BMW 740Li Pure Excellence Design: Seventh Wonder

When I first laid eyes on the new BMW G11 7-Series at an exclusive launch event, I had a mix of emotions rush through me. Now, this looked vaguely similar to the old F02, but yet feels a whole lot better. So how do we actually rate it?

It’s with these questions in my mind that I pondered upon when I had the opportunity to enjoy the car for a couple of days. After all, the local dealer pulled off such a successful marketing campaign branding it as the new king of the road, but critics across claimed its overrating and similarity to its predecessor.

But does it really live up to what was marketed across?

It does feel its size, honestly.

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Having lost count of the number of wheels I’ve gotten behind, I dare say some of them feel smaller than they look. But the new 7-Series didn’t give me that impression. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t intimidate me, but rather, provided me with a sensation of awe and grandeur as I steered this 5.2 metre long limousine along the streets.

Unlike other marques who implemented complete makeovers of their successors, the 7-Series adopted much of its Bavarian styling, with the BMW’s signature kidney grille facade and an improved daytime-running light design, first introduced on the F30 LCI 3-Series.

The contours of the 7-Series have also been improved to enhance aerodynamics and boost visual appeal, allowing it to be seen as one smooth curve from bonnet to boot. As per BMW’s tradition, I was thoroughly impressed with their attention to detail on the car, from the aerodynamic fins on the wing mirrors to the carefully crafted door handles.

My test car was the “Pure Excellence” variant, meaning to say I got to enjoy extra bits of chrome plating on the radiator grille, front air intakes, as well as the rear bumpers. And as sporty as BMW would like to portray its cars, the 7-Series does well with a well-complimented multi-spoke 19″ rims, leaving the more aggressive rims to its M-Sport variant.

It’s a tech fest inside

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I love my cars piled with gadgets. In fact, the more the merrier.

Which is the 7-Series wowed me when I slid into the driver’s seat.

From ambient lighting to touch sensitive controls and gesture sensors, the features in this 7-Series indeed satisfied the tech geek in me. The interior is nicely laid out, retaining the traditional BMW’s arrangements of their controls, but yet introducing a new and refreshing outlook to what you will be staring at behind the wheel.

Stepping inside the car, I was greeted by a personalised message with my name, complemented with mood lighting that you can actually pre-set via the iDrive system. Space and legroom will definitely not be at the top of your complaint list, when the Nappa-leather wrapped seats curl you up comfortably.

My test variant came with the optional “Design Pure Excellence” package, which includes standard massaging functions on both the front and rear seats (less the centre seat at the rear). Not the best of massages I’ve had, but hey, I’m not complaining.

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The package also includes a moonroof at the rear to allow for passengers to stargaze (I presume), as well as an infotainment tablet at the centre rear armrest, practically allowing you to control every feature in the car (from seat adjustment to air conditioning, and even navigation and telecommunication functions)!

A first in BMW’s history, the improved iDrive system now comes with touchscreen capability, although most Bimmer drivers would honestly be more familiar with the rotary knob. To add to the cool factor of this car, the Bavarians have included a gesture sensor just aft of the gear lever, where waving your fingers could essentially adjust the audio volume, pick up and hang up calls, and even swipe through your iDrive menu.

How does it drive, then?

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Driving a BMW is always pleasurable, and I’ve always strongly agreed with its tagline of “Sheer Driving Pleasure”. The 7-Series did not disappoint.

Under the hood, the 740Li houses a 3.0 litre turbocharged plant putting out 326 horses and 450 Nm of torque. Not that most 7-Series drivers would yearn for massive torque under their feet, but it’s a good touch to allow you to pull away from the lights with minimal ease. Oh wait, we’re ahead of the pack from the lights?

Handling the car around tight corners was also relatively impressive as per BMW’s norm. The car gripped well and I didn’t experience much body roll even at high speeds around tight turns. Acceleration is promptly delivered when you depress the pedal, and this 1.84 tonne limousine would send you to the century mark in just 5.6 seconds.

But tone down and drive like a true tow-kay ride and you’ll indeed enjoy the comfort and luxury BMW offers. Transmission is seamless, thanks to BMW’s 8-speed Steptronic system.

With that much power under my foot, I inevitably got curious and decided to push the car a little further than what normal drivers would do. Sport mode didn’t disappoint me, and the car punched out a little more aggressiveness than its usual Comfort setting, with increased throttle response and steering weight.

Sport Plus was a gift though. No knee-jerks acceleration but it handled perfectly how I wanted the car to be – precise, sharp, and confidently aggressive. Not that you’d use Sport Plus on a daily basis, or rather, hardly though.

I don’t have much to complain about in this 7, but if there’s something I’m forced to pick out, I thought the level of luxury and comfort provided didn’t quite match up to its competitor (you know, the star one?)

So, is it worth its price?

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The million dollar question here would be: why would I buy this over any other competitors’ flagship?

True enough, the competitors offer various aspects of driving and aesthetics that I felt the 7 loses out on, largely on the comfort of the ride at the rear, and probably a little on sleek aesthetics.

But it’s not everyday that you get to ride in, or handle something that’s so nicely packaged together, drives extremely well, and provides you with an almost-on-par level of comfort you would expect from a S$450,000 price tag.

Its state of the art technology and engineering leaves much to be awed at, and in this aspect, the 7 might just have a lead over its competitors.

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