** This article is the personal experience of a 2018 BMW G11 740Le owner and does not necessarily reflect the views of WapCar.
Author: Kevin Wong
Have you ever looked to the car next to you or on a billboard while driving or while it is parked and it is a BMW 7-Series and you admire the lines and curves? I was exactly like that and I can say that I am lucky enough to be able to drive it daily (it’s a company car, does not belong to me... haha). My first encounter with a BMW 7-Series was an E38 from the movie Transporter and during that year when it was launched, it was one of the most beautiful and advance car of that era. Till today, I will be on Instagram looking at E38 while being on Mudah searching and waiting for the right time to own and restore it.
Anyways back to the review, the 7-Series that I am fortunate to drive is a 2018 BMW G11 740Le. I do apologise for not sharing the purchase experience due to it being a company car and to respect the privacy. Nonetheless, I can share my honest experience with you on the pros and cons regarding the drive and ownership of a BMW and a plug-in hybrid. I can say there is never a perfect car as every car has its positive and negative and they complement each other which you do not notice after getting used to it unless you are searching for the problems. On a side note, after owning a BMW F30 330e M-Sport for six months and now driving the BMW 740Le for about 3 years, if I have the money to buy my next sedan car; I would rather choose a non-plug-in hybrid (and it would be a 3 pointed star).
We all know that when you see a BMW 7-Series on the road, it's supposed to be a car to be chauffeured in, the boss at the back reclined with the rear blinds up relaxing or busy with business calls (making money) however in my case the car is being driven and I have to apologise first that I could not review as a passenger but only the driving experience as I have not once sat behind except when cleaning. Therefore, I start off by admitting that BMW is really a driver’s car; you really do get the sheer driving pleasure as quoted from their slogan. It does put a smile and confidence but at a cost, this is because of its power and handling, but comfort (in my opinion) is slightly reduced even though The 7 is equipped with adaptive air suspension anyhow it is more comfortable than the 330e M-Sport. The suspension on The 7 absorbs most of the bumps comfortably, but at times depending on the road condition you do feel some bumps because of the low profile tyres. In most cases, you feel like you are just floating in both comfort and sports mode. Comparing to the 330e, you can feel every bump because of the firm suspension and I tend to get a back discomfort after driving it especially during long distance drive. Be that as it may, BMW should really improve the plushness of their seats and comparing to the Mercedes W221 S300l, it lacks the thigh and back support as I feel that BMW seats are thin; although it provides a snug fit and support which is good for holding you in as you go round corners or at high speed whereas in the Mercedes, the seats are thick and plush but it does not give you much of support when you go round corners as it is more suited for comfort.
Another sheer pleasure comes in the form of BMW 740Le's power and handling giving thanks to its carbon core body and a 2.0L Turbocharged engine assisted by an electric motor sending 322hp to all four wheels, acceleration is AWESOME; going from a cruising speed of 70km/hr to 250km/hr (the fastest I have driven) in seconds is mind blowing at the same time scary. The highest speed that I feel safe and comfortable is between 140-150km/hr and the BMW 740Le feels very planted, you do not feel any buffeting and you are in control. What I meant by control is the handling; especially on our Malaysian highways there are always debris (tyre, plastic bumpers and etc.) and carcasses lying in the middle of the road and when we have to suddenly avoid it and could not brake in time thus we swerve slightly or change lane abruptly, the BMW 740Le just stay planted and follow your commands and the steering input is very accurate (This happened to me twice just this month). Another way of control is going round corners, the steering input are very accurate and where and how you want the BMW 740Le to turn it will command; especially going up to Genting Highlands, executing corners and bends as I believe our country a race track (most corners and turns have a bank angle) in disguise.
