Sev­enth won­der

A DRIV­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE THAT GOES BE­YOND TAK­ING THE WHEEL

The Luxury Collection - - Contents - -By Anand Mo­han

Re­mem­ber the times when your old man took you for a spin in his car be­fore the word dig­i­tal was coined for the gad­gets we used. All the en­ter­tain­ment you had was a rick­ety ra­dio that re­quired a tap or two and an ad­just­ment to the an­tenna to hear a song clearly. If some­one said a twirl of my fin­gers in the air would change the vol­ume, I’d check that per­son into an asy­lum. But this is 2017 and look how things have changed. I get the keys to a BMW 7 Se­ries and all it wants to

do is im­press. It’s like I’m the hot guy on our first date and Miss Seven wants to fast-track to first base. Con­fused? Let me ex­plain.

The Seven comes with two keys, a reg­u­lar one and a dig­i­tal one. That dig­i­tal key is some­what like a smart­phone. It shows you the range on the fuel left in the gas tank, you can re­motely turn the lights on and off, and even set a timer for the air con­di­tioner to turn on so that the cabin is cool be­fore you en­ter it. Then there is my favourite party trick. A swipe on the screen will take you to the car’s re­mote park­ing func­tion. You can start the en­gine, move it for­ward or back­ward and turn the car off af­ter you have found your de­sired park­ing spot, all while you are star­ing at the beauty from the out­side. That’s right the car parks it­self with its key. Still not im­pressed?

Af­ter get­ting in, I fire up the en­gine and don’t like the song play­ing on the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem so I point two fin­gers in the air at the screen and move them for­ward like I’m cast­ing a spell. Voila, next track. So that’s cool I think, and af­ter a twirl of my fin­gers to in­crease the vol­ume, I glance at a but­ton on the cen­tre con­sole. It’s there to add some fra­grance in the cabin. In­side the glove box are a set of car per­fumes that come in a pack BMW called the ‘Am­bi­ent car pack­age’. The per­fumes, in vary­ing de­grees of in­ten­sity, will fill the cabin with a fresh­ness you need af­ter a long day in the board­room.

It is just about rush hour on my way to work and the roads in town are as bad as they come these days. So I sift through the menus to get a nice back mas­sage. The things she does to spoil you silly, it’s a bit over the top. But Ger­mans be­ing Ger­man, found some sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity and in­cluded an ex­er­cise pack­age too in the seats where you have to per­form a se­ries of tasks that re­quire some force. All the while you are seated in one of the finest ex­am­ples of leather thrones I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced in my life. It’s not just the mas­sagers that will take care of your back though. Un­like the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of the 7 Se­ries that only had adap­tive air sus­pen­sion in the rear axle, the new one has it up front too. In its most com­fort­able set­ting, the ride is like ap­ply­ing hot but­ter on a crunchy piece of toast. It evens off the hard edges and drives you with a re­gal­ity that only a flag­ship lux­ury sedan will of­fer.

The 7 Se­ries is gen­uinely re­gal, ev­ery bit of it built with the finest ma­te­ri­als, ev­ery tech­nol­ogy of­fer­ing an ex­cess to what you need and even the head­lights have laser beams that il­lu­mi­nate 600 me­tres of the earth in front of your eyes, just be­cause it can. You don’t need search­lights like these or a set of fra­grances or ges­ture con­trols, but they are there to pam­per you.

For a car guy like me, any­thing with over 300 horse­power usu­ally means one thing. I get in, find a empty stretch of road and bury the right foot in the fire­wall. But a cou­ple of hours into the drive, I was just en­joy­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence. My spa treat­ment ended when we fi­nally came upon a switch­back that led on to a snaking moun­tain road. Un­der the hood is BMW’S finest straight six turbo-petrol en­gine in this 740Li trim. It makes 322bhp of power and 450Nm of torque and is an award win­ning en­gine that is known for its re­fine­ment and ef­fi­ciency. A sub­con­scious ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the en­gine’s re­fine­ment is how un­ob­tru­sive it is while driv­ing. Its pres­ence isn’t felt un­less it revs over 3000rpm and even then, the fine rum­ble is more mu­sic to the ears than any­thing.

Power is laid down smoothly and surely all the way from as low as 1400rpm, when the turbo gives a slight shove of torque, and it car­ries on well over 5000rpm. It will even kiss 7000rpm if you stay on the gas in one gear but it’s best to shift up a gear by then to keep pro­ceed­ings smooth. That 8-speed au­to­matic gear­box is a peach, al­ways pick­ing the right gear and if it finds a vari­a­tion in driv­ing style, it quickly adapts to it. You could drive like a lead footed driver or with the calm­ness of a monk and ei­ther way, the 7 Se­ries will fit you like a glove in the way it re­sponds to your in­puts. For a car that weighs 1.85 tonnes, the 7 Se­ries will do the 0-100kmph sprint in 5.6 sec­onds and hit a top speed of 250kmph if you find a closed road long enough for it. It lacks some sense of speed when you are nes­tled in its co­coon though. There is a slight dis­con­nect to the out­side world that is a lux­ury sedan’s es­sen­tial at­tribute, but present it a set of twisties and it re­quires a re­cal­i­bra­tion of the mind. You could en­ter a cor­ner harder than you think you have and shav­ing off all that speed re­quires some heavy brak­ing be­cause of its weight.

The 7 Se­ries how­ever has ex­cel­lent weight dis­tri­bu­tion and a lift off the ac­cel­er­a­tor to point it into a cor­ner and then an in­duced over­steer will turn it into a much more ag­ile car than its ap­pear­ance sug­gests. Acres of prime BMW real es­tate can han­dle bends like a charm. It’s no sportscar mind you, but if you had to pick one flag­ship for some fun on a wind­ing road, it would be this. The 7 Se­ries is a tech­no­log­i­cal tour-de-force, and that’s the car’s first take­away, but it’ also a car you’d want to drive in­stead of be­ing driven in.

Photography: Ro­hit G Mane

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