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Road test: BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.

Road test: BMW 740Ld xDrive
Do you need the extra punch of the BMW 740Ld? Probably not, but it's nice to have it.

 



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BMW 740Ld xDrive

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: performance, traction, sumptuous cabin, neat handling, sensational air suspension ride.

Not so good: long-wheelbase styling a bit suspect, pricey in this spec, 730d does pretty much everything as well.

Key Facts

Model tested: BMW 740Ld xDrive
Price: starts from 63,530; 740Ld xDrive from 76,010; car as tested 100,130
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six diesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 137/km (VED Band E, 130 annually, if registered before April 1, 2017; 200 first 12 months, 450 next five years, then 140 annually thereafter, if registered post-April 1, 2017)
Combined economy: 54.3mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Power: 320hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 680Nm at 1,750- to 2,500rpm

Our view:

Having already driven the fabulous sixth-generation BMW 7 Series in 730d, 750Li xDrive and 740e iPerformance guises, it's fair to say we think it's the class leader. And that's some accolade, because in this particular class there's the hulking, ever-dominant presence that is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class - long considered, by many with an interest in all things automotive, the best car in the world. But the Seven's blend of handsome looks, a fantastic interior, silky ride quality and that traditional pinch of Munich road-holding magic makes it the luxury executive we'd be heading straight for if we ran our own multinational conglomerate.

In principle, then, adding more power to one of our favourite variants - the 730d - should really only be a Very Good Thing. The 740-badged diesel Beemer gets an additional 55hp and 60Nm from the same forced induction 3.0-litre straight-six as used in the 730d, with one solitary additional twin-scroll turbo compared to the 265hp model accounting for the output hikes. If you want more power from a diesel Seven, you'll need the quad-turbo 750d, although that car only climbs 80hp and 80Nm over the 740Ld... and the 750d isn't yet on sale here, either. Damn.

So we won't go into huge detail about the looks or interior of the 740Ld xDrive we're testing here, because we've been over this ground before - we'll try and precis by saying we haven't changed our opinion that the 7 Series is a good-looking but not stunning thing to behold, and that we prefer the short-wheelbase body over this LWB motor, which has a bulky midriff when viewed in profile. Or that the interior is simply magnificent - proper captains of industry might demand the gargantuan rear passenger space offered by the 740Ld, but you'd be just as happy in the shorter Seven (it's also 3,950 cheaper as a bonus) because it's still huge within. Quick note: our test car had a scary 24,120-worth of cost options, in the process transforming it into a six-figure machine. Massive cash, naturally, but the 740Ld xDrive never once felt overpriced for the 100,130 sum, because it is the epitome of sheer luxury and nothing for similar money is appreciably more opulent.

What we really want to know is whether the extra performance of the 740Ld is worth the premium over the 730d. And that's a tougher query to answer, because the only direct comparison you can make is with the four-wheel drive short-wheelbase versions of both. BMW does a 730d and a 730Ld, but they're rear-wheel drive only, while this 740Ld has to have torque going to both axles; there is no RWD option. So, a 730d xDrive is 4,800 less than a 740d xDrive. And while we absolutely adore the 320hp/680Nm variant of the turbodiesel, it's not enough to have us recommending you step up from the 730d.

There's no doubting the performance of the 740Ld xDrive is more than anyone could possibly want or need from a black-pump limo, even in a day and age where hot hatches can do 174mph and more. It shunts instantly into hyperdrive if you're already on the move and you so much as feather the throttle, while the four-wheel drive and the Seven's Carbon Core weight-saving programme means the 680Nm makes short work of stepping the 1,910kg mass of the 740Ld off the line. The eight-speed Sport auto gearbox is a peach, the body control is first-rate, the steering is... very good, if not BMW's finest hour, and the brakes bite cleanly and strongly every single time.

It also still has the absolutely superb air-suspended ride of all the current Sevens and thus it floats along any road surface you care to choose in the most cosseting, remarkable fashion that makes you wish you could justify running a flagship BMW as a daily driver. It's all fantastic and another really strong addition to the G11/G12 7 Series line-up.

But given it's 7,530 more expensive than the priciest 730 (that'll be the RWD Ld), we don't think the 740Ld offers enough to justify the inflated price tag. Talking of such economies on machines that are bought by people with so much disposable income in the first place might seem daft, but there it is - that 7,530 would pay for quite a lot of the desirable extras that were fitted to this test 740Ld, and of course the 730Ld feels just as quick in most situations and it's a tiny bit better on fuel as a sweetener (the 740Ld averaged considerably less than 30mpg during our time with it - 28.2mpg, if you must know - albeit it never went on a long run to improve its figures).

By all means, if you get a chance to drive a 740Ld xDrive, then take it because it's a mighty machine, one that's brilliant in all conceivable situations. Use the Remote Control Parking (part of an 1,100 package on this car) or the Gesture Control (160) and you can wow people with its sci-fi technology... but then all Sevens can be fitted with this stuff. Therefore, we'd advocate the 'lesser' 730 diesel as being the better choice - unless you really want to load up on the tech factor, in which case our personal favourite Seven of the moment will be the one you need to select: the 740Le xDrive iPerformance plug-in hybrid. Still, it's nice to have so much 7 Series choice, eh?

Alternatives:

Audi A8 L: ageing and due for replacement this year, the A8 is still a handsome machine, but the BMW has by far the more impressive interior, while its drivetrain is in another league.

Jaguar XJ LWB: also old, although the Jag was facelifted in 2016 in an effort to keep it going. Like the BMW, one of the sharper driving cars in the segment, but lacks a little in the way of tech.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class LWB: ultra-efficient, tech-savvy big saloon that has been the benchmark in this class for decades. Still magnificent now, yet we maintain the 7 Series is currently the better car.


Matt Robinson - 20 Jan 2017









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2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.

2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.2016 BMW 740Ld xDrive. Image by Matt Robinson.








 

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