Great numbers, but you’ll have to play to its strengths out in the real world
Yes, it’s a2.0-liter limousine,but if that offends you, consider this the halfway house between a luxo barge and a BMWi8.
This isn’t your off-the-shelf four-banger. It’s actually BMW’s most powerful, at 258hp. Between the flywheel and the eight-speed auto is a fat, disc-shaped electric motor, so the total system power is 322hp. The electric motor drives through the 740e’s gearbox, which means its full power is available right across the speed range, rather than falling off as speed rises.
The engine always operates with the motor, but there’s a clutch between the two, so the motor can drive the car with the engine sleeping. Under those electric-only circs, the motor is rated at 111hp. Enough to get you to a motorway cruise. Since it’s a plug-in hybrid, it can go for an EU-rated 45km, or real-world 32, before the battery is drained.
In electric mode, progress is obviously near-silent. In hybrid mode, the switching between engine-on and engine-off is pretty smooth too. But it aims to keep the engine running at low revs, and that means a tinkly vibration. Mash the throttle and the noise doesn’t get anymore pleasant, but it certainly gets along well. The alternative, the 740d non-hybrid diesel six, sounds nicer, but clatters in town.
As always with these PHEVs, economy depends on how often you plug it in. If you’re on a long trip away from sockets, economy will be slightly better than a740i but not asgood as a 740d.
But, if you plug in, things get better. I did a journey of 64km across the rolling countryside near Munich. The car started out fully charged. Because the destination was in the navigation, it aimed to get me there with a depleted battery. Its strategy was to use the gas for the faster parts of the trip, and electric elsewhere. Driven briskly, it did 23km/L. It also drained 80% of its battery. A car for the shorter commute, then.
BMW 740e iPerformance