BMW 730Ld M Sport -

First Drive

BMW 7 Series, 2016, front, action
BMW 7 Series, 2016, action
BMW 7 Series, 2016, front
BMW 7 Series, 2016, side, static
BMW 7 Series, 2016, side, action
BMW 7 Series, 2016, doors open
BMW 7 Series, 2016, overhead
BMW 7 Series, 2016, rear
BMW 7 Series, 2016, rear, action
BMW 7 Series, dashboard
BMW 7 Series, door trim
BMW 7 Series, chiller
BMW 7 Series, boot
BMW 7 Series, head up display
BMW 7 Series, gear lever
BMW 7 Series, interior
BMW 7 Series, rear touchscreen tablet
BMW 7 Series, display screen
BMW 7 Series, rear seats
BMW 7 Series, rear seat phone
BMW 7 Series, Carbon Core badge

AT BMW they call it driving luxury and it's a phrase that sums up the new 7 Series to a tee.

Marketing speak aside, the sixth generation of BMW's flagship saloon is a car at the cutting edge.

It's in an executive zone inhabited by the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Audi A8 and the Jaguar XJ - and none of those are duffers.

To make a mark it has to be different and BMW has taken the latest 7 Series to a new level of sophistication for driver and passengers alike.

Up front there are features such as gesture control which operate the likes of the phone system at the move of a hand while in the back business class has been upgraded to first.

There the 7 Series can be fitted with such luxuries as massaging seats and a detachable touchscreen from which ambient light settings can be altered and the cabin fragrance changed.

The car we sampled also had a drinks chiller fitted behind the rear seat armrest - although its installation does have a slight impact on the 515 litres of boot space available in this luxury liner.

From the executive perspective it feels a very special car and with prices running from £64,530 for a diesel powered 730d it is a very competitive proposition for a limousine which can average a claimed 60.1mpg.

We tried out the 730d in long wheelbase form and with M Sport extras which takes the base price up to £71,350.

Factor in an array of options including an enlarged head-up display that is even more user-friendly than before, an array of sophisticated driver systems including a self-steer device which keeps the vehicle within the lanes on motorways and a Bowers & Wilkins premium hi-fi and this particular 7 Series cost a cool £95,615.

That's top dollar for a top rate car and on the road the new 7 surpasses standards set by BMW on previous generation models.

Developing 265bhp - an increase of seven horsepower on the previous iteration - the 3.0-litre six cylinder diesel performs sharply with a 0 to 60 time of 6.2 seconds and the top speed limited at 155mph.

The eight-speed auto box is both smooth and brisk and with a variety of drive modes available it can be made to shift manually via steering wheel paddles or steptronic operation via the gear lever.

It has an edge which is sporty and rewarding, especially for a car of such proportions.

In long wheelbase guise the 7 Series measures almost 17ft 6ins tip to toe and that's almost six inches longer than the standard model.

The added length boosts rear leg space significantly yet despite its size the 730L weighs in at 2.49 tonnes - a smidgen heavier than the all-aluminium long wheelbase diesel Jaguar but lighter than the stretched Audi and Mercedes.

BMW has made use of lightweight materials in the new 7 Series with the doors and boot being aluminium and plenty of carbon fibre reinforced plastics elsewhere in the construction - a feature denoted by a Carbon Core motif on the door pillar.

With added aerodynamics such as an active radiator grille and the M Sport streamlining which includes side skirts and front and rear aprons it makes the 730 diesel the most fuel efficient of the lot.

Officially the 730L is rated at 58.9mpg with emissions of 127g/km and even with some brisk driving we managed to average close on 41 to the gallon - and this is a car which has a real zest for performance.

From the driving seat it is not serenely quiet but comes with an engaging diesel growl while its turn of speed is impressive when required and cruising is effortless.

Self-levelling air suspension, variable dampers and an adaptive drive set up than can predict road conditions via the sat nav make for a ride that is outstanding and the car remains virtually flat when cornering - a sublime experience.

The only excessive feature was a rather aggressive feel from the lane departure system but that is part and parcel of the semi-autonomous steering function and something which you can second guess.

This car was also fitted with BMW's so-called laser light LED headlamps which can scythe through darkness illuminating as much as 600 yards ahead, although one smart feature - active remote control parking where the vehicle can drives itself into a garage or tight roadside space and all controlled from the key fob without anyone inside the car - was missing.

It's a feature that is only just coming on stream on right-hand models but is the icing on the cake when it comes to convenience technology.

And technology is where this Beemer abounds. Interior refinery such as ivory leather upholstery, metal trim inserts and twin sunroofs which themselves have ambient light arrays are embellished with the likes of four-zone air conditioning, onboard Internet connectivity and 12.3-inch display screens in the rear.

This is VIP travel at its finest in a car of the highest order, built - as all 7 Series have been since 1977 - at the Dingolfing factory in Bavaria which is now also home of the aluminium bodies used by Rolls-Royce.

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