After a long while of driving equal creations from Ingolstadt and Stuttgart, we finally got to test the globally renowned 7-Series from BMW. Our prejudice vouched for the German flagship, but it also meant that it had to both be a driver’s car and a chauffeur-driven choice of automobile to regain favour.
DESIGN & AESTHETICS
The current BMW 750 Li is just an iteration of the 5th generation that was launched about half a decade ago. It has always been a popular choice with locals and expats, those whose yearly earnings are well above the 7-figure bracket.
The 2013 model maintains the bold styling of the pre-facelift car. Its sharp-edged creases easily give away the autocratic character and the overly sized exteriors amply that design intention.
However, several changes have been incorporated into the car in terms of detailing. Take, for instance, the number of vertical chrome bars on the kidney grille; they have been reduced from 13 to 9 on each grille. The headlamps now are all LEDs and have a unique shape as compared to the rounded ‘corona’ styling seen on older models. Even the redness on the rear tail lamps are of a different shade. The rest of the car is a carbon copy of the pre-facelift model.
The interior is plainly Germanic. It would be hard to distinguish it from its lesser siblings, the 5-Series or even the 3-Series. So there is an element of that austerity, like any other BMW in the range. That being said the cabin oozes quality. The fit and finish are of such a high grade, the 7-Series should receive a Nobel prize if there were to be one for this category.
The Germans are known for prioritising functionality; their railway timetables and the detailing in their cars are examples. So it comes as no surprise the ergonomics in the 750 Li are top drawer. All the buttons and knobs that operate the radio, air conditioner etc are right where you need them, they have legible lettering and there is a resounding feeling of tactility to them.
The door handles have an unusual high placement and have been weirdly concealed catering to some BMW boffin’s design ethos and, interestingly, you need two tugs of the door pull to open the door, one to unlock and one to actually it. This reminds us of the confirmation window that pops up when you delete something off your laptop.
One thing we didn’t like was the size of the 3-spoke steering wheel; you could steer a public bus with this thing and it certainly doesn’t belong here. Even the leather that wraps the wheel is coarse and debased.
The 7-Series being a tech-laden cruiser; much of its occupant’s attention would be drawn by the huge 10.2-inch multi-media screen and the iDrive system, whose operation was previously hazardous to common logic.
The rear cabin has NBA-player approved legroom and if you get the Li model (‘L’ denoting long) the overall length increases by 5.5 inches; most of which goes to rear seat accommodation. This is especially nice if you like to be chauffer driven.
And if personalisation was a priority and you would pay any amount of money to look more tasteful than your real estate-agent neighbour; BMW will help you out with that too. They offer customers a choice of 12 exterior paints and 9 wheel designs. This extends to the insides as well, with 11 shades of leather available from the Pantone library and 6 wood trims to keep that minimalistic connection with nature.
Did I mention that the cabin is lavishly crafted with soft leather upholstery and the overall space rivals some apartments in the Marina. The 7-series is definitely a good place to be in and be seen in.
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
Unlike BMWs of the past, the name does not describe the engine displacement anymore. These days, the 750 means a 4.4litre V8 force fed by twin-turbos. This is a mark of BMW’s efficiency vision; an effort to make everything leaner and greener, without giving away performance.
All the 445 horses are served at 5,500 rpm, they do a good job of motivating this 2035kg chuck of metal. From stop light to 100 km/h, it will thunder down the highway in 4.8 seconds; this is ‘M’ performance territory. And the top speed, by some bizarre Deutschland automotive pact, is limited to 250 km/h; but we doubt if you would need more pace than that even on the Autobahn.
Beemers are known to hold their lines around bends and the feedback the steering wheel offers serves as a direct connection with your cranial nerves. The same formula applies here but the weight of the 750 and the long wheelbase thwart some edginess. It still is amongst the better driver’s car in its segment. There is an ECO pro mode that dulls throttle response and deactivates the climate control at stop lights, then you have the COMFORT modes for everyday driving, and finally SPORT and SPORT plus modes for aggressive upshifts, a stiffer suspension set up and better steering feel; the latter also allows the gauges to turn red.
Ride quality is creamy like soft butter; no jarring vibrations are transferred from wheels to seats. And the cabin is so quite the passengers seem like they have been hermetically sealed from humanity.
The 750Li is equipped with a large 80-litre tank that will help it do 930 km, averaging 8.6 l/100km. That figure and the 199 g/km CO2 emissions figure may sound more fairytale than fact, but in reality, the 750 with its 8-cog ‘box, ECO pro mode, regenerative braking etc, sets a good example for the lesser siblings of the range to follow.
FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY
BMW’s current iDrive system is so much better than the first generation model and it gets better with every iteration. The menus are logically stacked and accessing the functions through the rotary menu is a simpler task now. In the past learning the functions of the iDrive was cumbersome through encyclopedic instruction manuals, but now you can do it through the iDrive itself.
The 3D rendering of urban areas on the 10.2-inch screen is definitely a sight to see, they have even give it a blue sky. Mind you it is not sensitive to touch, instead all functions are operated thorough the iDrive rotary knob on the lower centre console. Also, the new nav’ is more intelligent, it can take the whole location, including the street, locality and city all at one go, not in separate verbal burps.
The air-conditioning has the capacity to cool the interiors well even in the summers and the 4-zone climate control allows for each passenger to have a setting of his or her own.
There are plenty of safety features as well, the 7 Series by definition is a vault. There is a button with the half moon over the road, it operates the night vision feature which turns the screen into a sort of black and white, infra-red operated screen that picks up movements and heat signals.
The rear seat entertainment package is much improved now. The dual flat screens are slimmer, almost iPad like and the rear passengers can control much of the cars functions through their own iDrive controller.
Unlike most other sedan you don’t get folding rear seats to up the 14 cu. ft cargo space. But you do have a kick-to-open boot. Basically, if you have gone shopping and both your hands are busy, just place your foot under the rear bumper and it will unlock the trunk for you.
The affluent customer will also like the sound of their favourite symphonies or perhaps even the voice of Justin Beiber resonating off the 1200-Watt 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround sound system; it includes a fancy pop-up speaker on the dash. You can also stream audio of your USB pen drive, if you like, off your phone using Bluetooth etc. And if you have borrowed a friend collector’s CD collection, you can rip all of those tunes into the hard drive.
The 2013 BMW 750Li is a flagship model in its true sense. It is also a tech-tour-de-force that is two parts performance and one part comfort. People who obsess over the brand BMW now have a good excuse to get one and for those who aren’t, they will be pampered into purchasing one by the power, space and technological gimmickry the BMW 750 Li offers. We say, let this be your pre-retirement incentive!
The BMW logo is a depiction of the rotating white propellers of a plane with the blue sky as the background. It hints at BMWs aircraft manufacturing history.
GOOD: Snob value; Build quality; Potent powertrain; Technological gimmickry
BAD: Price; Austere interiors; The large diameter of the coarse leather-wrapped steering wheel
EDITOR’S RATING: 7.5/10 stars
Body type - 5-seater; 4-door premium full-size luxury sedan
Engine - Front-engine; Twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8; Rear-wheel drive
Transmission - 8-speed automatic
Peak output - 450 bhp @ 5,500 rpm - 650 Nm @ 2,000 - 4,500 rpm
0 to 100km/h - 4.8 seconds (electronically limited)
Top speed - 250 km/h (electronically limited)
Price - Starting from AED 482,000
A majority of my work at CIMA involves nurturing and equipping young talent with essential business and finance skills who can contribute not just to their organisation’s success, but also to the progress and growth of the UAE’s economy.
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