This rolling statement allows drivers to hover around in utmost comfort while enjoying some of the most advanced technology.
Picture yourself in a tailored suit, en route to a formal occasion being held in your honour. Your time is now, and very few obstacles present themselves as a true challenge for your great intuition. You are the boss, and you intend on having your way. You enjoy the thrill of driving, however the comfort and convenience of being driven is just as appealing. Whereas not too long ago, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (reviewed here) was the optimal choice in premium long-wheel-base travel for many executives, BMW has come forth with an alternative, and a rather good one at that. The new 2017 BMW 740Le PHEV combines elegant taste and hybrid tricks, making it one of the most efficient flagship luxury sedans money can buy.
This rolling statement allows drivers to hover around in utmost comfort while enjoying some of the most advanced technology you’ll find in any car. From scented air conditioning to media gesture recognition, the BMW 7-series is an impressive machine. What makes the 740Le even more so impressive is its ability to offer you these toys while using minimal amounts of fuel. Mechanically speaking, this is a plug-in hybrid, complete with Ontario’s Green Vehicle license plates.
The lithium-ion battery puts out 111 horsepower with 184 lb-ft of torque and can independently drive the car for roughly 20 kilometres before reverting to the gasoline motor. To the surprise of many, under the hood lays a 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, similar to the X5 xDrive40e (reviewed here). The immediate consensus would be that a car this large with an engine that small, the vehicle would be grossly underpowered, however, I can attest that it surely is not. The mighty four-banger delivers 255 horsepower at 5,000 RPM with 295 lb-ft of torque at just 1,550 RPM, allowing the 740 to propel itself from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.3 seconds. Make no mistake, this car is no slouch.
Some will argue that with a car of this nature, it requires a large V8 under the bonnet, or even a larger V12. While yes I do agree to some extent, there are some advantages of opting for the “less is more” lifestyle. BMW gives the 740 fuel ratings of 9.5L/100km city and 8L/100km highway, with a combined average rating of 8.8L/100km. After living with the car for a week, I scored a below average rating of 8.4L/100km which is rather impressive for a car that weighs 2150 kilograms. As expected, the 78-liter tank does require premium fuel.
This is all thanks to the intuitive hybrid I-Performance drive system with the added help of the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. A side benefit that truly shows its grace with the smaller engine and battery technology, is how quiet the cabin is when in motion. Exterior noise is virtually eliminated thanks to incredible sound dampening technology and the smaller engine; even more so when the car is in pure electric drive mode.
While the exterior of the car does look spectacular, the interior is where the 740 shines. The cabin offers five coloured accent lighting options, those being white, orange, green, blue, and lilac. The plush quilted seats finished in Canberra Beige extended Nappa Leather with Fineline High-Gloss wood trim exude perfect contract with subtle details that make the world of a difference. The Executive Package ($5,500) ads the luxury of a panoramic sunroof, along with climate comfort laminated glass. It also adds a multi-point massage function for the driver that will alleviate any stress induced by the hassles of other drivers on the highway.
Even the rear window comes equipped with an automatic sunshade, whilst this package adds additional automatic shades on the side windows for added privacy. Heated seats and steering wheel are a must in this Canadian weather, and ventilated seats are added with the aforementioned Executive Package for those warmer days.
The “L” in 740Le is a marker that identifies this car as a long-wheelbase variant of the 7-series. Added legroom is provided for rear-seat passengers all around, and the Executive Lounge Tier 2 package ($10,000) takes full advantage of that extra space. It all makes this sedan resemble the likes of a private jet. The seating capacity is reduced from five passengers to four, with a centre console replacing the middle position on the back seat. The console provides extra storage and stores an extendable tray table for the passenger sitting on the right side.
Those sitting in the rear of the 740Le will also notice a tablet in the console that can be used to control various vehicle settings, such as lighting, radio settings, navigation – you name it. The tablet is locked in position on the centre console, but can be removed with the touch of a button. Both seats in the rear offer complete massage abilities, as well as heating and ventilation settings. Both seats can be manipulated for optimal comfort with thanks to reclining and repositioning features.
The true executive seat, being the seat behind the passenger, holds its own little secret. At the push of a button, the front passenger seat moves all the way forward and tucks down the headrest. Once the chair is all the way forward, a small ottoman unfolds from the back of the chair, all while the rear seat moves into a reclined position. The lucky passenger can now lay back and relax in true comfort. The Tier 2 lounge package also includes two displays mounted on the back of each front seat headrest. These screens can be control by a remote control that is also included.
The striking design of the 740Le is not confined within the spacious interior. As we work our way to the outside, the striking design emotes grace with some minor aggressive touches thanks to the M Sport Package ($4,900). Chrome and aluminum accents are replaced with black contrast pieces that stand out against lighter colours. Our tester came in Glacier Silver Metallic, so the black pieces set off a true impression.
The doorsills are notably lined with illuminated “M” badging as a reminder that this car is paired with M performance bits. The trend of adding these performance division marques on non-performance cars is proving to be a bit of a controversial move, as enthusiasts find that this dilutes the true meaning of the M badge. However, the wheels included in the M Sport Package are sporty 19” light alloy, double spoke bi-colour units set on staggered run-flat tires, with 245/45 R19s at the front and 275/45 R19s at the back.
The long-wheel-base structure of this car does make it a bit more of a challenge to maneuver in tighter spaces. That being said, the amount of assists jam-packed into the 740Le make it so easy to move around, that it almost renders it all complicated again. The Driver Assistance Package ($4,200) includes minor things like headlight washers, but the true aids come in handy when trying to park the large sedan.
A barrage of cameras is unleashed to your control, ranging from your stand single-angle reverse camera, to a more advanced 180-degree front cross-traffic camera. The impressive part is the 360-degree bird’s eye view, which can also become a camera which displays and image of what it would look like if you were treading outside the car. While on the topic of cameras, it is also noteworthy that a night vision camera is also made available for low visibility driving, making is easier to spot oncoming obstacles.
I could go on and on about how much tech has been jammed into this car, as it’s almost mind boggling, and I hate to say it, but, it’s almost too much. As much as I like some of the feature like gesture controls for volume and other media, they become an annoyance over time, just as any other novelty would. It takes some time to get comfortable in this car and to understand how everything works. Don’t get me wrong, the 7-series remains by far one of the most impressive, quiet, and comfortable cars I ever driven.
A base 740Le starts at $107,900, and by no means is that a cheap price for those looking to buy a new car. By the time you add all the fancy options and packages like the ones I mentioned, plus the Premium Package ($4,000), and other stand-alone options like the Bower & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound system ($4,900), the price quickly rises. This particular test vehicle stickers for over $146,000. It’s one of those cars that is nice to drive, all whilst at the same time a pleasure to be driven in. You get more technology than in a Rolls-Royce Wraith (reviewed here) at a fraction of the price, all while feeling like a king.
Is it worth it? That’s a fantastic question. The better question one must ask is how often are you being driven in this car, because if the answer is hardly ever, then there really isn’t much point. With the 2017 BMW 740Le PHEV, what the Bavarians have created is an impressive machine. I love that the design, and I love the power output from such a small engine. There remains ample passing power with the added luxury of utter silence. It will be interesting to see how a $146,000 PHEV sedan will do in the Canadian market.
2017 BMW 740Le PHEV Gallery