BMW’s snub-nose limo is both very comfortable and very fast, fulfilling both the carmaker’s primary objectives easily.
As always, there’s more tech on work here - regenerative braking, alternator disengagement and other ‘efficient dynamic’ features as well. Ii is ferociously well equipped. But this also means that owners paying nearly a crore for the car are more likely to be worried about windscreen-washer consumption than fuel bills. What will cause more than some worry is the lack of a spare. Yes, run-flat tyres mean you don’t really need a spare, but there are many parts of India which are more than 100km away from a replacement tyre.
The cabin is pretty well put together. Sure there are quirks. You initially can’t spot the door handles on the doorpad, the iDrive will need some of you to invest some time to understand it fully and the design of the dash is not as forward-looking as the exteriors.
The design of the instrument panel, with the LCD panel merging into the dials at the bottom, is stunning and so are comfort levels for front seat passengers.
But this long-wheelbase version has rear seats that can rival first class airline travel. They don’t fold flat but can be reclined, there’s enough legroom for nine-footers, each passenger gets his own big screen and your rear can either be massaged, cooled or heated.
Rear seat passengers also get their own iDrive console and we just can’t remember a more comfortable seat. The armchair seating however means that the centre seat is non-existent.
Performance & Economy
The diesel motor under the hood of the 730Ld is an uprated version of the one that powers the very popular 530d. In this car it makes 245bhp and importantly 55kgm of torque. This reconfigured motor uses a variable nozzle turbo that develops plenty of additional torque.
While 245bhp is nowhere near as good as 407bhp, the diesel’s max torque of 55kgm is nearly as good as that of the petrol. Moving off with a firm shove on the throttle gets this very large and long saloon to positively leap off the line. The straight six diesel motor pulls hard to the redline at 5000rpm and you get a feeling of sustained thrust, similar to an airliner on a short runway.
Zero to 100kph takes a lightning-quick 7.47 seconds and 150 a scant 15.6sec. Hold onto the throttle for 30.9sec and you will be doing 200kph.
Of course, the biggest advantage of the diesel is in just how much more efficient it is compared to the petrol. This large barge needs only a litre of diesel to travel 6.5 kilometres in the city and that is very impressive all things considered.
Ride & Handling
With a larger chassis to absorb more of the diesel motor’s vibrations and an uprated engine, this car is almost petrol-smooth. The 730Ld is an amazingly refined diesel. This is especially true if you are going to lounge on the rear seats, where the motor is all but inaudible.
Helping achieve this smoothness is a third-generation common-rail direct injection system. Rail pressure is up to 2000 bar, fast-acting Piezo injectors are used and the improvement in the timing and number of the injections makes the diesel run smoother. The motor’s usability is also greatly enhanced by how well it meshes with the six-speed gearbox.
The long wheelbase version rides particularly well on its adjustable dampers and softened rear self-leveling suspension, even on our poorly surfaced roads. Ride quality is very pliant and silent in ‘Comfort’, where only extreme road features make their presence felt. And this is despite the run-flat tyres.
The long-wheelbase 7-series has air springs in the rear but lacks the low speed ‘lift’ feature where ride height is increased. The car wallows a bit in ‘Comfort’ at speed, but then it’s better to select ‘Normal’ here. For more spirited driving, there’s also ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport+. Agility in ‘Sport’ is pretty incredible for a car of its size. The dampers firm up nicely, the car shrinks around you and feels as agile as something much smaller.
High tech comes to the BMW’s aid here as the active rear wheel steering system helps make this car feel both more agile and stable than it is. The rear wheels are steered in the opposite direction at low speeds and the same way at higher speeds and the system really works well. It rolls a bit, the steering is surprisingly light for a BMW and that’s a bit of a disappointment.
The 7 is so comfortable that for once in a BMW it’s difficult to figure out which is the better seat to be in. Sure the 7 is a fun drive.
BMW’s snub-nose limo is both very comfortable and very fast, fulfilling both the carmaker’s primary objectives easily. The long-wheelbase version is seldom fazed by our roads and comfort on the first class airline-like rear seats is the best there can be. The diesel motor is very refined, performance is very strong and fuel economy good enough never to be noticed.
The rear wheel steering gives it some of the agility of a smaller car without sacrificing stability at all and the regenerative brakes and clever electrics make it very clean and efficient as well. It’s true, BMW has achieved almost every important objective. But the new 7 is not perfect.
It’s not as much of a step forward as the earlier car was. It’s not as involving a driver’s car, the steering feels a bit lifeless and the cabin could have been better insulated from the outside world. But if these little things and the Rs 99-lakh price tag don’t faze you, this car truly has some special skills.
What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) 99.34-119.82 crore
Installation Front, Longitudinal
Compression ratio 16.5:1
Valve gear 4 valves per cylinder, DOHC
Power to weight 124.05bhp per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed Auto
Chassis & Body
Tyres 245/50 R18 Run Flat
Front Independent, double-joint spring strut
Rear Independent, Air-suspension
Type Rack and Pinion, power assisted, active rear wheel steering
Type of power assist Hydraulic
Front 348mm ventilated discs
Rear 345mm ventilated discs
Tank size 80litres
Range at a glance - Engines
Petrol 4.3,3.0 litre
Diesel 3.0 litre