Automotive

BMW's 740e iPerformance is a parsimonious high roller

BMW's 740e iPerformance is a p...
The 740e iPerformance is a big hitter with a light thirst
The 740e iPerformance is a big hitter with a light thirst
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The 740e iPerformance is a big hitter with a light thirst
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The 740e iPerformance is a big hitter with a light thirst
You can spec the car in long or regular wheelbase versions
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You can spec the car in long or regular wheelbase versions
From the outside, there's not much to split hybrid and regular 7 Series versions
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From the outside, there's not much to split hybrid and regular 7 Series versions
The 7 Series launched last year, and is loaded to the gills with technology
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The 7 Series launched last year, and is loaded to the gills with technology
The 7 Series iPerformance will hit 100 km/h in just over 5 seconds
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The 7 Series iPerformance will hit 100 km/h in just over 5 seconds
That little "i" stands for hybrid power and performance
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That little "i" stands for hybrid power and performance
The badges are one of the only giveaways to the car's electric power
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The badges are one of the only giveaways to the car's electric power
Le means you've specced the long-wheelbase 7 Series
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Le means you've specced the long-wheelbase 7 Series
The engine is BMW's most powerful four cylinder
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The engine is BMW's most powerful four cylinder
The inside of the iPerformance is just as luxurious as the regular model
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The inside of the iPerformance is just as luxurious as the regular model
Beside some blue touches, there's not much to set the car apart from regular 7 Series'
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Beside some blue touches, there's not much to set the car apart from regular 7 Series'
More blue = more efficient in the BMW world
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More blue = more efficient in the BMW world
BMW says drivers should enjoy their time behind the wheel
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BMW says drivers should enjoy their time behind the wheel
The drive and power modes on the 7 Series
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The drive and power modes on the 7 Series
There's a 9.2-kWh battery hidden in the 7 Series body
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There's a 9.2-kWh battery hidden in the 7 Series body
The 7 Series 740e iPerformance goes head-to-head with the Mercedes S500 Plug In Hybrid
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The 7 Series 740e iPerformance goes head-to-head with the Mercedes S500 Plug In Hybrid
The LWB 7 Series tackles a hill
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The LWB 7 Series tackles a hill
The 740e sips rather than swigs
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The 740e sips rather than swigs
The 740e iPerformance 
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The 740e iPerformance 

The BMW 7 Series has been boosted with V8 and V12 options galore since it launched in 2015, but there's been no hybrid variant to cater for oligarchs with an environmental conscience. That hole in the market has now been plugged with the 740e iPerformance, a limousine with claimed economy figures to rival three-cylinder hatchbacks.

When we say economy to match little hatchbacks, we don't mean an average hatch. In official testing, the 240-kW (326-hp) 740e iPerformance returned between 2.0 and 2.5 L/100km (113 and 141.2 mpg). The discrepancy, for those wondering, is down to whether the car is long or short wheelbase, and if xDrive all-wheel drive is specced.

Of course, whether or not you'll actually achieve these figures is another thing altogether, but managing to make a five-meter long limousine sip like a VW Polo BlueMotion under any conditions is mightily impressive.

From the outside, there's not much to split hybrid and regular 7 Series versions
From the outside, there's not much to split hybrid and regular 7 Series versions

This parsimonious character comes courtesy of the plug-in hybrid system, which is capable of covering up to 48 km (30 mi) with no local emissions. That's 18 km (11 mi) more than you'll manage in this car's closest competitor, the Mercedes S500 Plug-In Hybrid. The BMW also uses between 0.5 and 0.8 L/100 km less than the S-Class, although it's still slightly thirstier than the smaller, lighter 330e.

In electric-only mode, the driver has access to 83 kW (113 hp) of power, and there's 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) of torque on tap from standstill. Depending on which mode you're in, the electric drive system's 9.2-kWh battery is charged with a regenerative braking system, otherwise owners can use the charging cable stored in the boot.

Even when the car isn't locked into Max eDrive mode, the car's onboard computers will default to electric mode at low speed, before bringing the 2.0-liter gasoline engine into play at around 80 km/h (50 mph). The engine will also kick in under heavy throttle, which is something you don't see much of in the stop/start traffic where electric cars excel.

The LWB 7 Series tackles a hill
The LWB 7 Series tackles a hill

Total system output is 240 kW (328 hp) of power and 500 Nm (369 lb.ft) of torque, which is enough for a 100 km/h (62 mph) dash in 5.4 seconds in the sDrive model and 5.3 seconds in the xDrive model. Considering the car's size, it's an impressive time, with the instant torque of BMW's electric motors combining with the 190-kW (258-hp) four-cylinder engine to give the 7 Series a decent shove down the road.

Impressive as these systems are, BMW has done lots of work to make sure they blend into the background. This is a luxury car and there's nothing less luxurious than systems awkwardly cutting in and out, ruining the magic-carpet illusion you get from great limousines.

It's an illusion passed off by the high-luxury interior, which has been hit with a technology barrage. From widescreen iDrive to the touchscreen key, the plug-in hybrid 7 Series is kitted out with enough toys to keep even the most discerning buyers entertained for years, provided they're actually the ones who are driving.

The inside of the iPerformance is just as luxurious as the regular model
The inside of the iPerformance is just as luxurious as the regular model

On the outside, there are no major differences between iPerformance models and the rest of the 7 Series range. Sure, there's a few badges and an extra flap for the charging plug, but you'd have to be a trainspotter to notice them. That's no bad thing, though, because we think the standard car is the best looking of all the German super-saloons doing the rounds at the moment.

Thus far, there's no word on pricing from BMW. Regular and long-wheelbase models will be offered, with xDrive all-wheel drive an option on the LWB variant.

Source: BMW

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