This is the BMW 7-series for people who think a 740i is a bit slack. And also for people who think the 740i is a bit too short. If you happen to be a chauffeur or a chauffeur’s employer the prospect of 140 extra millimetres of legroom in the back is no doubt deal-breakingly exciting, but for the rest of us there isn’t very much wrong with the standard 5072mm version. We’ll wager you wouldn’t get out of the latter after a long journey whinging about cramp.
And those extra millimetres don’t come cheap, either. The 750i already retails at a gulp-inducing £65,045, but if you play the long game you’ll be scratching around for an extra £2885 – that’s £20.61 per millimetre.
What about this twin-turbo engine in the BMW 750iL – as good as they say?
Oh yes, it’s a corker, and the packaging is simply amazing. They’ve shoehorned both the turbos and the catalyst into the gap between the two banks of cylinders, making the whole lump much more compact. Obviously this is of limited value in an engine bay the size of Aberystwyth, but it will have a big impact on future models. And there’s a second purpose – the shape of the engine makes for more efficient breathing, leading to better performance.
So, is it quick?
The 62mph mark comes up in 5.2secs, so in that respect it’s got the Mercedes S500 and Audi A8 4.2FSI licked, and your chauffeur will top out at a limited 155mph on your autobahn commute. But the real meat of the engine is in its creamy mid-range, where the 442lb ft of torque keeps pumping all the way through the real-world driving zone, from 1750rpm on towards the 4500rpm mark. It never feels short of urge, despite the 2055kg it’s hauling (which is 35kg more than the short-arse version, incidentally).
Click 'Next' below to read more of our BMW 750iL first drive
It does sound a bit like there’s a ‘but’ coming…
Indeed. It all rather falls apart at the hands of the awful throttle and odd gearing. The fast pedal is so unforgiving you simply can’t modulate it, which gives rise to shockingly lumpy take-offs that will set the VIPs’ jewellery rattling. The first squeeze isn’t enough to get you off the line, so you press harder, and then break through suddenly to the floor like a skater arriving unexpectedly on a patch of thin ice.
The six-speed auto box has been hailed by its makers as allowing for ‘quicker, more precise changes’, but I’m afraid it doesn’t feel like it. You spend far too long in what is surely too low a gear, and then seemingly morph into sixth once the revs have stacked up. Flick the lever into sequential and swap the cogs yourself and things are much improved, but surely, for a limousine, that’s not the show in town.
So, it’s not a sporty car, but does it handle?
Yes it does. The rear-wheels hook up with grand assurance, even when your skater’s right boot is flailing, and get within half a mile of an apex and you’re reminded what it is BMW can do – the barge feels balletic.
So, you like it, basically?
I do, despite the absurd over-egging of the electronics pudding, which continues to heap gadget upon gadget without any discernible improvement in your life. The reversing camera is always misted up, the windscreen takes an age to clear, iDrive is as maddening as ever and the electric handbrake is nowhere near as intuitive as Audi’s version of the same. But the steering is really tidy, the ride more svelte than any Beemer since runflats barged in, and the cabin is magically comfy.
And those looks?
It’s a little conservative perhaps, and lacks presence on the road, but after the screwed-up paper look of its predecessor this has to be a compliment. The 7-series has never needed to shout. This one whispers discreetly. Rather like a good chauffeur.
BMW's new Seven drives brilliantly, but potential customers are much more likely to be put off by the car's idiosyncrasies than be inspired to throw this 750iL into a bend. Best enjoyed from the back then.
Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know which big limo you'd rather have - the new Seven, an S-class, LS, XJ or A8?