On the other hand, if you make the BMW 740Le go any faster the car tends to float. In my opinion, it does not feel stable as the car tends to twitch. If you select sports mode, you can feel the torque instantly and it wants to go even faster, if you switch the transmission to sports you can instantly feel the difference, the throttle and transmission response are immediate. For my daily driving preference I will select between comfort and sports individual (my ideal settings are: Transmission: Comfort, Steering: Comfort, Suspension: Sport, Engine: Sport) mode and there is never a need to put the transmission into sport unless for the sake of pure fun because the power in both comfort and sport are sufficient. Nevertheless, with great speeds comes great braking power responsibility and thankfully the brakes are powerful enough to slow down such a big car in seconds and being a plug-in hybrid it has regenerative brakes which means you can charge the car battery which means when the police pull you over for driving fast, you can response with “Tuan, I was driving fast because I need to charge my car”. At high speeds the brakes are responsive whereas at lower speeds or in a traffic jam the brakes are not responsive and I nearly rear-ended the car a few times as I am not use to the amount of brake pressure I need to apply so that the car would not stop in an uncomfortable way for passengers. Therefore to overcome this problem, I just switch on the adaptive cruise control and let it do its thing and it works wonders (no more tiring foot). All I have to do is set the distance and speed and let the car do the work and just pray that no other car switch to the lane I am in. Since we are talking about low speeds and traffic jam the problem about plug-in hybrid is the auto-stop function whereby the car switches from engine to battery power. The throttle response is very sluggish and the car accelerates slowly, but if you accidentally put the hammer down the BMW 740Le jerks forward as it switches battery to engine power and it is something I find irritating. This can be a problem when you are going up ramps in parking lots, going up a hill and when reversing, because you feel like the car does not move at all and the electric motor does not help the car move smoothly and if you are not aware you may press the pedal slightly more than usual the car will just accelerate and you need to brake hard. This happens to me a few times, so what I will just switch it to sports mode.
These are the sheer pleasure you will get from driving the BMW 740Le; however, the annoying part (in my opinion) of the car is the plug-in hybrid. I have heard other owners saying that they can drive the 740Le without refuelling for two months but that is not the case in reality unless they every time they go somewhere and charge it while parking. I understand that the government is trying to encourage owners to be more environmental friendly by getting us to buy more EV car thus awarding EV tax incentives but they did not facilitate enough EV parking bays. Only certain areas do provide but they are only 3 or 4 slots (which are always full) so we can fully utilise the charging capability. Even though we have our own charging box at home, the electric bills can be quite high if we charge every night. A full charge takes 2 hours (fast charging via wall box) and 8 hours (slow charging via common house 3 pin wall plug) and depends on your driving characteristics a fully charge batter can get a range of 26km to 36km. From my experience, my fuel economy is currently at 9.6km/l for the past 6 month which will give me 35km EV and 470km Fuel range. The fuel tank is about 40litres and with my driving characteristics within Kl and Selangor it can last a week and if it includes long distance it can approximately last for 5 days. For the EV capacity, it will not last the whole day depending on the journey. For example: I drive about 2km from home to office and back home, the battery can last for about 2 days. If I drive from home to mid valley or pavilion and back home, the battery can’t last the whole day only last the return journey. In addition, we can charge the BMW 740Le while driving using “Battery Control” mode, but it burns fuel faster (estimating every 2km of fuel you charge 1km of battery range). Therefore, in order to really fully maximise the EV capability, we need to keep charging the car which can be a hassle. That was another reason why I sold my BMW 330e previously as I had to constantly change the cars position to charge the 330e. For The 7, now staying at a different location, charging the car is not of an issue but only the electric bill. Therefore, I did charge the car and just drive in petrol mode.
Well enough of the 740Le’s characteristics and now for its quality and features of The 7. Build quality is perfect being a German car but there are certain flaws being a continental car that tends to fail, whereby any parts need replacing is thankfully under warranty or another scenario is covered by the company. Overall, the car so far has no major issue, no rattling, squeaking noise or things falling apart while driving. Cabin is very quiet but at high speeds there is some wind noise but bearable due to the car structure material (carbon core). Sadly you do not get 64 ambient colour options but you get bronze, orange, white, blue, green and purple which are sufficient enough. Being a BMW flagship model, it is riddled with technology and safety sensors which can be useful at the same time very annoying. The good thing is that all these can be customise in the car’s settings.
Total score: 5/5
Quality & Features: 5/5
Ride Comfort: 5/5
Fuel Economy: 3/5
Price & Cost: nil (company car)
In conclusion, I can’t complain much about the BMW 740Le as their positive and negative points complement each other and I am just fortunate enough to have the opportunity to drive the company car.