BMW 740i Review

By: Chris Fincham

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Driven: BMW 740i Driven: BMW 740i Driven: BMW 740i
Driven: BMW 740i Driven: BMW 740i Driven: BMW 740i
Driven: BMW 740i Driven: BMW 740i Driven: BMW 740i

Tech-heads will love the latest 7 Series...

BMW 740i Review
Driven: BMW 740i
 

BMW 740i

As BMW’s flagship model, the 7 Series has introduced a number of ‘firsts’ over the years, including the electronic speedo, standard six-speed auto and iDrive controller.

The manufacturer’s fifth-generation, big luxury sedan continues this trend, with a range of options that often make you feel you’re driving a giant, all-seeing computer on wheels.

Just some of the techno-gadgets available – or ‘Driver Assistant’ aids as BMW calls them – include Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, Lane Change and Lane Departure warning, and a Side View camera that ‘peers’ around objects at intersections to inform the driver via an interior screen of any oncoming traffic.

While some of these aids are quite useful in busy traffic, like Side Vision, others, like Speed Limit Detection, which monitors speed limit signs and is currently being calibrated for use in Australia, probably appeal more to gearheads than the majority of alert, capable drivers.

But while an undisputed techno tour de force, the latest 7 Series also impresses as a driver’s car.

It’s unsurpassed for comfort and refinement as a long-distance tourer while remarkably capable for a big car in high-speed corners.

BMW has kept weight down on the big four-door with copious use of aluminium, but it still comes in at 1860kg. However, the twin-turbo, straight six petrol engine fitted in the 740i, makes light work of the sedan’s bulk.

With 240kW and 450Nm available from as early as 1500rpm, and a slick, six-speed auto, the car catapults from standstill to 100km/h in under six seconds and feels very much the sports sedan in the process.

It also handles much like a smaller car in corners, partially thanks to a range of suspension tuning options that can be adjusted on the move. In ‘Sport’ or ‘Sport Plus’ modes, body roll is significantly reduced, while steering, throttle response and gear changes are more responsive.

Switch to ‘Comfort’ for the freeway or around town and it transforms to a magic carpet ride, allowing occupants to fully enjoy the well-appointed, whisper quiet and luxurious interior.

While the performance driving experience has been enhanced, cars like the 740i are as much about the back seats as the front. Surprisingly, though, there’s not as much leg and headroom as you’d expect in the two rear seats (the longer wheelbase ‘Li’ is more spacious), but individual pampering is not unlike a first-class airline seat, depending on what option boxes you tick, of course.

If your chauffer wants more grunt, the much more expensive V8-engined 750i is available (the 730d turbo diesel arrives in June). But after sampling the V8, I preferred the relaxed, eager performance of the smooth twin-turbo six, which better suits the car’s limousine status.

Driving a car like the 740i gives you a glimpse of what cars of the future will be like – now – and in many cases futuristic ‘driver’s aids’ can and may save lives.

But can you imagine the stratospheric repair bills following a prang, after various cameras and other sophisticated components are replaced? You might need driver aid after that to revive you!

 

SPECIFICATIONS 

2009 BMW 740i

 

Body: four-door sedan

Weight: 1860kg

Drivetrain: front eng, RWD

Engine: 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, twin turbo

Power/torque: 240kW @ 5800rpm/ 450Nm @ 1500-4500rpm

Transmission: six-spd auto

Performance: 0-100km/h – 5.9secs. Top speed – 250km/h

Price: $203,000

 

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