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