I always feel like I should be wearing a chauffeurs cap when driving the BMW 7 Series. The ‘Daddy’ of the BMW passenger car range is certainly focused on delivering a great experience to those in the rear-seat.
But, if you find yourself at the controls it’s also a nice experience with plenty of power available and better than you might expect driving dynamics.
I recently had a drive in the stretched 750Li version, this time around though I had the keys to the six-cylinder petrol version – the 2018 BMW 740i.
The current edition BMW 7 Series range has been out for a couple of years now and remains a good-looking vehicle in my opinion.
Not as in your face as a couple of the German saloon car rivals, the BMW offering catches your eye with the massive front kidney grille at the front, the chrome styling highlights and the big dual exhaust outlets at the rear.
Even though this is the standard body version (i.e. not the stretched ‘L’) the rear seat legroom is more than adequate for regular adults.
You also have the advantage here of having a centre seat, something the “limo” version doesn’t get.
There’s an iPad type controller in the rear/top of the centre armrest and this provides you with controls for things like your individual TV and radio settings etc.
The seats are a highlight in the BMW 740i no matter where you sit and are heated up-front as standard, rear seat heating is an optional extra.
No matter which BMW car/SUV you purchase in 2018 you get essentially the same dashboard layout and similar controls, I always liken this to the flight deck of the different Airbus planes that all have a lot of commonality.
The full digital instrumentation is a highlight in the BMW 7 Series, along with the head-up display that gives you info beyond just the speed you’re traveling at, including the speed zone info for the area you’re in.
The BMW 7 Series cabin is light and airy with large windows all round and the engineers have done a terrific job of keeping outside noise out, though you do get a little noticeable tyre noise on some surfaces.
But the real party trick in the 7 Series cabin is the gesture control function.
This sensor-based feature allows you to turn the radio volume up and down by simply moving your finger in the air, it also allows you to do things like answer or reject a phone call without having to touch any controls.
Oh, and there’s fragrance control too and this allows you to control the fresh scent circulating throughout the cabin.
Like all BMW vehicles there’s a massive list of extra features and customization options that you can choose.
But even just the garden variety 740i comes well-stocked with standard gear including:
- 16-speaker stereo
- Power-adjustable steering column
- Powered rear blind
- Ambient lighting
- Surround-view camera system
- Electric sunroof
- Digital radio
- Full Nappa leather trim (Merino leather available for $10,000+)
It’s always hard to go past BMW’s iconic straight-six engine and even though it’s pushing around a 1715kg in this application it is better than adequate.
The power comes on smoothly and never feels less than up to the job both in straight line acceleration and when tacking hills.
For the record, here the engine is good for 240kW/450Nm and is mated exclusively to a silky-smooth eight-speed auto transmission.
Speaking of silky smooth, the BMW 740i has air suspension that is self-leveling and is remarkable system.
Yes, you do get a little harshness from the 19″ run-flat tyres, however you really can’t fault the suspension in this vehicle with the best of both comfort and performance should you find yourself on a winding road.
There isn’t an ANCAP safety rating for the current BMW 7 Series range, however the 740i comes stacked with active and passive safety gear including:
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Blind-spot sensors
- Front, side and rear cameras
- Corner braking Control
- Refinement and luxury
- Driving dynamics (for such a large vehicle)
- Standard features (adequate for price tag)
Not So Good Bits
- High price of some options
- Run-flat/low-profile tyres let down brilliant suspension
The BMW 740i is beyond the budget of most car buyers and is predominantly a car aimed at the hire car/limo operators of the world, along with high-flying execs etc.
Interestingly, these target customers are anecdotally staying with passenger cars and not necessarily jumping on the SUV bandwagon with as much enthusiasm as the rest of the market.
Regardless, BMW has delivered a car that is not only a delight to be driven in, but a delight to drive too.
Do you need the more powerful variants? I don’t think so, I thought the six-cylinder version was more than up to the job and didn’t let the big BMW flagship down at all.
Facts and Figures: 2018 BMW 740i
- Engine: Six-cylinder turbo-petrol producing 240kW/450Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Safety: Not tested
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Germany
- Price: from $229,900