2014 BMW 7 series (730Ld) review by Team AutoColumn.
There are times when you wonder what you are doing with your life and then comes along a phone call asking whether you will able to review the BMW 7 series. The added bonus was that it was in the capital city which boasts of some of the best roads in the country and i had a car worthy of those roads or rather, roads worthy of such a car.
The round headlamps, Corona Rings, according to BMW are to a 7 series what Brad Pitt is to Hollywood. The long bonnet has contour lines which point towards the signature kidney grille and are very 7 series-ish. The kidney grille itself is larger and has more chrome than before even though the number of slats has reduced to 9 from 12. BMW is clearly very proud of its new grille with nearly every page of the press kit having a mention of the reduced the number of slats. In the front it also has two vertical intakes at the corners which are a part of the “air curtain” which reduce fuel consumption at higher speeds.
From the side nothing has changes apart from an added pair of indicators integrated into the mirrors. The short front overhang and the sloping roofline are typically BMW but match better to this car than the others. We have now gotten used to seeing the 7 series on road so the long wheelbase doesn`t strike you that hard. At the back, the L shaped taillights are connected with a chrome strip with reverse lights integrated in it. Another chrome strip runs across the bumper and makes the car seem wider than it actually is, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
The interior of the 7 series is like a tranquil place to be in. The attention to detail is very evident as you would expect when you pay so much for a form of transportation. But this is not just a form of transportation, it is stylish, unabashedly loud and has a very “look at me” vibe about it but amidst this it does not compromise on quality. The ivory white Dakota leather is good to touch and has a very luxurious soft feel about it. The door handles and other forms inside the car merge into each other very smoothly and exquisite materials used add to the overall 5 star appeal of the car. Neither once did the leather feel sweaty or uncomfortable even when Delhi was sweltering at 47 degrees.
The rear seat space is impeccable to the core. The rear seats recline and have massage and a memory function as well. The massage is bit soft though whereas you need a bit rough massage to actually feel a difference when you get out of the car. The way the car pampers the rear passenger is akin to an overprotecting mother taking care of her child. Too much sun or want to reach a place without attracting paparazzi? Put up the blinds with a press of a button and keep them guessing. Felling a bit hot? Adjust any one of the many ac vents to your choice and enjoy the wind in your face. Busy business man who wants to maximize his time? Open up the folding table to work on your laptop (This takes quite a lot of effort though.) Want some entertainment? Flick on the 9.2-inch screens to watch a movie or enjoy your favourite music. Need to cool down with a drink? Open the armrest to use the fridge and pour yourself a refreshing drink.
The rear seats are split into two individual seats which can be tuned to your requirement. The seat position, backrest angle and headrest are all adjustable and very easy too. The controls for this are similar to the ones at the front. Both seats have individual AC controls between the two front seats and individual 3.5mm jack slots for your headphones as well.
The rear seat entertainment package is the automobile definition of heaven. The two screens have good clarity and are controlled from the iDrive controller on the armrest. The sound system plays staggeringly good music with both, low and high frequencies represented accurately. The two screens cater to your every need, be it movies, music, car settings etc. The petrol 7 series get a illuminated centre speaker on the dashboard which ensures good quality on every seat of the car. The sound proofing is reinforced with insulation materials in the B and C pillars, side skirts and the boot and filters out almost all of the noises, not the engine noise though. Added sealing around the window frames and mirrors keep the car very silent even when people honk unnecessarily at red signals.
The front seat bolsters are adequate but are very slow to be adjusted. Finding the perfect seat position is easy but getting the right combination of the bolsters, underthigh support and the added back support requires some time. Once you spend time on this it won’t you bother for the rest of your journey or for the next few months. The Ambient lighting has two settings and includes footwell lighting and B-pillar integrated lighting which illuminates the roof lining.
The car is aimed at the back seat passenger but i couldn’t resist getting behind the wheel and having a go at it. And once you get to play with the engine, i doubt you`ll ever feel the need to get up and sit at the back. In typical BMW style all the centre console controls are angled towards the driver with easy accessibility. The 730Ld boasts of the worlds fastest inline 6 cylinder diesel engine which overcomes the inertia and propels the massive car from 0-100 in just 6.2 seconds. Keep this in mind though, trying to match that figure will result in screams from the backseat and million dollar smile on the drivers face. BMW claims a fuel economy of 16.4kmpl but the maximum we could squeeze out of the 90ltr tank was 11kmpl.
