On paper, the BMW 740e plug-in hybrid’s abilities are barely believable. It promises to accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds, emit a mere49g/km ofC02 and return 134.5mpg. Yet it does this while still offering all the comfort and equipment you’d expect from BMW’s flagship.
It’s what the stats don’t tell you that impresses most, though. At low speeds, it can run in electric-only mode for up to 29 miles, which means it’s almost silent inside and out. Up the pace to the point where the engine cuts back in and, while there’s some wind noise, the motor remains firmly in the background, even on the motorway. Not that the 2.0-litre four- cylinder petrol is unpleasant to listen to.
The 322bhp 740e feels quick for its size, no doubt helped by the electric motor supplying 250Nm of torque from zero revs. However, calmness is what this big saloon is about, and the plug-in powertrain really suits the way it wants to be driven.
The taut chassis remains comfortable despite its resistance to roll in bends, but the light steering and huge size mean it definitely feels more at home at a cruise.
Unique to the 740e model is the eDrive selector, which works in the same way as it does on the smaller 330e. This allows you to save charge for short urban commutes, or use it with the engine for maximum power. For this reason, the 740e feels particularly well suited to high-end taxi or chauffeuring firms.
In this scenario the driver could top up the battery using AC fast-charging technology while waiting for passengers, then save fuel and keep things quiet while shuttling clients around the city.
The eight-speed auto gearbox is smooth, too, which is essential for a car like this.
Aside from the powertrain, the 740e is a comfortable way to travel, whether you’re driving or being driven. The interior feels well put together, with a classy mixture of metal and leather surfaces, and there are no cheap-looking plastics to be found.
The 7 Series can’t touch the Mercedes S-Class when it comes to luxury, though – especially in the back. The 740e has loads of legroom, but the relaxing and stylish cabin of the S-Class is in another league.
As you’d expect for nearly £70,000, the kit list is extensive, and includes 18-inch wheels, four-zone climate control, a digital key, wireless smartphone charging, LED lights and a widescreen sat-nav system.
At that price the 740e is closely matched to the 730d, which uses a 261bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel. With official economy of 56.5mpg and emissions of 132g/km, it’s still a good choice – and we’d wager that most people’s driving style would better suit the diesel 7 Series in the real world.
Eight-speed automatic transmission makes hybrid 7 Series exceptionally smooth and relaxing to drive, and electric mode allows you to waft around town in near-silence.
Kit is plentful, with all 740e models benefiting from 18-inch alloys, plus four-zone climate control and sat-nav. It’s also available in M Sport trim, with styling tweaks and bigger wheels.
THE BMW 7 Series may still fall behind the Mercedes S-Class in the luxury car class, but this new 740e is well worth a look nevertheless. It’s brilliantly quiet, comfortable and efficient, yet doesn’t lose out on performance or kit. It makes perfect sense for those with a short commute and regular access to a charge point, and the quiet electric motor could tempt diesel drivers, too.
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo, plus electric motor
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
ON SALE: Now