Best of both worlds

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Steve Grant

BLEND­ING lux­ury, style, power and cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy, the 7 Se­ries is a true flag­ship for BMW. But can a hy­brid ver­sion pos­si­bly be as good as its sib­lings? Bor­row­ing tech­nol­ogy from the BMWi sub-brand, the Mu­nich-based company has cre­ated the BMW 740e and long-wheel­base 740Le xDrive to fol­low in the foot­steps of the X5 eDrive40e, 225xe and the 330e plug-in petrol-elec­tric hy­brids.

Work­ing with an eight-speed Step­tronic trans­mis­sion, the petrol engine pro­duces 258hp while the elec­tric drive sys­tem pro­duces 112hp – a com­bined out­put of 322hp and peak torque of 500Nm.

Ef­fi­ciency may be the aim but en­dowed with such power, the 740Le re­sponds by surg­ing from 0-62mph in just 5.3 sec­onds.

Such out­stand­ing per­for­mance is matched to ex­traor­di­nar­ily low of­fi­cial con­sump­tion and emis­sions fig­ures.

The 740Le xDrive is said to achieve 117.7mpg with CO2 emis­sions of 54g/ km. To achieve that, you’ll need to drive like your granny, make only short trips and put the car on charge at the end of ev­ery jour­ney.

Then, you may be able to fully en­joy its all-elec­tric, emis­sion-free driv­ing range of 29 miles. It just about al­lowed my com­mute but, af­ter plenty of “real life” driv­ing, I achieved a much more be­liev­able 36mpg.

For those who en­joy driv­ing, the good news is the 740Le xDrive drives just like the rest of the range. The ad­di­tion of the plug-in hy­brid sys­tem does noth­ing to dampen its dy­nam­ics.

As sug­gested by the fig­ures, it’s gen­uinely fun and in­volv­ing when you stick it in Sport mode, es­pe­cially the gi­gan­tic surge of elec­tric power when ac­cel­er­at­ing from stand­still.

The 740Le xDrive is only the sec­ond BMW model to dis­trib­ute its power per­ma­nently to all four wheels in pure elec­tric driv­ing – ex­tra trac­tion which aids per­for­mance. While BMW’s Ac­tive Steer­ing helps the limo – surely what the Le is de­signed to be – feel much more ag­ile than you’d ex­pect its vi­tal statis­tics to al­low.

And, of course, in Com­fort mode, the 740Le glides im­pec­ca­bly smoothly on its air sus­pen­sion while the out­side world passes by in near si­lence.

Com­fort, Sport and Eco Pro modes are ac­ti­vated by the touch of a but­ton. There’s also an adap­tive mode which uses cam­eras and sen­sors to al­most mag­i­cally adapt the car’s re­sponses to the driver’s style and route.

In the Auto eDrive, the Beemer’s brain de­cides which mo­tor works best. It de­faults to all-elec­tric mode at low and mod­er­ate speeds while petrol power bursts into life at speeds of around 50mph or un­der heavy ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Max eDrive is pure elec­tric, which gives the BMW a top speed of 87mph. Plung­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor into kick­down im­me­di­ately springs the petrol engine back to life.

Also in this mode, a battery con­trol set­ting cutely al­lows you to de­cide how much charge you want to pre­serve for later in your jour­ney. This means you can charge it on long jour­neys for later emis­sion-free use around town.

If all that sounds daunt­ing, it’s not. It’s all eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble via clearly marked but­tons next to the gear shift.

You’d ex­pect a £75,000 car to be com­fort­able and lux­u­ri­ous and the plug-in 7 Se­ries doesn’t dis­ap­point – it is ex­cep­tion­ally com­fort­able and spa­cious. The in­te­rior is all high-qual­ity leather and stylishly ma­chined but­tons through­out. And, with the Le, there’s acres of space in the back. For those high-fly­ers who need to be driven from meeting to meeting, it re­ally is one of ‘the’ places to be.

So are plug-in ver­sions of the 7 Se­ries as good as the others in the range? Yes they are.

TEST DRIVE BMW 740LE XDRIVE

MODEL: BMW 740Le xDrive PRICE: £74,880 ME­CHAN­I­CAL: 322bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine plus elec­tric mo­tor driv­ing four wheels via 8-speed au­to­matic gear­box MAX SPEED: 155mph 0-62MPH: 5.3 sec­onds COM­BINED MPG: 117.7 IN­SURANCE GROUP: 23 CO2 EMIS­SIONS: 54g/km BIK RAT­ING: 13% WAR­RANTY: 3yrs/un­lim­ited mileage

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