Out on a limo
Here’s how to keep up with the Joneses in grand style
inspired R8 supercar and Mercedes-Benz will stroke itself over the exotic SL and SLS series. Yet the rangetopper for the brand that bangs on about ‘‘ sheer driving pleasure’’ is a massive sedan that is often chauffeur-driven.
Still, if you happen to want a $210K-plus four-door and you smile rather than wince when the road goes all curvy, here’s the limo you’re probably looking for.
Not for the first time when approaching this part of the Carsguide template does it strike one that the notion of ‘‘ value’’ is relative.
The revised 7 gets more standard kit and access to a few smart options, a new and entirely irrelevant hybrid variant, an up-gunned petrol V8, standard eight-speed auto across the range, Start/Stop and economy mode (except on the 760Li), rear self-levelling air suspension and tarted up satnav and optional Bang and Olufsen audio. Prices start at $204,600 for the diesel 730d (and, really, this is all the 7 Series you’d need). The ‘‘ volume’’ 740i and longwheelbase 740Li are $211,500 and $226,500 respectively. The new ActiveHybrid 7 and ActiveHybrid 7L (with the powertrain of the recently reviewed ActiveHybrid 3) are $222,000 and $237,000.
Getting a bit silly now, the V8 750i and 750Li are $281,100 and $297,800— and the sheik’s special V12 760Li is all of $391,500.
Given the rear occupants are likely to be controlling international finance, sudden untimely jolts could have grave consequences for the Dow or the Nikkei. The now standard self-levelling air suspension could therefore prevent another GFC.
All models get the ConnectedDrive driver assistance, safety, communication and convenience package. Inevitably there’s a sense of staying abreast of the Joneses about this update, hence the optional parking assistant that all but parks the massive beast, your inputs confined to selecting reverse and spot of accelerator pressure while getting an all-round view from above on the 10-inch multimedia screen.
The Jones motif continues with the addition of automatic boot opening function. When your chauffeur is standing behind the car with the key fob still in this pocket, it takes the wave of a foot under the rear bumper sensor to open the lid.
Nor is Jeeves likely to go crook about the appreciably enhanced performance. Inevitably all engines are claimed to be both more potent and efficient, with Auto Start/ Stop shoving its nose in and the addition of the Eco Pro mode for the Driving Experience Control. The new coasting mode decouples the engine when it is overrunning at speeds between 50 and (fancifully for us) 160km/h, so you freewheel along with minimum juice use.
The hybrid drive system works with the 235kW 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbo six for a combined output of 260kW/ 500Nm. That means 0-100km/h in just 5.7seconds and fuel economy of 6.8L/100km. Yet the inline six turbo diesel 730d does better, returning 5.6L— from a 1900kg limo.
The 740Li gets the potent 3.0-litre turbo petrol that does astonishing service in theM 135i coupe and hatch. With some half a tonne more to haul, the 235kW/450Nm engine still sparkles with a 5.7-second sprint time and thirst of 7.9L, bettering a Mazda3 Neo.
Significant fettling has rendered the most impressive powerplant even more so. Fuel use of the turbo 4.4 V8 has been reduced by a quarter to 8.6L despite putting out 330kW/650Nm to achieve a 4.8-second sprint time. Not a whole lot of point then in the range-topper’s V12, which is barely faster but massively thirstier. But it is the last of its breed— BMWs are now almost all turbocharged.
Brighter and cleverer lights fore and aft (which mean you won’t be taken for an Audi), a few more colours (don’t panic, only monochromes and a deep blue), tarted up interiors (reassuringly faux wood trimmed as ever) and . . . that’s about it. We’re talking about a muscled-up version of the instantly recognisable currentBMWparadigm.
The two heavy hitters in back have plenty of elbow room and access to internet or television via tonal screens. Missing, subjectively, is the extra degree of opulence that makes Audi’s A8 the car to sit in.
A saga in itself, the active and passive safety kit proves again that while lawmakers and politicians preen themselves on reducing the road toll, it is the car makers that have made it nigh on impossible to kill yourself in a car. Yet in several states P-platers continue to be forbidden to drive the safest cars on the planet.
Most licensing authorities would know nothing of the renewed 7’s safety kit. The Active Protection Safety package includes Attentiveness Assistant, which analyses driving behaviour on the basis of various signals such as steering angle and road speed. Detecting signs of fatigue, it