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First drive: 2019 BMW 7 Series. Image by BMW.

First drive: 2019 BMW 7 Series
Ignore the huge grille and instead focus on how brilliant the updated BMW 7 Series luxury saloon is.

 



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2019 BMW 7 Series

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

It's LCI (Life Cycle Impulse - what BMW calls its facelifts) time for the sixth-gen BMW 7 Series luxury saloon, and what a facelift it is. Everyone's talking about the huge kidney radiator grille, which apparently is the result of buyers' preference to give the 7 Series a unique look and more presence, but there's more to the update than a new nose. We tested two versions, the 750i and possibly the most important car in the line-up, the new 745e plug-in hybrid. Still want that Mercedes S-Class?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport
Pricing: 83,560 as tested; starts at 69,430 on-the-road
Hybrid system: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol engine, 113hp electric motor/generator, 12kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive (also available with rear-wheel drive)
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 59g/km (VED Band 51-75: 25 in year one, 450 a year thereafter)
Combined economy: 108.6mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Maximum system power: 394hp
Maximum system torque: 600Nm
Boot space: 420 litres

Model tested: BMW 750Li xDrive
Pricing: 750i sold purely as 750i xDrive (in regular length) in UK, at 83,835 on-the-road
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 217g/km (VED Band 191-22: 1,280 in year one, 450 a year thereafter)
Combined economy: 25.7mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
Power: 530hp at 5,500-6,000rpm
Torque: 750Nm at 1,800-4,600rpm
Boot space: 515 litres

What's this?

Quite obviously, a facelifted BMW 7 Series. The much-discussed radiator grille is flanked by slim new LED lights with the 'BMW Icon' design (or laser lights if you are willing to pay for the privilege) and there's a super-sized BMW badge above all that, sitting proud atop a raised and restyled bonnet. The bumpers front and back are new (and more pronounced in M Sport guise), the 'Air Breathers' behind the front wheels are now more upright in appearance, there are new colours and wheel designs and the new rear lights are both more complex in shape and smaller. Between them, the chrome strip is reduced in height to make way for a red LED daytime running lamp joining the two clusters. Oh, and the exhaust outlets are bigger than before.

Inside, BMW stopped short of adopting the new gear lever and iDrive controls as found on its X7 and 8 Series, but the updated 7 Series does get BMW Operating System 7.0 and BMW Live Cockpit Professional with a 12.3-inch screen in place of traditional instruments in front of the driver and a 10.25-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard. There's excellent voice control and less-useful gesture control, too. Other than that, BMW has added a tactile ceramic coating to its switchgear and a little more connectivity and safety technology behind the scenes.

Rear passengers benefit from improved sound insulation and, depending on options, a much-improved entertainment system.

As before, there are regular and long wheelbase body styles to choose from, the latter denoted by an 'L' in the name. The UK range kicks off at 69,430 on-the-road for the BMW 730d, which can be had with rear-drive or xDrive in regular wheelbase or just with rear-drive for the long body. Key figures include 265hp, 620Nm of torque, 0-62mph in as low as 6.1 seconds, 138-143g/km and 39.2-44.1mpg. The 740d (always paired with xDrive, though available in both body lengths) starts at 77,210. Its vital stats are 320hp, 680Nm, 0-62mph from 5.3 seconds, 148-149g/km and 38.2-41.5mpg.

Three petrol-only models are offered. The 740i (or 740Li - 340hp, 450Nm, 5.5 seconds, 161-164g/km, 31.0-34.0mpg, from 71,720), the 750i xDrive tested here and the hilarious M760Li xDrive. The latter is unchanged from before the facelift, but it's worth repeating the numbers its twin-turbocharged 6.6-litre V12 engine endow the 7 Series with: 585hp, 860Nm and 3.8 seconds 0-62mph. It's best not to dwell on its emissions and fuel economy figures, nor on its 138,935 asking price...

That leaves the plug-in hybrid variant, now badged 745e, or 745Le xDrive when paired with the long wheelbase and four-wheel drive. Replacing the BMW 740e, this new plug-in hybrid model ditches the four-cylinder turbo petrol engine in return for a far sexier six-cylinder unit. That and an improved battery mean more power and an increased electric range.

How does it drive?

With air suspension and adaptive damping as standard, the driving personality of the BMW 7 Series can be altered at the touch of a button. It's fabulously comfortable and soothing when you want it to be and it can also play the sports saloon with real poise if you feel in the mood. The 750i feels downright frisky thanks to the same powerplant as found in the BMW M850i, though it's always quieter and more civilised than that car. It's nearly as fast though, in the corners and on the straights if you're willing to suspend your doubts about throwing a large saloon such as the 7 Series around. The brakes even cope admirably with such shenanigans.

The 745e isn't quite as agile thanks to its extra weight, but it still puts in a good showing on the road, and of course it comes with the bonus of almost-silent electric running for over 30 miles on a full battery. Even when its six-cylinder engine does kick in, it's never intrusive or uncouth. And as ever, the eight-speed automatic gearbox is a gem, allowing fully automatic shifting or fully manual if you so desire. Make sure you go for the Integral Active Steering (four-wheel steering in BMW-speak) no matter which model you're ordering, as it enhances stability at high speed, makes even the long-wheelbase 7 Series feel agile in tight corners and helps with parking.

Verdict

If BMW's intention was for the new 7 Series to stand out, then it certainly has achieved that. At the same time, its luxury car attributes have been gently enhanced, while retaining the core dynamic ability. Few other manufacturers offer so much choice in their luxury saloon ranges and BMW's new PHEV powertrain is peachy - potentially usurping the diesel models as the best option in the line-up.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 2 Apr 2019









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2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.

2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.2019 BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport. Image by BMW.








 

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