Cars mean different things to different people. To most owners, they are a form of transport to get you from point-to-point. For them, there is no point thinking of a car as anything more than a machine.
To enthusiasts, a car is a living being. It ‘talks’, ‘communicates’ and requires just as much TLC as a family member. For others, a car can also be a status symbol or a reward for one’s hard work.
But to a few, a car can be even more special. It can be a fantasy on wheels, a world to lose yourself in. Sounds whimsical, but behind the wheel of the new 7 Series, that’s exactly what happens.
First impressions are almost always visual and what we see sets our expectations of the experience to come. Walking up to the 735i was a surreal and intimidating experience.
The limousine may still have the trademark kidney grilles, but these are much larger than before. Coupled with those slim LED head lights, the car’s face is like a cyborg’s. It also looks angry.
A previous-generation 7 Series parked beside this one will look small, for the new limousine absolutely dwarfs it. Measuring 5,391mm long and 1,544mm tall, the latest flagship is 153mm longer and 59mm taller than before. It’s 48mm wider as well.
But put aside the looks and dimensions and when you look closer, interesting details emerge. Those head lights for instance, have Swarovski crystals inside, allowing them to sparkle when they’re illuminated.
The 7 Series can be specified with optional two-tone paintwork as well, which adds about $36,000 to the price tag. Utilising the same painting technology employed by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, eight two-tone variations (four with a grey roof and four with a black one) are offered.
Further adding to its kerbside appeal are the automatic doors. This feature, which is found in some MPVs, and taxis in Japan, seems unnecessary at first. But once you’ve tried it a few times, not having this will feel like a downer.
As I get behind the wheel of the 735i, my mind begins to wander. For the next few days, I’m no longer a writer or editor; in this luxurious tech-lounge, I am a company CEO.
THE BELLS AND WHISTLES
‘Futuristic’ is one way to describe the 7 Series’ spaceship-like cockpit. In line with modern trends, the number of buttons here has been minimised.
Apart from the few on the two-spoke steering wheel and centre console, all menus and functions, including those for the climate, are found in the infotainment.
Located below the Curved Display is the cool-looking Interaction Bar, which plays the role of control panel, decorative element and ambient light.
The highlight of the cockpit is the Curved Display that neatly houses the 12.3-inch information display (instrument panel) and 14.9-inch control display (infotainment screen), along with BMW’s latest Head-Up display.
Collectively, they transform the interior into a high-tech space that even Tony Stark would find interesting.
Ensconced in plush surroundings, I indulge in my fantasy. Work and those stories I’m working on seem so far away, and the only story I’m interested in is the one where I’m a well-heeled head honcho.
Numerous settings are at my fingertips, but the important ones are for the seat massage and ventilation, and ambient lighting. If I choose to, I can also close the blinds for the rear windows to create a more relaxed atmosphere.
This test unit, though, has the optional Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof, so leaving this uncovered on a clear night is a must. However, enjoying the evening sky is only possible if I’m being chauffeured.
Indeed, the best seat in this house is in the rear, where I can recline the seat and stretch my legs. At the same time, controls for the climate, music and blinds remain at my fingertips, courtesy of those little touchscreens on the doors. This is surely the finest way of getting to and from the office.
SWIFT AND SEAMLESS
Being chauffeured in this car is but a dream, for in reality, I need to drive myself. Even then, there’s not much to complain about when it comes to piloting the 7 Series.
This, first and foremost, is a luxo-barge. It’s a BMW, but it’s a land yacht, and expecting it to handle like a 2 Series Coupe is just silly. That said, ‘sailing’ this sizeable limousine is actually easier than anticipated.
The bonnet is long and high, and the blind spots seem daunting at first. However, there’s an entire suite of ‘executive assistants’ to help ensure that no harm comes to the car or its occupants.
Numerous cameras can give you a 360-degree view of the vehicle while you’re parking, Reversing Assistant can get you out of tight spots, and Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go makes driving in traffic less stressful.
Stress and anxiety, however, are the last things you’ll feel in the 735i, for the cabin is an oasis of both calm and silence. Road noise? That only intrudes on rougher surfaces. Undulations? A little bit, but hardly enough to disturb you. Sounds from pedestrians and other vehicles? Barely. I can’t even hear the wipers.
In this sanctuary, a 40-minute drive during the evening rush hour and in a constant downpour, was one of the most relaxing experiences in recent memory. Both the raindrops and splashes from the puddles were muffled.
Well-insulated, I was unconcerned with the outside world. The quietness let me enjoy my favourite tunes and from time to time, the purr of the turbocharged 3-litre straight-6 engine. Capable of 268hp and 425Nm, the silky motor propels this 2.2-tonne limo from a standstill to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds.
These figures don’t match Mercedes’ S450L, which has 362hp and 500Nm, and does the same sprint in 5.1 seconds. But for the office commute, they are more than adequate. As a bonus, it’s possible to stretch the engine without immediately doing ridiculous speeds.
That said, the 7 Series’ rear-wheel steering could be more seamless. When ascending multi-storey carparks, the rear end waddles as you straighten the steering wheel after making a turn. I’m not sure if the system is reacting too quickly or too slowly, but it should be better.
HEART OF THE MATTER
Low- and high-speed turns are not be the specialty of the 7 Series, but that’s like saying an M4 Coupe is noisy and lacks refinement.
Neither the 735i or the more powerful i7 were meant to handle like sports cars. They exist to cosset drivers and occupants alike. At the same time, the 7 Series presents its tech arsenal to drivers with surprising pizzazz. It makes an Audi A8L look sombre.
To most buyers, the latest 7 Series is a palatial limousine brimming with the latest gadgets. It should satisfy those seeking a luxury saloon that reflects their personality, status and achievements.
A select few, though, will see the 7 Series as something more. As technology evolves, the toys in this limousine will eventually become outdated. But as a fantasy on wheels and a world to lose yourself in? That never gets old.
This story was first published on Sgcarmart.
BMW 735i Pure Excellence 3.0 (A)
ENGINE 2998cc, inline-6, 24-valves, turbocharged
MAX POWER 268hp at 5000-6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 425Nm at 1600-4500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 131.2hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 6.7 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h
CONSUMPTION 12.7km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $637,888
AGENTS Performance Motors Limited, Eurokars Auto