Sixth generation of BMW 7 Series an inspiring mode of luxury transport
BMW 730Ld's mix of technology, performance and comfort gives it definite appeal
Mother's Day may be long over but this week I was the coolest mum in the world. That's according to my six- and seven-year-olds who spent their school holidays sojourning in the back of my test car watching RTE Junior.
After only 10 minutes, BMW's flagship 7 Series was declared the "best car ever"; quite a commendation coming from a pair who know their Fiats from their Ferraris and can wax lyrically on the wonders of a hand-stitched steering wheel versus a mass-produced one.
And it not just kids who are seduced by this car; the new 7 is a seriously sophisticated piece of machinery with high-tech goodies including inbuilt Wi-Fi, Laser lights, Night vision, Gesture Control and Ambient Air: you can even park the car remotely using the key.
Encasing all this technology is a much more lithe and taut exterior than before. Like its predecessor, the new BMW 7 Series is offered in two body variants.
Our test car, the extended version, is the largest car that BMW has built and while this allows almost residential space in the back, it does make parking a challenge. No amount of parking aids and cameras can disguise the fact that parking spaces are not actually designed to accommodate a car of this size; no matter how carefully you park, it always looks abandoned with a nonchalant ease that only BMW drivers can achieve.
Despite a good range of power-trains the chances are high that if you are going to buy a 7 Series you will opt for the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel with auto transmission. This engine produces 262 bhp and accelerates from 0-100kph in just 6.2 seconds with a top speed of 250kph and boasts fuel economy of 5 litres per 100 km or 56.5 mpg, and CO2 emissions of 132g/km. It comes with a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox and with several drive modes-Eco, Comfort and Sport among them. There are also two new plug-in hybrid models: the BMW 740e, and the BMW 740Le xDrive.
The car impresses most from behind the wheel and it defies its sheer size and bulk. On the road it is so engaging, the steering well weighted and there is plenty of grip with no shortage of power.
Prices start from €96,880 but our test car came at a base price of €103,117 and had enough optional extras to push the price to €133,896. The Executive package added €4,600, the Rear Seat Comfort package that my boys enjoyed so much an additional €7,293.68, while Executive Drive Pro will set you back a further €3,757 and the Climate Comfort laminated glass and Sky Lounge panoramic glass sunroof €1,525 and €2,599 respectively. None of the extras are cheap but this is a car worth spending money on. You do it no justice by skimping on the options.
I may not be your typical 7 Series driver and while the battle to win hearts and pockets is aimed squarely at the boardrooms and the golf courses, not the supermarket car park or school gates, that's not to say this car cannot be enjoyed by all. What's more, women buy large executive and luxury cars. Despite being reminded over the years by the marketing manager of one premium brand that women weren't their target market when it came to luxury cars, it seems recent statistics contradict that perception. I particularly like that women in the US spend $80bn on vehicles annually.
It is no surprise then that Jaguar is set to woo its female customers with the new 2016 Jaguar F-Pace SUV and similarly Porsche, a brand traditionally aimed at affluent male petrol heads, more than doubled its market share among female buyers with the introduction of the Cayenne and more recently the Macan.
This is the car BMW needs to gain parity in the luxury market specifically that means taking on Mercedes S Class and to a lesser extent, the Audi A8. The new 7 combines cutting-edge technology with performance and comfort and is a far more involving drive than rivals. It's not as indulgent as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but it now deserves to be considered in the same league.
At a cost of €103,000 plus extras, is it worth the money? Yes, this is a serious car, a statement car and a technological tour de force. And as I prepare to hand the keys back, I know will miss it. I have loved every gadget, and the car even more, but most of all I'll miss the dulcet tones of RTE Junior regaling my kids with tales of pirates and shipwrecks.