Are cars still 'cheap and cheerful' in 2019? We crunch the numbers. And gears...
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Moonlighting as a secret service grunt, are we? That, or perhaps an international fugitive on the run from a secret service grunt. Either way, the spec of TG’s test BMW 750i xDrive M Sport was so menacing, so imposing and so downright scary, it’s a wonder the remainder of the car park where we hid it remained in one piece. Did the spec hide the… the… thing up front? Oh yes. We shall mention it once and not again. The Grille. One of 2019’s big motoring villains. Probably the antagonist in a late-night, animated TV spin-off where it makes amends and wanders the globe helping similarly over-indulged grilles lead wholesome lives. Anyway. BMW saw fit to lower its 750i into a vat of pure black menace. So The Grille (sorry) was totally blacked out. As was the Carbon black body. And black alloy wheels. And black accoutrements. If cars were to ever mirror your soul, god help whoever buys one like this.
Yowser. Indeed. Inside however, it was a sea of uplifting cream leather, plush materials and immaculate finishing. All nice and lovely. Lovely and… fast? Oh hell yes. As mentioned, we’re in the 750i, which nobody in this country will likely buy and therefore makes the remainder of this review moot. But overseas buyers love it, and we love a good V8 barge. And this is a very good V8 barge. Underneath sits an all-new twin-turbo, 4.4-litre V8, tuned for a mighty 520bhp and 553lb ft of torque, sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed gearbox. It records a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds and tops out at a limited 155mph. It’s really very fast indeed. In 2019, with the weight of the world’s opinion firmly fixed against cars of this ilk, it does feel a little strange to revel in something so conspicuous, but goodness, is this thing a laugh. More so than its rivals. Dial it into Sport mode, and the 7 remains the drivers’ limo, able to be thrown around with gleeful disregard; direct steering, a confident, composed chassis and a tautness to the way it enters and exits a corner. Yes it’s big, but for something so big, it handles very impressively. Only the mighty Jaguar XJ gets close, but production of that’s just ceased. That engine is very good. It pulls from nothing, is quiet when you want it to be quiet, and bursts into life with a reassuringly expensive and well-engineered V8 growl. BMW has always made good engines, and this is one of them. But what’s the point of buying a limo to hoon around in? Our thoughts precisely. Wind it back into Comfort Plus, and it’s a relaxing place to ease away a) many miles, and b) the opinions of your fellow road users. Road imperfections are mostly smoothed away into a distant realm, which is quite a feat in Britain; it’s not up there with an S-Class for outright peace and tranquility, but it’s pretty damn close. We suspect slightly less aggressive wheel sizes (and non run-flat tyres) might reduce this already very narrow margin. Still, bet it’s nice inside. A mixed bag, as we noted upon first interaction with this new 7. Weirdly, the analogue stuff works great: wonderful materials, excellent fit and finish and a decent layout. It’s the digital aspect that lets it down a bit – the drivers’ display is quite confusing and distracting, and controlling everything isn’t straightforward (do you make weird hand gestures or just reach for the myriad of buttons?). Overall it is welcoming, looks and feels expensive, and the rear seat passengers are treated to multi-function seats, lots of tech and a good position from which you watch the world go by. Our test car came loaded with options like seat ventilation, a head-up display, massage functionality, and Alcantara headlining, among many other things (like M Sport brakes and exhaust, aero, and a cracking Bowers & Wilkins sound system). So is it worth it? Of course it is. It’s a turbo V8, 4WD BMW limo with loads of tech and speed and toys and space and a big boot. You could even make the argument that it performs all the duties of a family car. Maybe. And as something you might want to have fun in from time to time, it’s the best one of the German triumvirate. Also pretty rare in this spec. You’d bag yourself an amazing car if you got a 750i, but for us, an S-Class just pips it overall. 7/10 Price: £85,810/£108,665 as tested
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