BMW’s updated 7 Series is tough to love at first, but take the time to know it, and you’ll discover a true gem indeed
Photos: Ben Chia & Eric Tan
Buying a car is a bit like getting into a relationship. For some people, it is love at first sight. They know what they want, they commit to it and sign on the dotted line, and they live happily ever after. If they’re really in love they may even choose to renew their vows (or COE) every ten years or so.
But for others, like me, they may need a bit more time to get to know each other. Take this updated BMW 740Li for example. Like in every relationship, there are things that you like, and things that you don’t. And for the 7, there were a few things about it that made it hard for me to warm up to it at first.
For example, I don’t mean to ‘fat-shame’, but I wasn’t that enthused about the 7’s size. This long-wheelbase version (the ‘L’ in 740Li) in particular has grown by some 23mm in length over the previous version, despite it being only a facelift (or LCI, in BMW-speak). That means the car’s length is now a pretty sizeable 5,260mm, making it a bit tricky to manoeuvre. It also struggles to fit into many standard sized parking lots, and the 7 very often sticks its nose or tail out uncomfortably out of the lot.
It’s a good thing then that the 7 comes with a myriad of cameras and sensors to help this giant negotiate tight carparks. Frankly, without them, as well as the Parking Assistant system, the 7 would have been quite the monster to drive in urban Singapore.
Then there’s that controversial new nose job. Yes, that massive grille is quite imposing, but truth be told, you kinda get used to it after a while. Besides, you won’t get to see it when you’re behind the wheel anyway, so it’s not exactly the worst problem in the world.
On the go, the 7 has a strangely unsettled ride, which is a surprise for a limousine like this. It’s supposed to soothe and comfort you in that caring, comforting manner, but it seems to be overdoing it a tad. The car wafts and willows about in a floaty manner, almost like a boat at sea, and it feels like the suspension control could be better managed.
After spending a bit more time with the 7 over the weekend however, I started to see the positives. For one, this car is pretty fun to drive, despite its sizeable girth. It feels light and nimble, and it takes on winding roads with the agility of a well-trained ballet dancer. There’s something magical about driving a 5-metre long limousine up and down South Buona Vista Road and not feeling like you’re piloting a lorry, and it certainly brought a smile to my face.
But even when you’re not playing around with it, the 7 impresses in other areas too. The 740Li version here has a 3.0-litre inline six with 340hp, and increase of 15hp from before. It’s not a noticeable change, but it is still does pretty well in moving you along in that typical luxe limo style: smooth, unwavering and effective. The car surges to close up gaps in traffic in that effortless manner that only a well-engineered luxury car could.
Truth be told though, the 7 Series is more of a passenger’s car than a driver’s car, with whoever’s lucky enough to sit in the back getting to enjoy most of the spoils that this car can offer. From the soft Nappa leather upholstery, to the virtually limitless legroom, sitting in the back of the 7 is an indulgence akin to flying business class in a proper full-service airline, minus the stewardess service of course.
Even then, there’s still plenty to play with for those seated up front. Being the flagship of the BMW range, the 7 Series most certainly comes with plenty of toys to make the experience feel even more special. A lot of the features have already been seen on recent BMW models like the new 3 Series, but it’s still worth mentioning the upgraded iDrive system with new 10.25-inch touchscreen display, along with the digital instrument cluster. There’s also BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, aka Siri for your car, for that extra personal touch.
Frankly speaking, the positives do outnumber the negatives when it comes to the 7 Series. It’s just that it takes a while for them to shine through. Sometimes, all you need is a bit of patience, and you’ll might just uncover a hidden gem. The 7 proves that the real good stuff are very often lurking beneath an unassuming cloak, so it’s probably worth taking the time to get to know it better before committing.
BMW 740Li Pure Excellence
2,998cc, inline 6, turbocharged
340hp at 5500-6500rpm
450Nm at 1500-5200rpm
|VES Band / CO2||
C1 / 180g/km
Performance Motors Limited
S$476,888 with COE
Verdict: Updated 7 Series grows in size and presence, but remains a compelling choice for the luxe-seeking CEO