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Sensational 7

It was an unexpected call i received earlier in the day, i was driving and the phone rang. In my haste to answer the phone which was stuffed into the depths of my front pocket (Bluetooth car-kit of course), i didn’t get a chance to glance at the caller ID display.

The call came from Performance Motors, and they were wondering if i’d like a drive in the BMW 7 series. Though the 7 has been out for some time, i never ever had the chance to sample a taste behind the wheel. Never really did lust after it either, �old-man’s� car i figured. But the chance to test drive any car from the BMW range is never to be turned down and a few days later, i was in the driver’s seat of �The Ultimate Driver’s Car to be driven in�.

This car is not an uncommon sight on the local roads though, take a look down the financial district and there are plenty pottering around with important people inside doing really important stuff. It might not have the beauty from an Italian penned automobile but what it lacks in appearances, it sure makes up for it with presence. This car is BIG. It has a heavyweight and solid German tightness to the design. It is imposing. It makes you look and feel important as well. It’s big enough to make 19″ rims look tiny.

Previous revisions to the design meant revised front and rear lights, slightly improving on the original’s appearance a bit. The rear light treatment has given the car a much better look from the rump. All other cosmetic changes are probably going to be overlooked and go unnoticed. The 7 isn’t an ugly car, but she’ll never win any beauty contests thats for sure. But then again, the people who buy this car, they probably wouldn’t be too bothered with whats outside, because the real magic happens after you (or someone else) opens the door and lets you slide right in.

The one i’m piloting is a 7 series with a rumbling V8 under the front bonnet. The 740Li. A long-wheelbase limousine with 4-litres of engine pushing out 390Nm of torque at 3500rpm. Sufficient enough to push this behemoth of a car from 0 to 100km/h in a steady and heady 6.9 seconds. Seriously not bad for a car that weighs in at just about 2 tons. Maximum power output? 306Bhp coming in a 6300rpm. Plenty enough to get yourself to that very important meeting i’d reckon.

So what’s really new to the 7 series range? Unfortunately it’s something only the back passengers can really enjoy, with the inclusion of a DVD player and 2 screens for the rear passengers. One screen behind each front seat. Included in the arm rest are the remote controls and wireless headphones for private viewing. Free from the chatter and blabbering from the nosey driver up front. If headphones are not desirable or, if headphones will mess up your hairdo, switching the sound system to AUX mode will enable audio playback through the vehicle’s speakers.

What’s new for those up front to get excited over? How about a video camera located behind the car to view objects in the rear when reverse parking? Hardly something to jump up and down about but when you’re parking a car the size of the titanic, every little bit helps i’m sure. It even makes loud beeping noises.

Viewing the DVDs in the back is a simple process of pushing some buttons on the remote, it takes a short while for the user to get the hang of it, and a slightly longer while for the disc to load. DVD playback is decent enough and with the rear seats in full recline position, it’s Gold Class on the move. (Sort of anyway)

You might think that as a really keen driver, i wouldn’t bother with the immense rear head and legroom with really plush leather and carpet trimmings, coupled with that newly installed DVD system. Well, your wrong. (predictably), i sat myself in the backseat, turned on the monitors and with Casino Royale already slotted in the discs changer, prepared to relive 007s’ adventures from the back seat of my very own 7. With a flick of the switch, all side and rear window visors were raised and i got comfy in my reclined seat.

Then, something went wrong. Everything, and i mean everything went totally totally blank. I couldn’t see a thing in front of me and the sounds from the speakers were getting softer and softer and more and more muffled with each passing second. My vision had already gone by now and i could feel my body start to become at one with the rear seat. In short, i fell asleep. The next thing i knew, the end credits were rolling. So much for 007… One nitpick though, the rear DVD screen enclosure, being local add-ons can do with a bit more quality finishing, the plastics used are harsh against the plastics from the car and the exposed screws beneath the screen are a real eyesore. Both not very difficult fixes in my opinion. Hopefully, such issues will be addressed in the near future.

This car costs almost as much as some small HDB flats, but golly, it sure is a whole lot more comfortable. I was so relaxed in the backseat that i fell asleep and didn’t want to get up. With great sound insulation keeping out most external noises to provide me some much needed peace and quiet. So i guess, that’s a big �Plus� sign for the car’s luxury seats, trimmings and comfort.

Falling asleep in the backseat and signing the car off as a car �to be driven in� does not mean that i won’t drive it. No way, what review would this be without a proper �how does it go?� writeup. It’s not athlete mind you, but the way it pushes itself up to license losing speeds in smooth and quite frankly, really really rapid.

In the same manner as an airplane taking off. You start off slowly, totally aware of the car’s massive exterior dimensions, it’s really quiet now, start to see a nice straight line of road just after beyond the next corner, easy turning at low speeds with the active steering, making low speed turning a real breeze. The car begins to straighten up now just before reaching the end of the corner exit, you see the straight road ahead, mash the throttle into the carpet and the car just takes off. Speed building up really quickly and the car is still very composed, very stable and very refined. You wish to push the car even further but the long straight road starts to meander off, take off aborted then, till another stretch of road looms ahead.

When driving the 7 series, you can always feel the car’s weight. It’s heavy and it shows, down the straights, it’s amazingly graceful and there’s no better way to go fast comfortably. Come some twisty bits though, the 7 starts to swagger thru the turns shifting it’s weight from side to side with each passing curve. Feedback thru the steering is decent and you can feel it thru the wheel when the front end starts to lose the battle against this heavyweight hitter. It’s not a total loss though, for when you step out of the car and look at it’s size, it will strike you at how big it really is. And for the way it hustles through some corners, it’s pretty amazing. It’s not a car that’s always keen to press on though, but if need be, it can do a decent job in the dynamics department when the situation arises. Don’t expect it to behave like a lightweight sports car though, it isn’t and i doubt it was designed to be. Few will ever take this car out for such a purpose though but if you are really keen and really want to try, the740Li puts up a pretty convincing performance.

This car has status, it has presence, it’s for the people who already have most of what life has to offer. (And with a new 7, even more! with the launch of PML’s 7 series owner’s priviledges program) As a driver’s car, not that great to be honest. As a car to be driven in, superb. My personal opinion? I’d much rather be in the back seat.

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