The eight speed automatic gearbox, which was previously only available with the 760Li, is now standard across the 7 series range. The automatic gearbox works like a charm with no noticeable time between gears and always has power at the ready. A total of eight ratios mean that the individual range is smaller which makes the optimal ratio available at every speed. In manual mode, you feel much more in control but will often forget to shift down, so its better to be left alone.
The massive brakes put down your excitement on city roads pretty fast but once you get used to it, you enjoy the car much more. Being made of ceramic, they worked well even after continuous usage and heavy temperature. In bumper to bumper traffic the AutoHold function holds the brakes pressed for you and releases them on the slightest touch to the accelerator, a must for Delhi (or rather any Indian metro) traffic.
The electronic power steering was the surprise package of the lot. I expected it to be light and not so responsive, when in fact it is very responsive and helps you only when needed. Changing lanes at high speed on a highway is as simple as a point-and-shoot camera thanks to the electric motor in the steering system. Mid turn steering corrections are not required if you match the speed to the angle of turn even with so much mass ready to move out of line at the slightest provocation.
Selecting from one the following modes is fairly simple with the rocker on the console: ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+. The COMFORT mode proved to be the perfect companion to my late night drive to India Gate and Janpath. The car is very calm and subdued in all its factors in this mode and is perfect for the million dollar dealing person sitting on the rear seats. I unfortunately could not spend a lot of time with the SPORT or the SPORT+ mode but was mighty impressed with what i experienced in the little time available. It is like unleashing an angry, fiery dragon by poking it with hot sticks. Select this mode and the car suddenly adjusts itself for the amount of power on tap and boy does it deliver on the promised performance!! The dials get red surrounds and the power and torque dials on the centre screen turn really, really fast and makes your heart rate shoot to more than twice its normal rate. The acceleration is smooth but a few milliseconds in and the turbocharger growls, pins you and your passengers to your seats and shoots through like a bullet. Your eyes try to focus to the world outside the car and you decide whether to give it a bit more and enjoy or slow down and wait for a better opportunity.
On the excellent roads of the capital the car was a worthy choice. The few potholes or inundations in the road are easily flattened without a fuss. I would have liked the thud to be softer inside the cabin but it is forgivable. Mercedes decided not to go with the Magic Body Control for India in the S-Class; for the system would go crazy in Indian conditions but the Adaptive Air suspension system works flawlessly in the 7 series. Shifting from concrete to tar patches on a highway went unnoticed and hardly any of the passengers felt the white rumblers inside the car. The suspension was pretty stable and worked unassumingly even on high speed turns with very little but body roll.
I have a bone to pick with the automatic air conditioning system though. It works well to keep you cool without much manual intervention but the fan noise is a bit on the higher side even at lower fan speeds. The fan noise was the first thing i noted every single time i started the car. You have to decide between cracking million dollar deals on the phone and sweating or sitting in a cool but noisy environment. And since Delhi was so hot, the automatic control kept adjusting to the highest fan power and i had a tough time hearing myself think.
The throttle response and engine is way above average and very close to the perfection bar. Although made for the rear seat passenger, the driver is not kept too far away from comfort. The iDrive system is very intuitive in all modes expect navigation, where it is confusing and far from what is expected. The screen resolution and the split screen feature with continuous car monitoring is a true image of German ingenuity. The bumper cameras are too square but the virtual parking assist system with under-the-mirror and other cameras is necessary in a country like our where the majority do not know even the basic parking rules.
Apart from the fan noise the other thing which is unforgivable is the horn relay. It is placed in the dash in front of the co-driver and every time you honk, you can hear the relay click.
I was always a big fan of the class of long wheel base luxury saloon cars and this was my first time in such a car. Apart from being spellbound and awestruck, i was pleasantly shocked at the over-engineering and micro-managing going on in the car. If you are interested in this segmemt, the BMW7 series is definitely worth buying if you need some hardcore performance along with luxury and sophistication.
All i can say is, at the end of the day the 730Ld left a big smile on my face and it took a while to get back in the normal everyday grind week.