The first thing you notice walking up to the 2020 BMW 7 Series is undoubtedly the toothier grille. In these days where every automaker needs to make a visual statement , grilles have gotten chunkier, gargantuan and often, just plain weird (lookin’ at you Lexus). In BMW’s case, the large twin-kidney grille on the 7 Series seems comical in pictures. In person however, it wasn’t nearly as offensive. As a matter of fact, on a sedan this large it looks entirely appropriate. This is the flagship of the line after all and the immense grille certainly gives the big Bimmer a presence that was somewhat missing in the prior generation. For this generation, BMW has done way more than just redesigned the front end.
To keep the pesky cross-town rival Mercedes S Class in check, BMW has gone to great lengths to enhance its flagship. While the 40%-larger grille does make a statement, the slim headlights and front fascia all work well to make the 7 Series its own model, instead of looking like an upsized-5 Series. The long hood, blunt nose, long wheelbase (no more short wheelbase option, sorry) and elegant rear end all impart a stately stance that befit a proper flagship. The headlights incorporate “laser light” technology that, in the daytime can’t be truly appreciated. While the this 740i has presence, it’s on the inside where things really get interesting.
Let’s start with the seats. Buttery black, Nappa leather combined with the heating and ventilation options make the front seats extremely comfortable. Twenty-way adjustability makes finding the right driving position pretty easy and the heated steering wheel falls easily to hand. Ambient lighting bathes cabin in a warm glow of pretty much any color under the spectrum. From the glossy wood to the soft touch materials and controls, everything feels premium well-made. This being the long-wheelbase model, it’s the rear seat passengers that get the most attention. The rear and passenger side windows get powered sunshades, a huge panoramic sunshade and rear seat ventilation courtesy of the Premium and Executive packages. Besides those, it’s just plain roomy in the back.
Sit in the driver’s seat and a reconfigurable 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster stares back at you, projecting a heads-up display in your direct line-of-sight in the windshield. While the gauge cluster doesn’t offer the same level of configurability as Audi’s system, it was plenty useful in displaying pertinent information without being overly distracting. A 10.25-inch touchscreen displays BMW’s latest iteration of iDrive and is now slicker and easier to use. The rotary control now features a touchpad on top to trace letters or numbers when inputing navigational information for example. BMW’s gesture control, which allows you to twirl, point or jab your fingers at an imaginary space in front of the touchscreen to control certain functions is till more gimmicky than useful. Take volume for example. To turn up the volume, use you pointer finger and twirl it clockwise in front of the screen. No thanks, there’s a volume dial under my thumb on the steering wheel.
Now I’m normally the type of guy to go for more power, but I was pleasantly surprised by the ample thrust from this turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight six. Against 4600 lbs, the 335-hp and 330 lb-ft of torque moves the 740i with relative ease. Even though this particular model didn’t have the traction of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, stomp the go pedal and the big Bimmer surges forward to a sub-5 second 0-60 mph time. While the electronic shifter is finnicky to operate, the 8-speed transmission itself is phenomenal. In any of the 740i’s drive modes, the transmission accurately reflects the selected mode. In Sport mode, the air suspension tightens up and the 8-speed shifts assertively and quickly between gears, while in Comfort mode, shifts are barely perceptible. Around town, the 740i was smooth, quiet and confident. Despite being over 207 inches in length, parking was never an issue, aided by an array of cameras. On one particular stretch of road, I was able to hustle the 740i along in Sport mode. There’s good grip and the suspension tightens up enough to somewhat manage the weight. That said, this is no sports sedan and ultimately, the 740i prioritizes comfort over all sport. Besides, if you’ve got this in your garage, you’ve probably also got a sports car to scratch that itch.
At $93,600, this example is on the lighter optioned side. Go crazy with the configurator (start with the V-12 powered M760i for example) and you’re just shy of $180,000. At this price point, it’s hilarious to say that $93k is a lot of money (for us plebians maybe), but in this segment there are more options. That Mercedes S-Class is a veritable tour-de-force of technology that rivals and, in some instances, surpasses the BMW. The Audi A8 is also fresh off its redesign and I’d be remiss if I didn’t place the Genesis G90 into the picture. If you’re not a badge snob, the Genesis is on par with the 740i, offers more power and comes really close in terms of quality for thousands less.
The 2020 BMW 740i is a well engineered flagship for the House of the blue and white Roundel. Even though it places more emphasis on comfort and tech than its predecessor, it now makes a more convincing visual statement. If you can’t afford a Rolls Royce Ghost, the BMW 7 Series does a pretty good impression, right down the massive grille.
Special thanks to Christina for helping to make this review possible! Check out Pilot Training America for all your flight training and aircraft rental needs!