear 7.0-inch tablet, 16 speaker Harman Kardon audio
- Options fitted: Front seats with massage function, Laserlight headlights, M Sport appearance package
- Cargo volume: 515 litres
This isn’t an interior that’s merely 'built' – it’s crafted with a premium opulence.
Of course, at a glance the 740i looks familiar to anyone who has spent time in a late model BMW – there’s the same horizontally oriented design theme, familiar button groupings, and other range-wide themes.
But every single aspect has been reinvented, and oozes quality - from the metal-finished buttons, the leather-backed gear selector, to the touch-sensitive controls for climate and drive mode.
With Nappa leather seating, embellished with a perforated and quilted finish, the 740i defines modern luxury – and that finish is standard, no option-box to tick.
The biggest change to the interior comes via the way front-seat passengers interact with the infotainment system.
The familiar iDrive rotary controller remains in place on the centre console, complete with handwriting input.
It’s now also joined by gesture control for the 10.2-inch touchscreen display.
Spin your finger in the air to adjust volume, pinch and grab to change your 360-degree view from the park cameras, or set your favorite function for the two-finger poke. The system works cleanly over a wide area above the centre console so there’s absolutely no need to take your eyes off the road.
As for rear-seat passengers, folding down the centre armrest reveals a 7.0-inch Samsung tablet that can be used to alter climate, seats, interior lighting, view destination progress, search the internet and more. It can be removed and passed between occupants, and locks away when not in use.
Yet again – that’s a standard feature, not an option. For interior presentation, quality, and specification, the 740i has its closest competitors licked, even with the price rise for the new model.
While cabin space is generous in almost every direction, the short wheelbase 740i could do with a touch more legroom (but then there's the longer-wheelbase 740Li). Seat comfort however is fantastic, with soft leather coverings and inviting cushioning taking the pain out of the longest hauls.
The 515 litre boot, with hands-free opening function, will swallow plenty of luggage, or four sets of golf clubs with ease. The rear seat backrests are fixed, but a load-through function lets you pass longer items into the cabin.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 240kW/450Nm 3.0 in-line six-cylinder turbo petrol
- Transmission: Eight speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Suspension: Front and rear adaptive air suspension type, double wishbone front axle
- Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes
- Steering: Electric power steering
Under the bonnet of the 740i is a new generation six-cylinder engine featuring BMW’s twin-scroll turbocharging technology. You’ll find the same engine in the recently introduced 340i, but the two vehicles are like chalk and cheese in the way they drive.
With peak power of 240kW at 6500rpm and maximum torque of 450Nm from 1380 to 5000rpm, the 740i is well-equipped to handle its 1725 kerb weight.
Smooth power delivery and a strong torque-push mean the 740i is able to amble around city streets effortlessly, while the buttery eight-speed auto changes gears imperceptibly. But it will also snort and bolt if given its head into a line of freeway traffic or on a country run.
As for that (relatively) low weight given the 7 Series' size, thank BMW’s weight-saving Carbon Core construction, which replaces key chassis components with lighter carbon-fibre using construction methods borrowed from the i3 and i8.
Fine attention to detail means that noise-paths have been reduced giving the 740i an eerily silent idle.
For urban driving the rise and fall of the tacho is the only real indicator that there’s much going on beneath the bonnet - it is as smooth and quiet as you’ll find.
BMW’s range of drive modes include the expected Comfort and EcoPro, along with a new Comfort Plus setting, plus a Sport and Sport Individual setting - suspension, steering, and engine responsiveness are adjusted accordingly.
By the seat of our pants we couldn’t pick much difference between the two comfort settings - both are sublimely comfortable, and Sport isn’t relentlessly 'sporty' - a little firmer and controlled through the bends, but the standard air-suspension never becomes unpleasant.
Regardless of the drive mode, the big BMW is still a BMW at heart.
Find a stretch of winding road and you’ll also find a beautifully connected steering feel and superbly measured road-holding that you may not expect of such a large sedan. Even when giving things a bit of a squirt, lateral movement and weight transfer is tightly controlled.
All the while passengers will be contained in smooth riding and hushed comfort. Rough roads are smoothed, outside interruptions are filtered, and the 7 Series is unflappable.
Practicality is well catered for too, with the air suspension automatically raising at low speeds to accommodate lipped driveway entrances and blot out speed humps.
ANCAP rating: The 7 Series is yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Six airbags, front active head restraints, force limiting three-point seatbelts in all seats, with front pretensioners, Active Protection which closes the windows and sunroof, and adjusts the passenger seats if it detects an imminent crash, Traction and stability control, 360-degree camera.
Driver assistance technology includes active park distance control, lane change and lane departure warning, steering and lane control assistant, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection with light city braking, active cruise control with stop and go function, rear collision prevention, front and rear cross traffic alert.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The benchmark in this class is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the imposing and immensely capable and appealing current-generation is clearly the prime target for the new 7 Series. Jaguar’s XJ also puts a sporty slant on the big limo formula - it is underestimated by buyers but is a beautiful and capable saloon.
Audi’s A8 isn’t short on comfort, but the button-heavy interior is showing its age, while the even older Lexus LS offers decent value, but trails the others for technology and features.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s the fine details in the new 7 Series that make all the difference - no detail has escaped BMW’s attention. In fact the only thing we could possibly fault was the lack of illumination for the driver’s glovebox, a tiny concern in the grand scheme of things.
The fit and finish, both inside and out, is first-rate. Add a truly sumptuous interior, cutting-edge technologies and user interface, and the new 7 Series becomes the benchmark for the class.
It is missing nothing of the classic BMW ‘driver’s car’ feel, yet at the same time offers nothing but the utmost in comfort for occupants, both front and rear.
The new 7 Series is a worthy flagship for a BMW range of over-achievers.
MORE: BMW News and Reviews
VISIT THE SHOWROOM: BMW 740i Showroom, all models, prices, and features