What is it?
Why will I buy it?
Potent diesel engine, incredible seat comfort, impressive driving dynamics
Why will I avoid it?
You get more character with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class
This facelifted BMW 7 Series went on sale in the Indian market two months ago. Of course, the obvious question to answer is what's new in this iteration? And, apart from the looks (which we'll get to in a bit), the new 7 packs-in the latest tech, the brand's latest iDrive system, fresh trim options, and a host of new features.
But before we get to any of that, let's get the exterior design out of the way. The 7 now gets the brand's laser headlamps which unquestionably gives it a mean appearance. But, we have to admit that BMW went overboard with the dimensions of the kidney grille. Its shockingly large! But like they say- if you like your bling..big, then you might take to it easier than I did!
As for the profile, the 7 Series lineage is hard to miss. An extravagantly long bonnet that flows on to the rear revealing a smooth silhouette, sharp creases and a strong shoulder-line. I admit that I liked the rear section best (pun intended). The straight lines across the boot’s sheet metal run parallel to the exceedingly wide tail lamps, and the shroud enveloping the twin exhausts- a trick effect that exaggerates the already wide stance of this sedan.
How is it on the inside?
Considering that majority of the owners will be chauffeur driven, let’s get straight to the rear. Our car had beige interiors, and this along with the large twin-sunroof brightens the cabin tremendously. And then, the sight of the humungous leg-room ahead of the comfy rear seats that’s split apart by a large arm rest (with a tablet lodged in) makes you itch to jump in and feel everything.
I obliged, and behind me, the soft shutting doors did its job by cocooning me from the rest of the deprived world. Being an automotive journalist, the critic within me was eager to get to work, and I went through the endless buttons and options. While at it, I found a button that pushes away the front seat to the extreme end, and a leg-rest popped out! Although, one can stretch out and relax here, the system also prompts the driver if the front passenger seat is blocking the door mirror view!
Now, the rear seats can be electrically adjusted for recline, and head, thigh and lumbar support for a supreme tailor-made posture. Furthermore, they aren’t just ventilated and heated, but there are some serious massage options with intensity levels that you can take advantage of. And, in case you were paranoid about those prying eyes watching you adore the massaging affects (while inching through traffic), there are electric window blinders that instantly shut the outside world off!
All in all, we found ourselves heating and cooling our seats, picking naughty positions (seat!), and massaging our backsides- showing how deprived our lives are! Before I deviate any further, there are two screens behind each front seat so that you can watch your favourite media aloud, or plug in a pair of ear phones. These screens allow you to also set some of the car’s settings like the cabin lighting, make seat adjustments, and alter the climate control.
And, if you’re the lazy kind, and felt the buttons and screen were too far out to reach, there’s a Samsung tablet that can be detached from the arm rest. This makes it handy to make seat adjustments, opt for the massage modes, set the climate control, operate the sunroofs and use the navigation and media player.
Moving on to the front, the gorgeous beige-tan dual theme adds an expensive flavour to the unmistakable BMW design theme. Fit and finish is of high order, and coupled with the immaculate use of soft touch materials, glossy-wood finish, and brushed steel and piano black inserts, these elements collectively make the cabin feel exceptionally plush.
What also adds to the premium experience, is the all-digital instrument cluster and touchscreen infotainment system- both of which offer excellent high-resolution graphics. The touchscreen, in particular, is easy to use on the go, not just because it is wide and positioned at eye level, but also due to the touch-sensitive panel and snappy frame rates.
Furthermore, all controls to the car’s features and functions are ergonomically placed within reach. And, in terms of storage, there’s ample stowage in the large door pads, inside the arm rest, and then some in the flat glove-box. Let’s move on to the front seats now. ‘Drivers’ will revel in the comfort and support offered via superior cushioning, great contours and numerous seat adjustments including lumbar, and massage options (driver seat only). Additionally, there’s lots of headroom, shoulder-room and knee-room here too.
