The times are a-changing: Driving the BMW G70 735i

Bold, unconventional and daring, with a distinctive yet controversial design language that deviated from the conservative visual progression of its predecessors and packed with the latest technological features ever to be fitted to an automobile, the fourth generation of the 7-Series (chassis code E65/E66) was one of BMW’s most polarizing cars ever to leave the Dingolfing assembly plant. While some embraced its boldness and technological advancements, others criticized these elements, resulting in divided opinions worldwide. Sound familiar?

BMW’s latest BMW 7 series embodies a captivating visual language that showcases the mastery the Bavarians have acquired from its craftsmanship of Rolls Royce vehicles with imposing, chiselled and stout design with clean, strong Germanic and almost Bauhaus-like lines pushed edge to edge means this new 7 while being only marginally larger than its rival from Stuttgart is the visually more prominent car against the softer lines of the W223 S-Class.

Embracing the car’s generous proportions, BMW has incorporated numerous design details that enhance the exterior’s aesthetic appeal and presence. The stunning Swarovski crystal adorned daytime running lights, Captivating graphical elements for the rear lights and rear passenger windows and a prominently redesigned Hoffmeister kink all accentuated by a series of bold chrome elements that gracefully wrap around its base, to create a striking, powerful and unapologetic exterior.

For discerning potential owners who wish to further push their car’s aesthetic, BMW also offers a duo-tone paintwork for an additional small fee (S$36,000), like on our test car’s beautiful Oxide Grey on Tanzanite Blue shade.

The G70’s connection to the world’s most prominent ultra-luxury manufacturer continues inside, with further design touches and exquisite materials supporting a mesmerizing technological showcase for anyone fortunate enough to ride in one.

Nestled just before the driver, the G70 showcases BMW’s innovative curved display panel that houses a striking combination of a 12.3-inch gauge cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment screen, now showcasing BMW operating system 8.

While it is a significant departure from its predecessor, the E65, which introduced iDrive to the world, the current system still has some room for improvement. Various secondary controls are tucked away in a series of menus, making navigation a bit cumbersome, particularly due to the small buttons and text. It is evident that although the user interface is visually appealing, there is still some work needed to enhance usability and restore BMW’s renowned reputation for seamless ergonomics.

Speaking of visually appealing interior features, there’s also the BMW Interaction Bar that stretches across the entire front of the cockpit. This stunning crystalline multifaceted panel integrates the cabin’s ambient lighting and touch controls for airflow, lights, powered doors, and even the opening of the glovebox.

Passengers in the back are also well accounted for when it comes to tech toys despite not being equipped with the new 7’s 8K theatre screen party piece (coming soon) with 5.5-inch touch-enabled screens to control climate, seat settings, window blinds and the multimedia system.

Of course, we didn’t bring up the E65 for this story solely because it was a provocative car. While there is over 20 years of separation between the E65 and the G70, they do share one more thing in common—their model designation. The numbers 735i last adorned the rear end of a 7-Series with Chris Bangle’s flagship design.

Time has moved on, of course, and while a 735i might have previously denoted a 3.5-liter V8 hiding under the bonnet, two decades’ worth of engineering and technical advancements from Bayerische Motoren Werke now have us peering at a turbocharged 3-liter straight-six coupled with a mild hybrid system. This new setup is not just more efficient but also packs more power (282bhp combined) and considerably more torque (425Nm) than the older V8.

With 100km/h coming up in a respectable 6.7 seconds, it doesn’t take long for this 735i to hunker down and push through traffic when the need arises, aided by its juicy amount of torque down the lower rpm range and surprisingly high amount of body control when navigating rapidly through winding roads.

Realistically speaking, just because it can doesn’t necessarily translate to it being engaging. However, since speed, acceleration figures, handling prowess, and outright performance are not exactly the top requirements one looks for when shopping in this segment, the new 7’s ability to deliver a comfortable and smooth driving experience is, for us at least, the much more important quality.

And on that end, the new 735i’s active air suspension absolutely delivers as it crushes tarmac imperfections into submission. Whether it’s bumps, ruts, or the numerous uneven surfaces that have sprouted out across the island, the G70 easily glides over them as occupants inside the cabin indulge in pure comfort, as the ventilated massage seats work their magic, easing away any worries or tension.

The air suspension system also has a nifty trick, allowing the G70’s ride height to be raised temporarily to clear occasional obstacles or simply to match the height of most SUVs on our roads.

That said, for a vehicle commanding such a premium, wind buffeting is an issue along the A-pillars and remains noticeable even at low triple-digit speeds. Perhaps a redesign is in order for the side mirrors to better manage the airflow, or alternatively, BMW should consider reintroducing double-glazed windows for even better insulation from the outside world.

Of course, if you wish to drown out these minor imperfections, an 18-speaker, 655-watt Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system is at your disposal. While it may not produce as much power as the Diamond setup we recently tested in the i7, there is no denying its exceptional audio quality.

At a rather considerable price point of S$644,888 (as of writing), the latest 7-Series not only represents a leap in design and technology but also requires a significant financial investment to get behind the wheel. However, considering that you get most of the features and the same level of luxury as the even pricier i7 (S$739,888), we believe that this “entry-level” 7 might be the better choice. For those who aren’t too concerned about a less extravagant exterior and fewer features in the cabin, there’s always the all-electric iX (S$508,888), which offers a similarly special interior and a nearly comparable ride experience at a lower price point.

What do we love? The sublime relaxing ride, the tech and the ability to hustle when requirement.

What are we not too sure about? The slight wind buffetting from the A-pillars and side mirrors at speed, could do with even more power.

What can be improved? Soundproofing and certain sections withi iDrive 8’s UI.

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