By Daxim Lucas
One hundred eighty kilometers per hour.
That’s how fast we drove BMW’s new 7 Series sedan on a central European motorway on a long drive from Warsaw to Prague not too long ago before the coronavirus pandemic.
To be completely honest, the speed limit for that particularly long stretch of gently rolling highway was only 140 km/h, but the biggest luxury car of the iconic German motoring brand made it almost easy to forget the speed at which one was driving, especially if one’s eyes were focused on the road (and occasionally admiring the beautiful countryside.
The model we sampled was the 750i which practically wrapped its driver and passengers in a cocoon that made the inside feel quiet — almost still — while the world whooshed by outside. Except for the fast moving external scenery and the faint growl of the engine, its passengers could be forgiven for being fooled to think that the car was moving at barely over 100 km/h.
We didn’t exceed overspeed too many times, except for when we had to pass several cargo trucks who were sticking to the speed limit. But the power of BMW’s top-of-the-line sedan gave me the confidence to overtake several 18-wheelers with one steady push of my foot on the accelerator.
The same could be said of BMW’s X7 sport utility vehicle, which we also got to sample on the first leg of the drive. One driver exclaimed in surprise upon glancing at the dashboard that we were doing 150 km/h when, inside the top end four-by-four, it felt like we were complete law abiding motorists.
The X7 model we were assigned to was a M50d, which was a brute under the hood but, like its sedan counterpart was luxurious and refined on the inside… to the point of having a Swarovski crystal shift knob (we’re not kidding), in the addition to the usual features expected of a high-end vehicle like leather seats and all the fancy tech one needs.
In the Philippines, BMW’s 7 Series comes in two variants, the 730i and 745Le both in “Pure Excellence” trim, which made waves a few months ago when its local distributor, SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp., offered the latter model at below P6 million.
The line-up of turbocharged power units for the new BMW 7 Series was also updated and now includes a new four-cylinder engine and a new six-cylinder in-line unit with a plug-in hybrid system offering extended electric range.
On the outside, one would easily notice the extensive design refresh at the front end, especially new hood with sharper contour lines, a larger BMW logo and — something that’s really hard to miss — the larger “kidney grille”, which, according to the manufacturer is now 40 percent bigger than previous models.
The difference in the new model is also noticeable when viewing the car from the side, and enhanced by 18-inch light alloy wheels for the 730i, and 19-inch “double spoke” style wheels for the 745Le. Both variants feature runflat tires.
Locally, the BMW 7 Series is offered in two engine configurations. The 730i is equipped with a 2.0-liter TwinPower four-cylinder gasoline engine that makes 265 horsepower and 400 Nm of torque. The new 745Le serves as BMW’s first-ever Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle in the Philippines, offering a 3.0-liter TwinPower six-cylinder gasoline paired with an electric motor.
BMW says the 745Le is capable of up to 55 kilometers of electric range in ideal conditions, and offers a combined performance figure of 394 horsepower and 600 Nm of torque.
Like we said earlier, the 730i is priced at P5.99 million while the 745Le goes for P9.59 million.
Meanwhile, the X7 SUV is offered in the Philippines in the xDrive30d variant, which is powered by a 3.0-liter TwinPower turbodiesel engine that generates 265 horsepower, and can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in seven seconds flat.
Apart from the larger kidney grille that the X7 has in common with the 7 Series, it also sports a panoramic glass roof, “Merino” leather upholstery, and BMW’s incredibly intuitive “Live Cockpit Professional” dashboard that provides the driver all the information he needs.
The X7’s price tag is pegged at P9.29 million, which is just a touch lower than the brand’s top tier sedan.
Here’s the thing, though: Based on our time with both luxury vehicles in Central Europe, we think company owners, CEOs and tycoons may find themselves looking forward to their chauffeurs taking days off so they could experience the BMW 7 Series and X7 not just as ultimate riding machines, but also as ultimate driving machines.