BMW 7 Series M760E Xdrive 4DR Auto
… Because once you’re behind the 7’s wheel, you ain’t got to look at it. Happy days.
In fairness, the 7 Series is a curious kind of limo – a car you’ll ideally be chauffeured in, that’s actually pretty handy to drive. For its 2019 facelift, little has changed.
The steering is pleasantly weighted, the car turns with alacrity and precision and though you’re hardly likely to forget it weighs two tonnes and takes up as much road as a Rolls-Royce Ghost, it’s not intimidating to thread along a twisting road, nor a city stretch. But really, it’s a waste of your time and mine to bang on about the handling. For a luxo-four-door BMW that does corners because it wants to, not because it has to, wait for the 8 Gran Coupe.
The 750i has a new V8 engine, which is indeed worth investigating. In order to meet new emissions and fuel economy tests, BMW’s gone to the trouble of engineering a whole new bi-turbo V8, in 2019. That feels a bit special, a bit end of days. It’s a 4.4-litre bi-turbo V8 with 520bhp, and when you’re used to a diet of diesel-powered limos, it’s something of a revelation. Whisper quiet, then deeply burbling. Ultra-smooth, then punchy and responsive. It’s a very happy partner for the eight-speed automatic gearbox, and makes for a pretty fabulous sporting limo, if you’re the one doing the driving.
If you’re not, it’s the ride you’ll be paying more attention to. And as usual for a modern uber-barge, the engineers have done their best but come unstuck, thanks to massive wheels. The 7 Series is sold on 20-inch wheels, and while it breathes and flows with the road with great control and refinement at A-road speeds, it’s upset by in-town imperfections, which it clatters over cumbersomely. Now, in fairness, so does an Audi A8 and a Porsche Panamera, a Mercedes S-Class slightly less so. But it’s a shame that the parent company to Rolls-Royce can’t quite engineer the same uncanny ride excellence into its most affordable plutocratmobile.
By any regular standard, it’s a serenely comfortable device, but we’d sacrifice the big rims and some of that freakishly composed cornering for a touch more waftability, thanks.
Chief wafter in the BMW 7 Series family is the new 745e hybrid. The plug-in model has an official electric-only range of 35 miles, though BMW sportingly admits the lab test figure is optimistic and a more realistic e-range is around 28 miles [46km]. Other makers of hybrids and EVs would do very well to follow BMW’s lead here.
Providing the rest of the motive force is a 3.0-litre straight-six turbo engine, and in total outputs are 390bhp and 443lb ft. That’s par among the usual suspect rivals. It weighs two tonnes, which is actually quite respectable for a big hybrid limo. Only, lots of the weight is stowed under the rear seats, where the battery lives.
Can you tell, on the road? Tricky to say – BMW’s cannily only let us drive the 740Le on urban test routes so far, which flatter the handling and efficiency. Indeed, the engine only woke up once during half an hour of pootling (extremely smoothly, it must be said), meaning total economy was, erm, 2,824mpg.
As ever with plug-in hybrids, it’s a case of making sure your lifestyle and commute absolutely fit the car’s own abilities. If they do, then it’s predictably refined and superbly engineered. If you’ve no space to charge it, and are merely buying for the tax dodge, don’t expect miles per gallon out of the 20s, nor much in the way of straight-line performance once that poor engine’s got to tow along literal dead weight in batteries.
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. Look out for your regular round-up of news, reviews and offers in your inbox.
Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.