First Drive: 2016 BMW 750Li xDrive and 730d xDrive Review +VIDEO
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
THE AUTO CHANNEL
PORTO, Portugal - August 29, 2015: With the new 7 Series, BMW wants to attract even more customers than it did with the current generation, of which some 370 thousand units were sold. Our first test drive with the 2016 model will prove if that's a realistic goal.
The new generation 7 Series is, as is usual with a new flagship, the model that is packed with new technologies. Therefore, it was no surprise that there was a world premiere for the media this past June, well ahead of the show premiere at the IAA auto show in Frankfurt in just 3 weeks.
READ: New 2016 BMW 7 Series Unveiled in Munich.
Even earlier, I was attending some workshops that highlighted the new
technology in the 6th generation 7 Series, where I also had the opportunity
to drive some camouflaged prototypes.
READ: First Drive: 6th Generation BMW 7 Series Prototype.
Long wheel base, or not This week, the event for the first media drives started in Porto with two models, the 750i L and the 730d. The 750i L with its long wheel base will be the only variant to reach the American market. Canada gets the 750i L and 740i L. The diesel may be exported there, but this is not confirmed yet. China will also exclusively get the 750i L, but the arrival there of the 730i is scheduled for the not too far future.
The offerings will vary on world wide markets, but the 730d, the top diesel variant will probably be the model of choice in Europe, especially because of its low fuel consumption of an average of 7.0-6.6 liters per 100 km, or 40.4-42.8 mph imp with a CO2-emission of 164-154 g/km CO2.
Whether the US will get a diesel during the course of the lifecycle of the new generation ‘7 ‘ remains unsure. However, BMW notices that diesels are getting more popular in America. More than 20 per cent of the BMW X5 sales are diesel models, while the X3 and 3 Series are also offered with the a diesel engine.
In Germany, the best selling model of the current 7 Series is the 730d (including LWB); worldwide the 6-cylindr gasoline engine is the most popular version. xDrive is getting more popular, also in warmer regions, with 24 percent of the customers of the 7 Series choosing this option
In the previous articles, I discussed the highlights of BMW’s new flagship, such as the use of CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) and the combination with high strength steel and aluminum. Or the standard air suspension up front to complement the already existing rear air suspension that automatically lowers the car when switched to Sport mode.
In addition, I also talked about the new features for the ConnectedDrive system. New systems that are prepared to ‘talk’ to each other and the infrastructure, are harbingers for autonomous driving.
In the prototype, we could not see the interior and in the ‘real thing’ we were impressed with the materials, the build quality and the many features that make life easy for both driver and passengers.
I think you'll be surprised to learn that I started the test drive of the 730d in the back seat, while my colleague focused on driving. Although we are used to taking our turns driving, which gives us time to check out the rear seats’ leg and head room, this time the drill was different. Most owners would like to sit in the rear and work in the comfort of their car, with lots of room, soft leather seats, and the temperature of the AC adjusted to their own likings.
After we left the highway and went into the mountains along the Douro river, my driver –excuse me, colleague - not only changed the setting from Comfort to Sport, but also had tuned himself into a dynamic driving mode. Time to hop onto the passenger seat up front before taking control of the car.
After take off, the first thing I noticed was that the gear lever has been somewhat redesigned: it feels bigger. When driving, you do not hear any specific diesel sound and hardly any other noise, except from the wheels on the asphalt and sometimes some wind noise around the mirrors, depending on the wind force. There is no indication at all that there is diesel engine under the hood. The 3.0-liter power plant is like the other ones available for the new 7 Series, part of the latest generation of engines with 195 kW/265 hp, the 3.0-liter six-cylinder has 5 kW more than before. A very important advantage of a diesel is its high power, in this case no less than 620 Nm, or 457 pound-feet of torque, which is noticeable by its great pulling power. Consumption and emissions are down compared to the current model, thanks to weight reduction of the car, improved thermodynamics for the turbo charging system and a new common-rail direct injection system. xDrive is an option for the diesel models.
Forgive me, but I cannot fail to say it again: the long range of a diesel engine is part of a driver’s comfort by paying less visits to the gas station.
Apart from my appreciation of diesel engines, I have to admit that I am still a V-8 aficionado. It has to do with the big roaring eight-cylinders of the American muscle cars that I have been brought up with. Nowadays, I am still happy to drive a V8 model and that also goes for the 750i L xDrive, the second model available for our 7 Series test drives. Again, I started our ‘exercise’ on the rear seat, while Timo Resch, BMW’s vice president product management grand series, explained how to operate the systems available for the privileged owner. It is really too much to cover in ten minutes, let alone in a thousand words. Dealers are being trained for two to three days to learn all the ins and outs of their new flag ship. Anyway, I could try, feel, and see several features that are important for the luxurious atmosphere of the new 7 Series.
There is the opportunity to have a gentle massage on preferred upper body parts, or even a total body massage, which is so gentle that after a short while you do not pay attention anymore. There are eight programs, each with three different levels of intensity.
You can enjoy and relax with your backrest reclined up to 42.5 degrees, moving into a real relaxing position with your legs on the electrically adjustable foot rest. The center console that can also be left out to provide space for a third passenger in the rear, houses the Touch Command unit, a fold-out table, two cup holders and a storage compartment. The Executive Lounge is exclusively available for the long-wheelbase 7 Series.
Let there be light
In the Long versions, the Ambient Light option can be extended with Ambient highlight, a light attached to the B-pillar. Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president BMW Group design said, “In the long version this pillar is quite robust but with the light it looks more premium.” The option includes Welcome Light Carpet, a light ‘tapestry’ on the floor near the doors that welcomes the owner as soon as the car senses his or her approach. The intensity and color of the ambient light can be adjusted from the iDrive menu or the Touch Command pad in the rear. Furthermore there is the optional Ambient Air package that offers a fragrance disposal function and an air ionization feature.
In the drivers seat
It is really lovely to sit in the rear, but really, I prefer to drive myself. The long wheel base 750i behaves as expected. The car weighs just under two ton (4,409 pounds) but the steering feel is very confident and the big car does not seem to be over weight. The xDrive in our test car was combined with the optional Integral Active Steering, a package that provides excellent dynamics and balance. And oh, the engine! The V8 has been redeveloped. It has 4.4 liters displacement and with TwinPower Turbo technology with the turbo charges places in the V-shape between the cylinder banks, now comes with Twin Scroll turbo chargers and back-specific exhaust manifolds. Together with other modifications the power output is now 330kW/450 hp and 650 Nm/479 lb-ft at 1,800-4,500 rpm. BMW states an acceleration time for 0-62 mph of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. Average consumption according to the EU cycle is 8.5-8.3 liter per 100 km or 33.2-34.0 mph imp, with 197-192 g/km CO2. The engine works very quiet, but when you push the throttle, the sound is there!
There are many more features that make the 7 Series a true flagship. I mention full LED headlights that are fitted standard and optional Laser light with anti-dazzle function, like in the i8 sports car. The standard full-color heads-up display has a 75 per cent larger projection area, optimized graphics, and there is a slew of options such as remote control parking, crossing traffic warning, active side collision protection, steering and lane control assistant, night vision with Dynamic Light Spot, 3D Surround view and much more.
To answer the question whether BMW’s goal of selling more cars of the new generation than the outgoing one, I think the Germans can be confident. Customers have some choices in the luxury class. Like the Mercedes S Class, the BMW 7 Series is one that should be seriously considered.
The new 7 Series will arrive in the BMW showrooms on October 24. In the course of 2016, BMW will introduce the 740e, a plug-in-hybrid model. I will report about this in the near future; please stay tuned!