By Patrick James on 2016-05-28 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
BMW 730d xDrive M
Sport Saloon 3.0d
IN the rarefied atmosphere of the luxury car market, the BMW 7 Series has struggled to make the same impact as its hugely successful stablemates
The latest model, the sixth generation, should change all that with its elegant design both inside and out, space age technology and sheer road presence.
The range comes with a new generation of six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines with the firm's xDrive four wheel drive system being offered for the first time.
It is lighter with its ‘Carbon Core' passenger cell helping reduce weight by up to 130kg over its predecessor and features a host of technological innovations.
For such a big car it also has sharp handling characteristics with bags of grip.
There's no mistaking its a BMW with the iconic kidney grille but even this enhances the car with with what the firm calls Active Air Stream to improve dynamics.
Either side of the nose the equally familiar twin circular lights feature now familiar LED daytime running lights.
The car looks sleek and stylish, even more so with M Sport package on the model driven here, Features include front/rear aprons and side skirts, plus elegant alloy wheels in twin-spoke design, illuminated door sill finishers bearing the M logo and accents in either light or dark chrome.
Inside there's a riot of leather, wood and chrome giving the car a truly luxury feel. This together with high quality soft touch finish, ambient lighting and powered, heated seats means it is a luxurious place to be.
New designs also include the chrome buttons on the multifunctional steering wheel and centre console.
Standard features include navigation, four-zone climate control and gesture control, where making specific hand movements in the vicinity of the centre console - where a 3D sensor registers them - commonly used infotainment system functions can be controlled.
Various gestures can adjust the audio volume, control the 3D view display and accept or reject incoming phone calls.
This model was powered by a powerful yet frugal upgraded three litre, 265bhp V6 diesel.
This engine provides excellent economy and low CO2 emissions thanks to BMW's EfficientDynamics fuel saving technology.
That does not mean a compromise in performance, with the big car capable of hitting 60mph from a standing start in just 6.2 seconds with a throaty growl from the V6 a pleasantly powerful intrusion into the cabin.
Claimed economy of aroud 54mpg seemed optimistic, but mid-to late 40s mpg seemed pretty respectable.
It is not just the acceleration, peak torque or pulling power, is now 620Nm, which means it pulls brilliantly at low revs.
That pulling power is particularly evident on motorways where the big car cruises overtakes with ease at high speeds. It is quiet as well with barely a murmur of wind and road noise, just the throaty roar of the V6 under acceleration.
The standard eight-speed steptronic transmission seamlessly slips through the gears whatever drive mode is selected via the centrally situated iDrive operating system, which controls major car functions.
Drivers can select standard, dynamic or eco engine settings and in each case the dash display changes. Blue, to show how energy is being saved, standard view for normal driving and a red display for dynamic mode when a sportier drive is required. This comes into play with the shift paddles on the steering wheel.
The ride is a wonderful experience thanks to self-levelling air suspension and variable dampers.
As usual with these high end cars, expensive options abound including the option of innovative laser headlights which illuminate to a range of 600m. Talk about lighting up the town.
Other options include a self-steer system, Bowers & Wilkins audio system with surround speakers, massaging seats and night vision cameras with pedestrian recognition. The extra list is as long as your bank balance allows.
It is a huge car and accommodates five occupants with ease and in luxury. Boot space is good with 515 litres available.
In keeping with the rest of the high tech goodies, safety equipment is comprehensive with front and side airbags, head/curtain airbags for the front and rear seats, active head restraints, seats, as well as ISOFIX child seat mountings in the rear.
If a collision looks imminent, the standard Dynamic Safety system activates the belt tensioners and, if necessary, closes the side windows and the glass roof. The seat backrests are also brought into an upright position to ensure the restraint systems work to best effect.
It's a brilliant car at an eye-watering price, even more eye watering with some of the option bolted on, but if you can afford it, you can probably afford the extra goodies and is competitive with its main rivals in that sector of the market.
BMW 730d xDrive M Sport Saloon 3.0d
Mechanical: 265bhp, 2,993cc 6cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
Insurance Group: 46
C02 emissions: 137g/km
Bik rating: 27%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
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