However, before I get into that, let me first elaborate a bit on the car as a luxury item. The luxury item in particular being the 750Li.
Top of the range
For starters, the L stands for long wheelbase and it is huge, around five meters in length. The car exudes power from every angle, and not just from a mechanical sense. As for the looks, well it is about time we got a good looking 7-series. The previous models featured some questionable styling elements.
This new one though looks good, stately and thanks to the chrome blade insert along the lower doors, modern as well. The kidney shaped grille is unmistakeably BMW, however, unlike the previous Seven, it now comes with opening louvers to aid aerodynamics when moving and to hide the radiator when stationary.
Inside is where the magic happens though. Leather and wood covers just about everything and once your bum lands on the seat, you know that you are in something special. Close the door and you are instantly cocooned in a world of luxury. Those seated in the back are in for the biggest treat of all. Why you ask? Well, being the L version there is added leg room for extra comfort.
In addition, my test car came fitted with the lounge package that adds ventilated and massaging electrically adjustable pews, as well as pillow soft headrests. Under the bonnet lies a 4.4-litre twin turbocharged V8 - borrowed from the M5 – which produces 330kW and 650Nm of torque.
As impressive as this sounds, the automotive landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, with being environmentally friendly the main drawing card.
The eco alternative
Fortunately, BMW also has this side of the market covered with the new 740e I was fortunate to drive recently. Initially, I was worried because the 7-series has so much electronic wizardry on-board that I was certain it would need the batteries to power all of that, yet if you removed the little ‘e’ badge from the rear, you wouldn’t know that it’s a hybrid. This technology has however improved so much since the introduction of the i8 that it goes unnoticed.
Here’s how it works. Underneath the bonnet lies a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 190kW/400Nm, assisted by a 70kW/250Nm electric motor for a total output of 240kW and an impressive 600Nm. All of this power is managed by BMW’s intelligent energy management system that co-ordinates the interaction of all drive components in order to combine the best possible efficiency, as well as driving dynamics.
The car, as with many other BMW’s, features various driving modes. Eco Pro makes full use of the economic abilities as well as eDrive which gives the driver various options for the battery. Other modes like Sport and Sport+ use regenerative energy from braking to charge the batteries, which in turn boosts engine performance.
After spending time with both cars, I can say that the hybrid impressed me the most. It offers the same luxury and technology as its petrol sibling with a pinch of environmental concern.
Sure you need to keep the batteries charged to get the best out of it, but I found that with a full charge, I was able to get to the office, the shops and home again because it gives about 40km worth of range on a single charge. What’s more, the 740e can also run on battery power alone at speeds up to 130 km/h.
The big question is does it work here in South Africa. Yes and no is the answer; yes in the sense if your daily commute is less than 40 km, and no if you plan on using the 740e over and above this. As impressive as this technology is though, I would still opt for the 730d as the best of both worlds.