Review: G12 BMW 7 Series 740Le xDrive
When you reach a point in life where you can purchase a vehicle for more than half-a-million Ringgit, it is no longer just about getting from point A to point B. Every now and then, you have to do it in style and also make a statement that you’ve made it in life.
And speaking of making a statement, not many vehicles out there can come close to what can be achieved by this car here – the new G12 BMW 7 Series.
Well, the G12 is not exactly brand new, as it has been slightly more than a year since it made its Malaysian debut in the sole form of the 740Le xDrive with an asking price of RM598,800.
Thanks to the ongoing SST exemption which is expected to last until June 2021, the 7 Series is currently priced at an interesting RM569,052 on the road without insurance, which is about RM23,000 cheaper compared to its main rival – the Mercedes-Benz S560e that is priced at RM646,625 on the road without insurance, minus SST. Both cars are assembled locally by the way.
In case you’re wondering what else you will get as an owner, there is the five-year unlimited mileage warranty with free scheduled service programme, a two-year tyre warranty programme, BMW Roadside Assistance, BMW Service Online, as well as the BMW White Card program with Loyalty+ Mobile App access.
So, the main highlight of the G12 BMW 7 Series here is without a doubt, the face of the car itself. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the world stopped for a second and went “what the…” when the car’s grille was revealed.
Compared to the pre-facelift model, the kidney grille is 40% larger than before, and to make it even more striking, BMW made the headlights 30% slimmer. Now, there are two reasons why BMW went berserk with the 7-Series’ grille.
Firstly, unlike Mercedes-Benz’s sedans which all look alike when seen from a distance, BMW wanted the 7-Series to clearly stand out from the 3-Series and also the 5-Series.
We think that BMW absolutely nailed it with this one, as you’ll be able to tell that it’s a 7-Series even if you spot it from another planet.
The second reason is actually China, the country in which the most number of 7 Series are sold in the world (41% of global sales). We were told that there was a demand for a grille that is even bigger and wider, and a face that would intimidate people with other cars, especially the S-Class.
The grille aside, the BMW emblem on the hood is noticeably larger than before, the air breathers on the side are more upright, the taillights are new and slimmer, and there is a new LED light bar that runs across the rear, giving the 7 Series a much more stylish and elegant outlook.
While the BMW 7 Series is available in M Performance and Luxury Line trims globally, the Malaysian market only gets the latter (disguised as the Design Pure Excellence package) as the Datuks and Taukays here prefer things to be more luxurious and less sporty.
Overall, what we have here is a car that is designed to be either loved or hated; there is no in-between. While we absolutely love the monstrous grille, many are still having nightmares about it.
So, in terms of design, if you want things to be low-key and subtle, you may want to look the S-Class’ way, but if you want everyone to stop and turn towards you when you arrive, this is it.
Moving inside, the list of new features includes BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional system that comes with a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, and a 12.3-inch central primary display that comprises the latest BMW Operating System 7.0, BMW Navigation System Pro, and the BMW Connected Package Pro systems.
Also new is the redesigned iDrive controller, the steering wheel, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant that supports voice command and hand gestures, the Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof, the BMW Display Key, as well as the Harman Kardon 16-speaker premium audio system.
Other highlights include the rear entertainment system with two 10-inch display screens that are larger than before, a Samsung tablet to control the infotainment system from the rear seats, massage function in the rear, and a generous dose of Nappa leather upholstery.
From the driver’s seat, what we love the most about the 7 Series is that it doesn’t feel like we’re driving a big car. Thanks to the good visibility, ergonomically positioned controls, the user friendly infotainment system, comfortable yet supportive seats, and the surprisingly sharp and responsive ride, we got used to the car and got comfortable in it in no time.
Plus, there were cameras and sensors all around the car to help us manoeuvre the behemoth through tight spots and parking lots with ease.
If we are to compare the 7’s interior with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, it is safe to say that the 7 Series is superior in terms of driving dynamics, but when it comes to comfort and refinement, there is still some catching up to do with the S.
But that does not mean that the 7 Series is not an enjoyable car to be in. All you need to do is wait for the sun to go down, get into the rear seats, turn on the ambient lights, the Sky Lounge lights, whatever light that you can turn on, and let the Harman Kardon audio system do its thing – the car literally transforms into a club on wheels, and makes you forget all the problems in life for a brief moment.
What we didn’t like, however, was the fact that we could occasionally hear the wind and the road while being on the move, especially at higher speeds. But as long as we stayed within the speed limits, the cabin was super quiet.
Speaking of speeds, moving the 740Le here is a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol engine that replaces the previous 2.0-litre 4-cylinder mill. Paired to an 8-speed Steptronic gearbox, the new engine produces 286 PS and 450 Nm of torque, which is 28 PS and 50 Nm more than before.
But that’s not all as there is a new and more powerful electric motor that produces 113 PS and 265 Nm of torque in the mix. Together, the engine and the motor deliver a total of 394 PS and 600 Nm of torque, which is 58 PS and 100 Nm more than the version before this.
Sending the power to all four wheels is BMW’s xDrive AWD system which comes as standard. Also new is the 12 kWh lithium-ion battery that takes the place of the previous 9.2 kWh unit, which can be charged in just under five hours using BMW’s optional i Wallbox charger.
There are five driving modes to choose from – Sport, Hybrid, Electric, Adaptive, and Battery Control. While Sport and Electric modes are pretty much self-explanatory, Hybrid is the standard mode upon start-up which gives the best of both worlds, but with minimum fuel usage as the priority.
Adaptive mode on the other hand adapts to the current driving style, while Battery Control mode reserves a certain amount of battery charge which is pre-determined by the driver to be used in the near future – to sneak out of the house at night, for example.
Throughout our stint with the car, we were mostly in Hybrid mode, cruising, enjoying the comfort and plushness of the 7 Series. We did try out the Sports mode which unleashes the full potential of the engine, but it just didn’t feel right.
Despite its size, the 7 Series is anything but slow. The fact that it can sprint from naught to 100 in under six seconds, which is as quick as cars that are much smaller like the M135i, Mercedes-AMG A35, and the Porsche Cayman, shows just how quick the limousine can be if it wants to.
In a nutshell, the 7 Series may be just a “facelift” but the amount of updates that has gone into the car is quite extensive. The new and aggressive front fascia, the juicier engine, the more capable electric motor and battery, and all the new tech that have been integrated into the car is almost on par with what we get in some cars that have gone through a full model-change, making it feel as new as any other new BMW model in the stable.
So, if you’re someone who lives by the adage “go big or go home”, the new 7 Series 740Le is what you should get your hands on.
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