2011 BMW 740i - Short Take Road Test
We find no flaws in BMW’s bargain 7-series.
BY JARED GALL
With the salty seas of the gulf still being displaced by BP’s lost profits, perhaps a new environmental conscientiousness will take hold of the global consumer. (Yeah, right. And perhaps Joe Biden will call it quits so he can take a full-time job pushing old ladies down the stairs.) Should conservationism or that mortal enemy of the luxury business, fiscal responsibility, indeed grip the market, BMW has a plan in place in the form of a new lower-priced, higher-efficiency 7-series.
Less, More, Less, and Less (Not Necessarily in That Order)
The new 740i and long-wheelbase 740Li utilize a smaller engine than do other versions of the current 7-series. It’s a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six that cranks out 315 hp at 5800 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque from 1600 rpm all the way to 4500. Although the six is down 85 hp and 120 lb-ft to the 750i’s twin-turbo V-8, it also weighs about 100 fewer pounds, and that helps the 740i sprint to 60 mph a 10th quicker than the 750i—5.1 seconds to 5.2. The big V-8 doesn’t catch up until 70 mph, at which point you’d better let up anyway, or there’s a ticket coming your way. Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 17 mpg city and 25 highway compared with the 750’s 15/22. Consider the absurdly priced—$103,175—gas-electric ActiveHybrid 7, with its 17/26 rating, officially obsolete.
Perhaps as a reward for conscientiousness, BMW prices the 740i $12,850 lower than the 750i. But you sacrifice the 750i’s phenomenal—and heated—seats, proximity-based keyless entry and start, and softer nappa leather. The 740i does, however, have as long an options list as do other 7-series models, meaning all that stuff can be added back in. Pricing of various packages—and the features bundled within those packages—differs from 740 to 750, making spec’ing the two identically nearly impossible. But the six-cylinder car is about $7000 less when outfitted as closely as possible to 750 levels of equipment.
Our test vehicle was optioned with different goals in mind, the primary one being nimbleness. The $6500 M Sport package adds smoky Shadowline exterior trim, 19-inch wheels (20s are a further option), active anti-roll bars, a chubby M steering wheel, a subtle body kit, and an Anthracite headliner (that’s the color, not the material). For $1750, active steering tweaks the rear wheels in turns to sharpen responses. On top of that, our car had the $1700 Convenience package that includes a power trunklid, the proximity-based keyless functionality, and soft-close doors—the laziness special. And $650 finished the iDrive, audio, and climate controls in a gorgeous black ceramic glaze that had us totally smitten. The total of $81,625 put us in a seriously sporting and coddling machine that still undercut the entry price for a 750i by a couple thousand dollars.
Don’t Tell It That It’s Not a Sports Car
Like all 7-series models, the 740i is surprisingly deft for something so large, a supersized 3-series, a feeling enhanced by its lighter nose. Skidpad stick, at 0.88 g, would embarrass most of the Camaros we’ve tested, and a smoking standstill from 70 mph is just 163 feet away. There’s enough room inside to erect a jungle gym (two, if you go for the long wheelbase), and everything is finished to a standard that didn’t exist in the auto industry even a few years ago. It’s a wonderful car, and there is no noticeable sacrifice for going with the smallest engine. The 740i is a car both the owner and his or her conscience will be happy to live with.
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