2015 BMW 740Ld xDrive Sedan
Diesel power and a Long Wheelbase 7 series, together at last
If a full size, fuel-sipping German luxury sedan is on your shopping list, the usual suspects (Audi, Mercedes Benz and now, BMW) have you covered- all offer models with diesel power. BMW continues to offer a 7 series ActiveHybrid, but we’ve driven the technology on 3 and 5 series models- two examples that embody the Law of Diminishing Returns for fuel savings when you consider the premium you’re asked to pay over the standard version. That, and the stark reality that “Your Mileage May Vary” mean that these cars aren’t particularly good at achieving better consumptions figures than their conventionally powered counterparts.
If stretching each droplet of fuel as far as it can go is a high priority, diesel is the only way to go. A nice by-product of diesels is a deep well of low end torque, goading you to effortlessly harness the wave of thrust that results even from smaller throttle openings. The lazy and relaxed feel to the way these cars pour themselves down the road is perfectly fitting for a big luxo-barge. Although a tad late to the party, BMW will satiate well-heeled diesel shoppers with their excellent 3.0 inline six oil burner- the very same one found under the hood of the 535d.
PROS: Hedonistic luxury, torque rich engine does the ‘wafting’ thing pretty good, can still be a willing partner for fun despite its size.
CONS: Shuddery start/stop system, over 5 meters in length (!) and no paddle shifters even with the M package?
THE VERDICT: Captains of Industry, enjoy your velvety torque and significantly increased cruising range.
Proximity key in hand, we slide behind the wheel of BMW’s 740Ld xDrive. This is the only configuration BMW will allow us Canadians to put in our driveways (there are other diesel engine and drivetrain options in Europe, including the bonkers triple-turbocharged M750Ld.)
Driving the 740Ld is an exercise in hedonism and denial. A lengthy list of every gadget and convenience was added to our test car including decadent massaging thrones and fine stitched leather on any surface your eyes and fingers may encounter. That feeling of endless luxury is quite spoiling, which will lead to denial; you begin to feel like a much more important person that you actually are (no butler-to-car service at the coffee shop? Pity.) You make an entrance when you pull up in this thing, and it was amusing to watch the let-down expression on people’s faces when they saw me emerge from the 740; “oh, it’s no one important, carry on.”
Every BMW we have driven in the last few years has the ability to dial up chassis and drivetrain behaviour, from painfully slow ECO PRO to the full red mist Sport PLUS. This must’ve been the first time we left the switch completely alone. Sport PLUS’s frenetic power delivery and transmission behaviour are so out of sync with the 740Ld’s mission in life that you feel a bit guilty messing around with it. Besides, the unhurried nature of the car doesn’t really encourage any sporting driving, but being a BMW (and equipped with the M package) the 740 will dance if you play it the right song. I fully turned off the traction and stability aids to have a little fun during a recent snowfall, and although the tail will slide predictably wide at your provocation, it’s kind of like wearing a bespoke Saville Row suit to an Iron Maiden concert- sure, you can do it, but it looks weird.
The list of shortcomings is small, but there are a few niggles that we discovered during our time masquerading as the 1%. BMW’s maligned start/stop system apparently didn’t get the memo smoothness is top priority when it was tapped for flagship 7 series duties, and so still shakes the car with unceremonious vibration when it fires back up. Spend a long time in traffic and you’ll be desperately reaching for the switch to shut it off. And that big wheelbase which yields so much comfort and soaks up bumps so proficiently will become a thorn in your side if you have to traverse and park on narrow urban streets as part of your commute. Much less of a deal is the lack of paddle shifters, whose presence isn’t terribly missed but seem as though they were forgotten on a car in this price bracket. I might not want to be flicking through all the gears on a regular basis, but it would be nice to have them for rare occasions of delinquency.
The arrival of BMW’s newest 7 series variant comes at a curious time, as the next generation models will be arriving soon and have already been photographed in the wild wearing heavy camouflage. We’d bet that the diesel engine will find its way into the engine bay of the next-gen car as well. After all, plutocrats everywhere are used to having their cake and eating it too, including a luxurious motoring experience that consumes less fuel.
2015 BMW 740Ld xDrive Sedan– Specifications
- Price as tested: $125,050
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Engine: 3.0-litre inline-6 turbo diesel, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 255 @ 4,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft): 413 @ 1,500 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 2,139 kg (4,715 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Economy: 10.2L/100km (23 mpg)