Two Weeks With The Green Limo
It sits at the top of the BMW tree, sure there’s the i8 but when it comes to a pioneering marvel the BMW 7 series wins hands down. So many world firsts debuted on this car along with its rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The generation one car featured BMW’s first on board computer and airbags, today gesture control is another precedent set. The flagship has always been powered by petrol and from the mid-nineties diesel. In more recent times electricity helps to propel the beast along. Chris Bowen spent two weeks in the plug-in hybrid variant, the 740e.
First up the usual 3.0-litre inline turbo-six-cylinder petrol unit has been ditched for a turbo 2.0-litre turbo-four-cylinder hooked up to an electric engine. Don’t underestimate what seems like lunacy, the combo pumps out 240kW and even more torque at 500Nm. If you’re interested in breaking down the figures the petrol engine contributes 190kW / 400Nm while the electric motor tips in the extra 83kW / 250Nm. This is a very quick 8-speed mothership that’s marginally quicker than its petrol donor car.
After jumping inside the 740i early last year I was expecting more of the same. That sameness means spades of opulence and an ability to stir the senses. In fact, having one for an entire two-week period really gave me a reality slap, it’s easy when doing this gig to lose perspective. The car simply makes you feel like a king, a king that likes to drive himself.
The cabin is so well insulated that if it wasn’t for the unique iPerformance instrument cluster and eDrive graphics you’d be flat out knowing when the battery is providing the momentum or the petrol engine has kicked in. It just floats along in a very pillowy way. The automatic self-levelling air suspension dispatches just about all surfaces with ridiculous ease. Even on dirt this thing just seems oblivious to the real world conditions. I’d say with my Rolls Royce experiences in mind the ride is basically the same, plus a bucket load cheaper.
The usual driving modes are there to suit your mood. There are two comfort modes, “Comfort” and “Comfort Plus” the latter dead set makes the car feel like it’s floating. In fact, the comfort modes are clearly more aimed at providing those in the back with the ultimate, hushed ride to and from the office. As a driver, they turn the limo into a slightly annoying woolly experience, especially around town. But flick into “Sports” mode and it’s goodbye flying magic carpet, hello excitement machine.
Read more: EFTM