Hybrid power comes to BMW’s luxury flagship
Plug-in Hybrid power makes a lot of sense for a top-end luxury car, which is why the new 7 Series iPerformance is a highly logical introduction for the Munich carmaker. It offers the combination of electric-only EV drive in the city, where many of the CEOs and entrepreneurs who choose luxury saloons work, and full, unfettered performance on the motorway or open road. Low CO2 figures offer advantages for business drivers and the chance to recharge from the electricity network will appeal to the financially prudent.
From the outside, there’s little to distinguish the iPerformance models from other 7 Series. It’s a sleek, imposing and well-resolved design, with BMW’s signature kidney grille and flowing contours. Look closer and you’ll see eDrive badges on the rear pillars, 740e Badging at the rear and BMW i logo on the front side panels. The other giveaway is the charging port for the battery in the front near-side wing. Inside, there are eDrive sill finishers and a black-panel instrument cluster that displays hybrid-specific information, such as range, energy efficiency and battery level. Drivers also have an eDrive button to select between AUTO eDrive, MAX eDrive and SAVE Battery settings. Otherwise it’s all pure 7 Series luxury, with handcrafted wood inlays and hand-stitched leather upholstery.
Two models are offered, the standard wheelbase 740e iPerformance and the long-wheelbase all-wheel drive 740Le xDrive. Both models are powered by a 254bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine combined with an electric motor, giving combined peak outputs of 322bhp and 369lb ft. 0-62mph takes 5.4 seconds. The official combined economy figure is 134.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 49g/km (740Le xDrive figures are 117.7mpg and 54g/km CO2). As with all Plug-in Hybrids, whether you achieve anything like these figures will depend a lot on your typical journey length and how much of it is under electric-only power. All-electric range is 29 miles for the standard wheelbase 740e, and 25 miles for the heavier all-wheel drive 740Le.
As benefits a luxury flagship, there’s lots of high tech to keep captains of industry occupied. Features include gesture control for BMW's iDrive system, high-end ConnectedDrive navigation system and inductive iPhone charging. Among the options are ventilation and massage systems for the seats, the 'Ambient Air' interior scent package and a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond sound system. Another option, remote control parking, will slip the 7 Series into a narrow parking space while you stand by. Trim levels include Standard, Exclusive and M Sport specifications.
The 7 Series bodyshell features a carbon core for exceptional strength with light weight, one of the reasons why travelling within the 740e iPerformance is a reassuringly safe choice. Dynamic Safety warns the driver if it detects signs of fatigue, and other safety options include Night Vision, Lane Control and Protective Pedestrian Protection systems.
The 740e and long-wheelbase 740Le xDrive share a lot of features with the rest of the 7 Series range, which includes V12 and six-cylinder in-line petrol engines as well as a six-cylinder in-line diesel. So there’s plenty of choice. The Plug-In Hybrid models make most sense for urban commuters with access to overnight charging, those who need to drive inside a zero-emissions zone or simply those who care about environmental issues and want to make a greener choice. The good news is that you don’t need to feel you’re sacrificing high-end luxury or performance to feel good about reducing emissions.
M Sport model.