As for the boot, although deep, it isn’t as wide and tall as you’d imagine. You guessed right- it has a lot to do with the spare wheel robbing it of space. At most, this boot can swallow 2 medium sized suitcases along with some soft bags. Furthermore, the car you see in the pictures is the 730Ld DPE Signature and we’ve explained the features in detail here.
How does it drive?
Under the 730Ld’s stretched-out hood is a 262bhp, 3.0-litre inline-six diesel with a massive 620Nm of torque, and an eight speed automatic transmission. As expected of a car of this league, NVH levels are well contained thanks to excellent cabin insulation. As I prepared to drive off the mark and fed some throttle, the 730Ld just shot off with absolutely no effort!
Amazed at how the 620Nm easily lugged over 1900kg into motion, I hungrily mashed the accelerator pedal even further, and the car nudged ahead with even more zest (in comfort mode!). As a draft of evil air caught my breath, I quickly hit the Sport mode button and floored the throttle at around 60kmph.Almost instantly, I could feel the added grunt hit the wheels, and the 7 simply scooted to triple digits speeds in a linear fashion, with a blink of the eye.
The gain in momentum was so rapid that my eyes strained to focus on the light-poles which’d begun to fade in the foreground! To give you a perspective, our VBox software recorded the 0-100kmph sprint in a staggering 6.37 seconds, which is quite sprightly for a car of its nature and size. After which the 730Ld went on to hit 160kmph in 15.76 seconds. Even overtaking is a breeze; the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs in kickdown take just 3.94 seconds and 4.74 seconds.
Now, let’s admit it; the reduced responses in Comfort and EcoPro in return for frugality and driving comfort may persuade you into thinking that these modes make the 730Ld a dud, right? Surprisingly, the response is so keen that driving in most situations, even in Comfort and EcoPro is nothing short of brisk.
What helps the overall responsive nature of this motor, is the slick eight-speed transmission with well-judged gear ratios, that’s well calibrated to this engine. In fact, the only instance you feel the distinct gearshifts, is in Sport mode since the system is bent on extracting the most grunt to keep the momentum on boil.
As the 730Ld rides on air springs, the ride quality is irrefutably comfortable, regardless of the speed you’re travelling at. This holds true in either of the preset modes (EcoPro, Comfort and Sport mode), as the ride is extremely absorbent. The suspension simply soaks up all the road imperfections and undulations without a fuss. There is one downside though; the run flat tyres can get audible when going over bigger bumps and expansion joints on cement roads.
Having said that, selecting Sport mode makes the 7 far sportier to drive since it markedly firms up the suspension set-up, and renders it less floaty. In fact, it dials down the roll considerably too. On a different note, the ability to adjust the ride height via a button on the 730Ld’s centre console helps when the road conditions deteriorate severely.
Another delight on this 7 is the favourable steering response. It just sucks the effort out of the equation, and makes driving this large luxury sedan a joke. What’s more, you don’t have to wrestle with the steering wheel while attacking a tight bend, or even while manoeuvring through tight city spots. What inadvertently helps here, are the preset modes which also affect the lightness of the steering between EcoPro, Comfort and Sport; the extra heft in the last mode lending the 7 its sportier character.
Should I buy one?
There’s hardly anything that puts you off the edge in the 730Ld unless you had to literally nit-pick. So yes, there’s some tyre noise over cement roads, and besides that, one needs to also get over the paranoia of driving in tight confines.
On a positive note though, the 730Ld has so much to like. For one, you’re blessed with a rich aura when seen in one. Then, there’s the pristine and comfortable interiors, an endless list of safety and comfort features, a swift diesel motor and very usable road manners. After spending two days behind the 730Ld’s wheel, I have to admit that I certainly wish I could afford one!
Where does it fit in?
The BMW 730Ld DPE Signature that we’ve reviewed here retails at Rs 1.59 crores (On-Road Mumbai). On the other hand, you can get the Mercedes-Benz S-Class for Rs 1.63 crores, while the Jaguar XJL costs Rs 1.35 crores.
Pictures: Kaustubh Gandhi