BMW 745Le

BMW’s first plug-in hy­brid for the coun­try gives us a glimpse in to the brand’s elec­tric fu­ture

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THE BMW 745LE IS A sig­nif­i­cant car, not just for BMW, but for In­dia. This is the first plug-in hy­brid to be launched in the coun­try, and it is a for­mat of car that could po­ten­tially be a bridge be­tween today and a fully elec­tri­fied fu­ture. We have al­ready driven the 730d vari­ant of the cur­rent-gen car, and the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior up­dates are pretty much the same here. Ex­cept the socket be­hind the left-front wheel arch, of course, and a cou­ple of tweaks to the in­te­ri­ors. We’ll get to them in a bit, but first let’s talk about the driv­e­train, the likes of which we have never seen in In­dia be­fore.

Un­der the boot

What makes these plug-in hy­brids stand out is the size of their bat­ter­ies. They are larger than what hy­brids like a Toy­ota Camry have, but are smaller than full-blown elec­tric car bat­ter­ies. The BMW 745Le xDrive gets a 12kWh bat­tery po­si­tioned un­der the rear seats, that drives a mo­tor in­te­grated into the 8-speed trans­mis­sion. The en­gine it­self is an in-line six-cylin­der petrol en­gine that puts out 283bhp and 450Nm on its own. The mo­tor man­ages 111bhp and 265Nm in iso­la­tion, but com­bined peak sys­tem out­put is 389bhp and 600Nm. Of course, all of this adds weight to the 745Le, yes, but per­for­mance is still brisk and it man­ages to ac­cel­er­ate to 100kmph from a stand­still in just 5.1 sec­onds! That is also thanks to the fact that this is the xDrive ver­sion, with all-wheel drive.

Driv­ing in EV mode

Silence. The fact that the 745Le has such a large bat­tery (quar­ter the ca­pac­ity of an MG ZS EV) means it can run in fully-elec­tric mode for over 50km. That means, you can prob­a­bly do your daily com­mute with­out burn­ing a drop of fuel! And you don’t have to be pot­ter­ing about at a snail’s pace ei­ther – it will do up to 110kmph in this mode, be­fore the en­gine

kicks in. In the elec­tric drive mode, it lim­its you to EV only and doesn’t al­low the car to go beyond 110kmph. How­ever, in Hy­brid mode, it pri­ori­tises the elec­tric driv­e­train and feeds in power from the IC en­gine only when hard ac­cel­er­a­tion is de­manded, the bat­tery level falls to lower than 30 per cent or you cross 110kmph. There is a Sport mode too, and here the en­gine is al­ways run­ning and the bat­tery is sup­ple­ment­ing power when nec­es­sary. If driven well, the car can re­turn 38 to 47kmpl, which is stag­ger­ing for a car this size.

The bat­tery can be re­gen­er­ated in a num­ber of ways. This is a plug-in hy­brid, and it can be hooked up to a wall socket, an AC charger or even a pub­lic DC fast charger. The car will charge it­self – the mo­tor can act as a gen­er­a­tor and recharge the bat­tery un­der nor­mal driv­ing con­di­tions. The 745Le gets a Bat­tery Con­trol but­ton which puts charge back into the bat­tery and you can lock it in petrol mode, to save charge for later.

As for the driv­ing dy­nam­ics, it is pretty much the same as the 730d we drove not too long ago. It is ex­tremely com­fort­able, but man­ages to be a bit sportier than an S-Class. Around cor­ners, the 7 ac­tu­ally hides its size rather com­pe­tently. Noise iso­la­tion is bril­liant, Run it in a full-EV mode and you are ac­tu­ally driv­ing in proper silence.

Ver­dict

The BMW 745Le is priced at `1.65 crore, mak­ing it the most ex­pen­sive vari­ant of the 7 Se­ries and mak­ing it fairly more ex­pen­sive than its IC-en­gined ri­vals. But the 745Le isn’t like its con­ven­tional ri­vals at all. It is a car that is far more evolved and fu­tur­is­tic. It has green cre­den­tials, along with per­for­mance and com­fort and re­mains a unique propo­si­tion in the coun­try today. ⌧

Top: The hy­brid 7 looks pretty much the same as the con­ven­tional one. Above: The rear seats get entertainm­ent screens

Top: You will feel like a mil­lion­aire be­hind that wheel. Above: The socket to charge the bat­tery. Left: In­line-six un­der the hood keeps per­for­mance brisk

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