The new 7-series is a car one always looks forward to driving. The luxury limousine is the archetypal think-of-errands-to-drive-it type of car, thanks to its powerful engines and sensational comfort. A while ago BMW announced the plug-in hybrid version which we obviously got our hands on. It turned out that, despite the fantastic qualifications which BMW has blessed its flagship with, it suffered from two major problems. Let us set off in High Velocity and review the new BMW 740Le.
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The test car which we were given was more well-equipped than Bill Gates’ private jet. The seats were made out of so much leather that it felt undignified to sit in them, the back seat was equipped with butt-massaging, electrical chairs and two TV-screens which could be used to watch the Grand Tour. An extended-wheelbase 7-series is the only model in BMW’s lineup that encourages the owner to sit in the back-seat, a place which is defined by its relaxation and comfort. Just like the rest of the interior, every detail is crafted using utmost precision, and the thick, white (read impractical) carpets in the back act as pillows for your feet.
If you have a chauffeur, the 740Le is an exception travel companion, as is a 740Li and 750Li. However, given that you occasionally want to drive the car yourself, the conclusion changes completely different. The first time I pressed the gas pedal a little harder, I started doubting my premonitions about there being a straight six under the hood. The engine note was simply not smooth enough. When I, after some Googling (and to my surprise), found out that the 740Le in fact has a four-cylinder engine resulted in an unreasonable number of nightmares. A four-cylinder engine in a 7-series is a bit like a Walmart-suit on a King, camping chairs in a private jet, or Mila Kunis on a date with Donald Trump – it’s horribly wrong. Granted, BMW’s petrol-four-cylinder is relatively smooth but simply not smooth enough for a 7-series.
The lack of torque at low revs is often compensated by the adequate electrical motor, but when the batteries are out of juice one is left in the arms of the tiny engine which leaves you demanding more. The engine in a luxury limousine is supposed to have as many cylinders as a young child’s age, if it’s six, eight or twelve doesn’t really matter, as long as the child doesn’t attend nursery. Moreover, the brakes are spongey since they generate electricity which is brilliant for the environment but poisonous for the driving experience.
The 740Le makes one wonder what BMW will think of next; a 7-series with 700 real horses under the hood or maybe a 3-series with only three wheels? Apart from the absurdity under the hood, the 740Le is far from a bad hybrid, but rather a rather good one in terms of range (over 12 miles in real life) and driving modes (everything from pure electric drive to maximum power). As a result of the tax perks, plenty of wealthy executives see this as a perfect carriage, but it shouldn’t be seen as anything but that. The BMW 740Le, better in the back than the front.